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Of course it’s not because a band is called Novembers Doom it has to necessarily play doom metal, after all it’s indeed a band called Metallica which once released the most perfect antithesis to metal ever, but that’s not the point. The point isn’t either this Novella Reservoir album is mediocre: there’s no doubt it is, but there’s also no doubt there’s far more offensive music to be found around. The point is it makes the reviewer look very, very old ; the little stuff sounds annoyingly MODERN, and adding this to a variety of ominous signs ranking from Pete Steele passing away to My Dying Bride becoming more and more a shadow of its former self one can only worry about the future of “dark” metal (in the most liberal sense) if said future has to only consist in Novembers Doom and its numerous siblings.
Granted, the shit is overall heavy... Y’know, Slipknot is heavy as well, it’s even heavier than this and it still doesn’t make it in any way good. In short, all I can hear here is some very average melodeath, I mean of the kind dangerously leaning towards the dreaded –core side, complete with the mandatory clean-chanted bridge, the mandatory acoustic break and the mandatory occasional touch of keyboards. Death/doom metal? Doom metal is a riff-based genre. Death metal is a riff-based genre. Melodeath IS a riff-based genre (Dark Tranquillity, regardless of what you may think of them, has riffs). On the other hand what this album has to offer is only a mere ersatz of riffs, most of time summing up to some anonymous down-tuned guitar endlessly pounding in the background – while the usual brain-dead closet hardcore dancer barks on the foreground. Exaggeration? Perhaps. Still what can’t be denied is the obvious vulgarity of the vocals, and I’m not talking about some hypothetic curse words (which are surprisingly missing, given they would have perfectly fitted with the rest) but about the tone itself. Take this opener, Rain, for instance ; it doesn’t begin that bad, the rhythm guitar seems to make a little extra effort to offer the semblance of a riff, when suddenly the vocals fall upon you with the subtlety of an untrained dog afraid you, the unsuspecting passer-by, would steal its beloved marrowbone. But perhaps it’s simply because I hate dogs, who knows (any Caninus fan here? this album might be for you).
Then you’ve got the ballads. Considering what I suspect to be the targeted audience, you HAD to get ballads, TWO ballads on a total of eight songs, incidentally the two longest (!) songs. I’ve nothing against a good ballad, this meaning amongst others NOT the long worn-out acoustic-trickling-with-the-whiny-guy Twilight Innocence consists in (notice the title alone implied it would suck) ; at least try to add some drums, though I highly doubt it would make it better considering its sister-song, Leaving This (now the title is much more fitting), features some and may even be worse with all its ill-placed pomp and grandiloquence – this chorus, c’mon. Again, those insipid ballads still aren’t the worst I’ve heard (Tobias Sammet’s are MUCH worse), it’s just they’re far too predictable to raise the level of an equally insipid album.
Alright, trapped between the melocore junk and the translucent ballads some doom moments may still be heard – in They Were Left to Die for instance, though the fact this track is rather slow doesn’t imply it’s plain doom either, but first the vocals are still as annoying as anywhere else here, then the song seems to never really evolve, forever staying at ground level together with the eternal down-tuned accompaniment. The title track is more interesting, some kind of melodic modern doom if you want, not without similarities with let’s say Swallow the Sun (a band vocalist Paul Kuhr has done backing vocals for, but just a coincidence), in no way a masterpiece but still a breath of fresh air amongst a pretty indigestible work. Oh, and did I mention there were some agreeable solos to be found here and there? It’s a pity you’ve got to dig into all the disposable rest for those few scattered seconds of, well, genuine metal.
I could also have said the lyrics all showed suspect Christian undertones, but we’ve come to a point this detail becomes totally insignificant. Yes, there’s far worse music around. Who cares. Stupid modernist mess.
Highlights: The Novella Reservoir
Novembers Doom started life way back in 1989 as a doom death metal band that was heavily influenced by My Dying Bride and their ilk. While the band has been raising its profile in the subsequent years and progressing beyond their early influences, it was 2005's highly acclaimed The Pale Haunt Departure that pushed the band to a new level. The band had moved on from the doom death of old to become a very dynamic melodic extreme metal band. While the atmosphere that the songs conjured were doomy, the band incorporated a whole bunch of different styles to make that album quite special.
Early this year the band released their sixth album The Novella Reservoir and the band has done a great job in following up TPHD with another album of high quality metal.
The album starts with terrific Rain. The song starts with some chugging riffs and vocalist Paul Kuhr sounds terrific doing his death growls. The song moves onto an acoustic interlude but comes back to a very groovy riff that interchanges with some Opeth inspired melodies. The band sounds a bit different here though. While the last album was some pummeling doom/ death metal this one sees the band experiment with more melody and some rocking modern thrash riffs. Title song, The Novella Reservoir is a highlight of the album with its Opeth like use of dynamics and another stunning performance from the vocalist. While I prefer his growls and screeches to his clean vocals, Paul Kuhr is way above competent with his singing and the song ends with a very tasteful lead guitar part.
The very next song Drown The Inland Mere is the real surprise. Starting off with some energetic Nevermore like riffing, the song blasts out of the speakers before dropping the tempo and going off into some atmospheric clean vocals that are in the Goth doom territory. Twilight Innocence is the obligatory ballad on the album and comes across like something from Anathema’s Judgment. While not as good and with some incredibly cheesy romantic lyrics the song works with its subtle melodies. They Were Left To Die is another crushing doom/death song. The album ends with the melancholic brilliance of Leaving This which comes across a bit like My Dying Bride at the start before progressing into melodic doom metal and is the perfect ending to an album that is almost perfect.
