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This group of musicians has almost always been compared (to their detriment, I believe) to the British triumvirate of doom metal bands: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Anathema; and when so many people in so many different locals, situations, and scenarios latch on to a catch-phrase like this, it tends to become overwhelming - or something that's increasingly difficult to escape. While I know that this band probably does admire the work of those artists from across the Ocean, I am also fairly sure that they would rather just be known for their own abilities and for having their own sound. Who wouldn't want this? In all fairness, I don't see why this album shouldn't achieve that reputation for them, as it is a quantum leap forward in terms of their songwriting and lyrical ability, technical skill, and the effortless establishment of a viable/original musical identity. To tell you the truth, I have never heard much of the British Three in this band - maybe a little My Dying Bride at times, but that's it. What started all of this? Perhaps it was the advertising that their old label Martyr used that quoted Andy from the aforementioned band praising them... I don't know. I don't think it matters.
And so while they are still trapped underneath this stigma (the promo envelope features a quote from a Metal Maniacs review of their material which starts with an admirable example of doublespeak: 'There are many bands similar to Novembers Doom, yet there is no band quite like Chicago natives.' (what?) and which references once again the tired cliche, I am convinced with this monumental (63 minutes long) release that this uniquely talented assemblage of scene stalwarts will move far beyond such stale reminders and asides and build a new category for themselves in the minds of those who give notices of such things. If not, it is the fault of the 'critics', not of the band.
Novembers Doom have expanded their range tremendously with this new music, as if they took a long hard look at their style/sound and all of its idiosyncratic elements and decided to build upon each reserve of originality they possessed. For one thing, their sound has opened up very wide here - no longer, I believe, can they be pigeon-holed into one scene's 'aesthetics' or style, and they draw from a large sampling of influences and/or sources of inspiration to forge a palette that is almost never colored with repetition, from the darker/heavier doom sounds of songs such as 'Shadows of Light' or the crawling 'Last God' (my second favorite song on this album, next to the achingly beautiful 'Aura Blue') to the atonal/minor chord slashing and chaotic instrumentation of 'Harmony Divine', from the classic metal grooves or Sabbathisms of 'In Memories Past', to the piano and clean guitars of 'Silent Tomorrow' and its cousin remix at the close of this disc. For the most part, this is a wide-open, lilting, mourning series of musical passages that flows together in a protracted listening without any real interruptions. In fact I believe this is probably the best way to listen to this album: straight through, from beginning to end, with little in the way of distractions if you can avoid it. After a few such sessions it will become very clear to you just how much of their own passion and personalities this band has put into this album, and its sheer weight of conviction should persuade you of the seriousness of their art.
One of the most remarkable things about these songs is their easy, slow-breathing, relaxed sense of pace and the mastery with which they are built, time and time again, from the ground up: each song, for the most part, starts slowly and then knits itself wearily together, seemingly drawing musical elements out of the air to form the flesh of a moving, living sound organism. The band displays a new confidence of melodicism here, opting for clean guitars and an 'open' acoustic sound when they can use it to add depth, space, and emotion to the proceedings. All of these songs, also, run through a variety of feelings and atmospheres: they seem to ebb and recede, to fold and unfold new vistas to explore, like the movement of waves over a constantly-changing sea surface. It is the 'ease' of this process that convinces me, more than anything else, of the immense amount of work that must have gone into the composition of this material.
So, to sum up, I feel I have to congratulate this band based simply on the courage and creativity they show here...but added to that is my sincere admiration for their talent and their eloquent songwriting ability. If you are in any way a fan of the doom metal genre or an enthusiastic supporter of the more progressive elements of the dark music scene, then you must at least listen to this... you will be impressed.
Masterpiece. It’s a word that is highly debated in all circles of all things in life. What makes one? How is it judged? What happens afterwards…
The masterpiece in question is Novembers Dooms’ ‘The Knowing’, which is a must for any Doomdeath/Doom Metal fan. From start to finish it is brimming with emotion and drenched with feeling.
In short, this is a concept album about a man who one day awakens to realize he knows everything. The cure for aids, how to solve world hunger, when the world will end, etc… The record is about his struggle to cope with the images presented within. He also learns that his wife and best friend is not faithful.
Musically this is one of the most original pieces of music ever made (this band has a knack for doing that). The guitars are heavy, yet subtly melodic, continually teasing the listener with feelings of hope and joy before thrusting them back into a swirling torrent abysmal sorrow.
The bass is masterfully understated while always in sync with the drums which are always creative and inspiring while never tedious. The vocalist (one of the most over looked in Metal) does his most astounding performance of growls, spoken word and clean singing vocals. They add clean female vocals as well on a song or two.
The lyrics, aside from the story are thought provoking, and beautifully crafted. They don’t lack the duality of basic song structure (the real meaning and the meaning you get out of it). The symbiosis of awe-inspiring melodies coupled with the haunting moods equate for one soul purging experience.
One thing you can’t accuse this band of is slacking.
As with all albums, there are positives and negatives to this album. November's Doom has sucessfully avoided the typical Candlemass and Black Sabbath style of doom metal. Yet, they also do not linger toward the more "black metalish" doom either. They manage to keep a happy median between traditional doom and funeral/black doom.
November's Doom makes the musical feeling a depressine one. You can feel the sorrow and fading light in the shape of the music. Although many bands try to achieve that feel, you rarely sense it as great as this one. There is a few songs which sound almost like Opeth, but the tempo changes and half-time feels make everything vary. The songs make you feel as if you've had your heartbroken a thousand times. If you're looking for something to depress the fuck out of you, then you will find it in this album.
The vocals are an obvious rip-off of Opeth and other death metal bands. On occasion, the vocals will change and they will be clean, spoken vocals. The clean vocals add more feeling to the music, as opposed to the typical growling, screaming, choking vocals we see in various forms of metal. Some songs, like "Silent Tomorrow", start out small and with a strumming guitar and a bass filling in the gaps. Then, the song builds up into a more atmospheric chorus. This progression is something rarely seen in metal.
The guitar players have one thing that not many players have, talent. These guys have played their instruments for more than a year, as the music indicates. You have some acoustic parts, which add more of a melancholic feeling. At the beginning of some songs, you will have one guitarist playing a dark chord, and the other guitarist playing a lead guitar riff. The basslines fill in the gaps of the acoustic parts very well. Drums are the usual slow, but heavy, taps on the drum. You can tell the drummer isn't having much fun playing this style of music.
The female vocals on "Searching the Betrayal" and "The Last God", allow for a more melancholic and depressing feeling. If you're already depressed, don't listen to these songs. These songs will depress you furthur. The female vocals mostly follow the lead guitar chords, which change often. The woman singing has a fairly beautiful voice. Normally, I do not like females in metal, but November's Doom makes them fit well into the music. It is a nice change, as opposed to hearing the same person's voice over and over again.
Overall, this is one of my favorite albums. If you're the kind of person to get sad and depressed easily, then I do not advise this album. However, if you're the type of person to search for the most depressing music, then you will not be disappointed by November's Doom.