"GAZPACHO was formed in 1996 by Jon-Arne Vilbo and Thomas Andersen and Jan-Henrik Ohme, later completed by the three others. They released six studio albums, which were well received. The Norwegian band is bringing out their seventh album, ‘March Of Ghosts’ which Vilbo describes as “a collection of short stories. The idea behind the album was to have the lead character spend a night where all these ghosts (dead and alive) would march past him to tell their stories. Characters include Haitian war criminals, the crew of the Marie Celeste, a returning American WWI soldier who finds himself in 2012 and the ghost of an English comedy writer who was wrongly accused of treason.”
You might then expect quite a dramatic concept album with a lot of turbulent and heavy soundscapes or with the ghostliness some eerie and ethereal, thickly layered atmospheric songs, but with the mixture of ambient and folk elements into their post-art rock sound the music is more on the relaxing side. Though the layers and atmosphere are there, it’s rather straightforward and unpretentious and accessible. Many of the songs are dreamy, mostly evoked by Ohme’s vocal, take the first part of the ‘Hell Freezes Over’ songs, of which the second part, following the first, ups on the intensity, but it’s still pretty low key affair, reminiscent of MUSE. Added interest to this song comes with some bagpipe-y, Celtic sounds towards the end raising the oomph as it fades.
‘Black Lily’ is enhanced by some unimposing and non-bombastic orchestra parts. Some compare GAZPACHO to ANATHEMA, PORCUPINE TREE and MARILLION, yet the sound so many times reminds me of the band I’ve previously mentioned – MUSE, this track in some ways is the most representative of it - with the vocals and the way the melody sways, lets go and intensifies with that nearly MUSE-like music diction. Guitar details and folk-ish elements in the ‘Gold Star’ change this tack somewhat and earn rather the comparison with MARILLION. The violin and dreaminess in the third part of ‘Hell Freezes Over’ and its melancholy create the best moment of the album together with ‘Mary Celeste’ which has this precarious steering towards heavier sound with some wonderful detailing going on with piano, and darker, moodier strings. The lyrical narrative stands out more here too.
‘Golem’ has a most pronounced sense of experimentation woven together in an appealing way. Lyrically I especially enjoy how they’ve worked the legend of Golem into an interesting metaphor. The last part of ‘Hell Freezes Over’ is the hardest here, yet atmospheric and quite beautiful and the reference to ANATHEMA comes justified here. In fact within the last few sentences I have also written some of the adjectives that fit this album overall quite well - appealing, (very) interesting, beautiful, and also a multi-faceted and richly rewarding listen. " - Reflections In Darkness