WOW – and then I leaned back! What an opener. The beginning riffs of Terra Damnata (SOM – Underground Activist) are quite unexpected. It’s loud and bombastic. Nightbringer meant to get on the front foot with their fifth offering, and I dare say they did. Everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at my head for ‘As Wolves Amongst Ruins’. It’s bombastic. It’s loud. It’s evil. It’s discordant. It’s scary. Keep in mind, this is the first song. There can be no mistaking that this is indeed a heavy Black Metal album. Continue reading
In the world of contemporary prog, very few bands take it to such artsy and fascinating landscapes as Norwegian’s Gazpacho, whether it’s in their musicality, their craftsmanship or their narrative. Hitting a career high last year with their brave and majestic Demon (Kscope) saw them perfectly meld a haunting, classical style with a continuous and suitably dark tale of a Demon. Over a year later and the follow up album sees them not sitting on their laurels, with further stylistic changes and an equally unconventional concept.
Molok (Kscope) takes the brain stalling idea of a man who decides, in the 1920s, that all worship of any God has become the worship of stone as God has retreated to such objects. Coupled with this head scratching idea is the fact that a frequency at the album’s close could spell the end of the world.
Rather than just simply coming up with a weird and wonderful story alone, Gazpacho compliment and match it with vibrant and extremely well executed atmospheres and sounds that once again fully breathe it to life. At times there is a much greater focus on a more tribal and dissident sound such as on ‘Algorithm’ which emphasizes large, traditional percussion throughout, whilst the likes of ‘ABC’ prove almost contrasting with a more soothing and dreamlike air. The title track even includes like-to-like recreations of Stone Age instruments, contributed by music archaeologist Gjermund Kolltveit.
As such, this may borderline on becoming pretentious and even elitist, but Gazpacho manage to encapsulate all this in a way that is still warming and welcoming. Those unfamiliar with art rock and prog could find it daunting, but otherwise this is very melodic and has plenty to latch on to whilst all the while proving dynamic and imaginative. Meant to be enjoyed as a whole rather than broken up, each new listen reveals further nuances and details. Jan Henrik Ohme’s voice also proves as hypnotic as ever, conveying melancholy, serenity and menace with aplomb, and the accompanying female vocals add an extra, welcome dimension.
As ever, a new Gazpacho album will reveal further secrets with each additional listen and thus trying to articulate it entirely is futile, but what is clear is that Molok is a rich and heavily detailed and thought out work which will prove more and more rewarding with time. Where Demon was the band’s benchmark, Molok has very easily matched it at the very least. This could well be the band’s greatest opus to date.
Norweigian proggers Gazpacho have for a long time now been one of our world’s most consistently intriguing and underrated gems, fusing the minimalist near somber tones of Radiohead with subtle electronics and folk like instrumentation. They also have a penchant for macabre tales about the paranormal and the mystic, so the true story of a book found in a Prague apartment in which the author tells of his search for The Demon (Kscope) is tailor made Gazpacho fodder. Which is where their latest opus, Demon, comes in.
Lyrically, Demon is a piece which both takes in the point of view of the book’s author and that of an outsider reflecting on the protagonist’s mental conditioning. Despite the understandably morose lyrical subject matter, musically Demon shows a warmth and safety in some of its more delicate parts. Throughout the albums four pieces however it shifts from such through to almost Black Sabbath levels of heavy, accompanied by excerpts of vintage film reminiscent music and crackled vocal passages the likes of which you’d picture emitting from a classic pre-Second World War wireless radio. Each song in turn continuously swerves in its dynamic; only the shorter track ‘The Wizard Of Altai Mountain’ maintaining its consistent, folk driven pattern.
Those already familiar with this remarkable of bands already know the beauty and serenity that Gazpacho are capable of in their music and the diversity at their hand, but Demon shows an even darker and more powerful side than before and is possible their most sinister of works yet still encapsulates that feel of splendour that they are renowned for. Demon is a modern masterpiece which should find its way in to the collection of anyone who has an affinity with progressive music.