When you think of Norway, chances are that the metal bands that come to mind are on the extreme side of the spectrum. Certainly much of the metal from that country over the past two decades has skewed towards black metal and similar styles, but there are some talented acts that channel melodic heavy metal if you dig a bit deeper. One of these is Ghost Avenue, formerly known as Ghost. Formed in 2002, the group has been offering their own take on melodic heavy metal and hard rock across two full length albums, and now they’re ready to release album number three via Pitch Black Records. Titled ‘Impact’, this is a sci-fi concept album that features powerful, soaring vocal lines courtesy of singer Kim Sandvik and catchy guitar leads. With the album set to come out this Friday, February 3rd, we’re excited to offer you an exclusive first listen of the entire release alongside an interview with the band.
Spread across ten songs, Ghost Avenue comes out of the gate with mid-tempo riffs that have a considerable amount of power and weight to them. There’s no doubt that these guys haven’t forgotten the “heavy” part of heavy metal, as they often let the bottom end of the sound drive things forward and layer melodic hooks over top of them. ‘Impact’ does a fantastic job of balancing the lumbering and mellow elements, and while the tempos do stay on the slower side for the majority of the album there’s plenty of variation to the songwriting to hold your attention. That’s part of what I really like about this band, as they’re interested in delivering hard rocking songs and slower ballads rather than going for the super-fast, high flying types of riffs that just about every other band in the genre seems overly focused on these days. Lead singer Kim Sandvik is another aspect of Ghost Avenue’s music that grabbed me early on, as his voice commands your attention with its power and then heads into soaring higher ranges.
There’s a lot to like about what Ghost Avenue has put together with ‘Impact’, and their balance of crunchier, heavy instrumentation and catchy melodic leads make a strong impression. Plus when you wrap it all in a sci-fi concept sung by an attention grabbing vocalist, what’s not to like? ‘Impact’ is out February 3rd on Pitch Black Records, and you can check out an interview with the band below to learn more about its creation.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. It has been a few years since your self-titled came out in 2013. When did writing for ‘Impact’ begin and did you approach the writing process differently compared to your previous releases?
Ghost Avenue: Hi, and thanks for having us! We started working on the new album as soon as the previous one was released. The writing process was kind of similar to what we have done before, but the fact that it turned into concept album was the biggest change from previous albums as it made us think more about the album as a whole and not just the individual songs.
TO: ‘Impact’ is a concept album about an alien invasion Earth and the battle against them. Were there any particular films or novels you took influence from when coming up with your storyline, and what made you decide to do a concept album?
Ghost Avenue: Not really any particular films or novels, more the genre as a whole. Our vocalist Kim is a huge sci-fi fan, so he came up with the concept story based on his influences. He had some really creative moments where the words just kept on coming and we had lyrics for 5-6 songs in no time, so that kickstarted the concept.
TO: What studio did you record in this time around, and can you tell us more about how the recording went and what new experiences it brought?
Ghost Avenue: We changed studio this time compared to the previous albums and recorded everything at Lionheart Studios (Oslo, Norway) with Øyvind Voldmo Larsen (known from the Norwegian prog metal band Withem) doing the engineering and mixing parts. We also did the tracking of guitars, bass and vocals ourselves and we had access to the studio to do so over a couple of months. We felt we could take our time to really make it as good as possible. We had every song recorded from our own preproduction demos, so it was more about getting the right things done in the studio. Also Øyvind was just awesome to work with, both due to his knowledge and his positive and down to earth attitude. His input during this process was also helpful and lifted the quality of the album, so a big thanks to him!
TO: The cover art for ‘Impact’ ties in perfectly to the overall concept, and reminds me quite a bit of the poster for Independence Day. Who created it and how does it fit with the vision you had for the artwork?
Ghost Avenue: The cover art was created by Jobert Mello at Sledgehammer Graphix (http://www.sledgehammergraphix.com/) and he was given the complete lyrics and concept along with instructions to work freely around it. And yes, we can’t disagree to the fact that the main cover has some similarities to Independence day, but we still think it’s some freaking awesome artwork!
TO: I could see the album story lending itself well to some music videos. Do you have any plans for this?
Ghost Avenue: Yes, we have definitely had that in mind and we will release a music video from the concept, but the details are still to be worked out. We have never released a proper music video before, just lyric videos, so that’s something we’d really like to get done.
TO: When it comes to heavy metal and AOR/classic rock, Sweden tends to overshadow Norway a bit. What are your thoughts on the Norwegian heavy metal scene and how it has changed in the close to fifteen years you have been a band?
Ghost Avenue: It’s true that the Swedish metal scene dominates the Norwegian in the heavy metal and AOR/classic rock genre. We see that both in the amount of bands, but also when it comes to gigs and festivals for “our” kind of music, so that makes Sweden a quite interesting marked for us. Not sure if that has changed much in the last 15 years and can’t say we’re part of a bigger movement trying to change that. Norway is still mostly known for our black metal scene and we still have a broader scene in the more extreme metal genres. But that doesn’t stop us, and we’ve gotten used to “being alone” in our home country.
TO: Pitch Black Records has been a supporter since your self-titled. How did you connect up with the label and what made them the right fit for Ghost Avenue?
Ghost Avenue: We sent our first album ‘The Engraving’ to Pitch Black Records after we had already released it ourselves. They thought it was great, but since it was already available they wanted to wait for our next album (the self-titled one) which we had already started writing. In general we chose to work with Pitch Black Records as they were truly positive, but still down to earth. We didn’t regret that and it became natural to continue with them for the release of ‘Impact’.
TO: You have three gigs in Norway and one in Sweden lined up for 2017 so far. Are there plans to do a larger tour after the release of the album sometime this year?
Ghost Avenue: We plan on playing live as much as possible in 2017 and the shows planned so far are just a start. We have a bunch of other interesting gigs in the pipeline as well. As for a tour we hope to get to do that as well, but nothing decided or planned there yet.
TO: You’ve played quite a few shows over the years. What are some of your most memorable moments from the stage?
Ghost Avenue: Yeah, we played quite a few shows over the years and if we are to choose one it has to be the support gig we did for Anvil a few years ago. It was really cool to both meet and share the stage with those old rockers! 🙂
TO: I have to ask about that promotional shot that came with the album. Kim is wearing quite the flashy outfit and you’ve got the sci-fi backdrop behind the band.
Ghost Avenue: Haha, it’s quite funny story behind that flashy “Hawaiian” outfit. Kim went to a store to get some new stuff to wear for the photoshoot and was charmed by this 20-something year old girl telling him he would look great in that shirt. And god dammit, he did! 😀
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Impact’ or Ghost Avenue?
Ghost Avenue: We’re stoked that the album will finally be released and it has given us a new drive in our effort to take the band to the next levels. So we definitely believe that you’ll hear more from us! Rock on!