While the band seem influenced by a bunch of bands ranging from Opeth to Nevermore and some classic doom bands, there isn’t any one band that they sound like. The Novella Reservoir is the sound of a band that has, over the course of three albums carved a unique path for themselves.
The band is in top form and the guitarists fucking destroy with their combination of death metal ferocity and the slowed down melancholic feel that’s prevalent throughout the album. The vocals of Paul Kuhr is one of the highlights of the album and his part growling part screeching part clean singling style works perfectly. The guitarists play some terrific melodic leads right through the album and the songs sound fresh and powerful.
It was going to be difficult to top The Pale Haunt Departure and while it’s still too early to say if this album is better, it’s pretty fair to say that The Novella Reservoir is just as good. This album is going to end up in more than a few year end lists and is absolutely essential for fans of melodic extreme metal.
The mantra most would associate with seminal Chicago doomsters Novembers Doom is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", but the band's sixth full-length, the curiously titled The Novella Reservoir, finds them breaking and fixing several elements of their sound. Granted, the tried-and-true "melodic death/doom" sound they've honed over the years is still omnipresent, complete with shifts from crushing minor chords and intelligible growling to minstrelsy acoustics and deep crooning. But the band are expanding in each direction, testing the limits of their heaviness and their mellowness. Uncharacteristically brief opener "Rain" is a full-on lesson in old-school American death metal, and haunting ballad "Twilight Innocence" doesn't even bother to break out the electrics throughout its nearly six-minute length.
Of course, there are also songs that seamlessly blend the two styles in the way that the band has been doing for years, and these tend to be the most satisfying songs. "Drown the Inland Mere" and "The Voice of Failure" provide plenty of Opethian time changes and headbang/headnod tradeoffs. The album never seems to meander or become overlong, except for the final three minutes of album closer "Leaving This", which are nothing more than quasi-choral refrains and a simple chord progression.
This album both puts to rest and reaffirms the aforementioned mantra that the band have become associated with. You're going to get melodic death-doom when you buy this, but you're also going to get a few other things.
The Novella Reservoir is the latest release from Chicago giants Novembers Doom and unlike their prior release, this album has a purpose.
In ‘The Novella Reservoir’ we see a much more focused effort than we did with ‘The Pale Haunt Departure’. This album is extremely aggressive and fluid and once again, the production is top notch.
The guitars are monstrous, heavy and brutal, with the bass following what they do for most of the album. The drums are good, but not as creative as in their past releases. The vocals are (as always) outstanding. There are some mellower parts of course, but over all this is one heavy beast!
Some of the drawbacks are (once again) the lack of Doom. Another would be more simplistic song structures (I.E. verse, chorus, verse, etc…their earlier work was more or less long poems that sometimes interjected bridges and/or chorus).
This album has a more Goth/Death feel too it than their last and overall is much more cohesive than its predecessor. It would have been a more logical choice in place of ‘The Pale Haunt Departure’ as the bands “departure” from Doomdeath Metal.
The latest offering from Novembers Doom, “The Novella Reservoir,” is the perfect continuation from the path of destruction laid from 2005’s “The Pale Haunt Departure.” Once again, the band takes a heavier and more direct approach to their own brand of death / doom metal that is often easily misclassified by listeners.
The disc starts off with the powerful “Rain” whose opening lyric of, “Becoming one with madness, a chaos to embrace” remains one of my favorite lines of the album. This track is a memorable heavy-hitting opening track, such as was the title track to 2005’s TPHD.
Next up is the title track to “The Novella Reservoir.” This track opens with more of a subtle guitar riff that lets you know you are in for. Tempo-wise, this track reminds me of “Swallowed By The Moon.” The highlight of this track would be the dual-vocal delivery of the chorus, which will stick in your head for weeks.
In true Novembers Doom fashion, the more subdued title track is followed by the heavy and pulverizing “Drown the Inland Mere.” This track perfectly showcases vocalist Paul Kuhr’s amazing abilities to switch between clean vocals and growls.
The fourth track is a 100% ballad written about Paul Kuhr’s daughter entitled “Twilight Innocence.” This is the track that some will get and others won’t. Fans of Novembers Doom are more than aware of how personal the lyrics can get. This is the riskiest and most daring track on the record, especially for this band. Vocally, Kuhr uses his deeper tones in an almost David Gilmore-like style to deliver the goods. This song is sung over a guitar line that is both haunting and beautiful at the same time. This track is the perfect example of what makes Novembers Doom and each new release so special. They never are afraid to take a risk or try something new without straying too far from their base formula.
Fans of 80’s thrash will love the next track entitled “The Voice of Failure.” The track begins with some nice guitar feedback reminiscent of Metallica’s “Blackened.” This goes into a pummeling thrash intro not previously heard on a Novembers Doom record. Drummer Joe Nunez effectively uses double peddling to lead the assault! This track also boasts perfect dual-vocal harmonies in the chorus, which makes for an easy listen.
Another two heavy tracks follow in “They Were Left to Die” and “Dominate the Human Strain”
The album concludes with an outro song entitled “Leaving This,” which is a powerful mid-tempo track about departure. The lyrics ask the listener to “Mourn not the loss, but the memory.” This is yet another in the long line of Kuhr’s lyrics which can be interpreted in various ways.
In summary, “The Novella Reservoir” continues to further challenge previous perceptions of Novembers Doom. With each release, new approaches are explored while maintaining the core sound and style of their brand of death / doom. Pre-Orders of this disc came with Paul Kuhr’s book “The Wayfaring Chronicles” which detail the meaning behind the lyrics of each song from each Novembers Doom full-length. I strongly recommend this book to any fan. Novembers Doom have previously never made the same album twice, and I am thankful for that.