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There's been talk for some time now about Novembers Doom releasing a DVD for the fans, and finally they've graced us with their first home video release, "The Novella Vosselaar-Live In Belgium". Being a fairly long-time listener of this act, I made sure to pick it up straight away. Upon reading the first review posted here on this site for the DVD, I felt compelled to offer a somewhat different perspective on the disc, as I feel overall that this is a very solid product especially for an underground band's first DVD.
The DVD contains a full length concert, with 13 songs clocking in at about 80 minutes total. The concert portion starts out strong with a cheering crowd and the band's creepy intro leading directly into the one-two punch of "Rain" and "Novella Reservoir", both taken from the cd of the same name as the latter. Right off the bat, the quality of the audio is superb, offering a clear yet thick sound that allows all of the instruments to ring through clearly without losing the big "live" sound you expect from a concert recording. While the setlist does lean heavily towards their two most recent cds ("The Pale Haunt Departure" and "The Novella Reservoir", respectively), there is in fact a good mix of their older material as well. Two songs from each of their previous albums (excluding their debut cd, "Amid Its Hallowed Mirth") are performed here, with notable inclusions such as the fan favorite "Silent Tomorrow", and the rarely played "For Every Leaf That Falls". Novembers Doom have not, to my knowledge, performed any songs from their 1st cd in many years now, so frankly I wasn't too surprised that none of that material was performed here. Their renditions of the older material are noteworthy in that they have a bit of an edgier feel to them than their studio renditions, while still retaining the overall feel and vibe of the originals. Considering that the current lineup features members (besides vocalist Paul Kuhr) who didn't even perform on some of these original tracks, I think they pull them off quite nicely with conviction and respect for the originals.
The video quality is quite good, though a bit dark at times. You can tell that the production budget wasn't of the same magnitude as, say, an Opeth or Dimmu Borgir DVD. But the overall quality of it is quite good for an underground band's video. The editing is well done, and some occasional quick cuts but not to the degree of some recent DVDs where the camera doesn't focus on any one thing for more than a second or two. The pacing of the editing style seems well-matched for each song, notably on songs like "Within My Flesh" and "For Every Leaf That Falls", where the editing style and stage lighting combine to augment the dreary, dark sound of said songs. It should also be noted that, while there are occasional times where the audio doesn't completely synch up with the camera shot you're seeing, this is not uncommon as many times on live concert videos you'll notice unusual edits, most often because certain songs were performed twice in order to get different camera angles and what have you. There were a few times I noticed things like this on the DVD but honestly, it wasn't very much and didn't take away from the viewing experience.
Performance-wise, the band puts in a very solid effort. Paul's vocals are particularly heavy and forceful, and the guitars are a perfect balance of razor sharp aggression on the heavier parts, and soulful melancholy during the doomy slower and clean sections. The bass is solid, and the drums are steady and impacting. The aforementioned "other review" states that the drums are badly done, which I do not agree with. There are times where certain parts feel considerably more loose or disjointed than they appeared on the studio cds....but then again, this is LIVE. And on that note, it's something that I additionally find enjoyable about this video, the fact that it definitely feels live and has that "like you were there" feel to it. Many official live cds and DVDs have been greatly (or completely) redone and re-recorded in a recording studio, and perhaps that is what people have become accustomed to. If any touch-ups were done to this recording, I cannot noticeably tell, as the performance overall comes off tight, but still with that looseness that you can expect in a live setting. Too many times I've seen a band's live DVD, only to be disappointed when I finally saw them live in person and realised that they weren't playing nearly as tight as they did on the video. With "The Novella Vosselaar", you definitely get the true "live" experience, without it being a sloppy mess either.
In addition to the live show, the band also included their three "music videos" for "Rain", "Autumn Reflection", and "The Pale Haunt Departure". All three videos are well done, with the "Autumn Reflection" clip being the most professional and "big budget" looking of the three. The other two videos are enjoyable, and while not on the same production level as "...Reflection", are at least as good as much of the music videos I see being played these days on shows like Headbanger's Ball. In fact, I would say these clips are probably some of the best I've seen from an underground doom/death metal band lately, excepting the more well established acts like My Dying Bride and Opeth, who more than likely have a larger video budget to work with!
Again in contrast to the other review I'd read, I think the fan made video clips are quite intriguing and interesting to look at. While the clip for "Twilight Innocence" is basically a slide-show of still images, it's intriguing to watch as most of the shots are previously unseen candid photos of the band backstage, doing soundcheck, and so forth. With a lack of actual backstage documentary type "behind the scenes" footage on this disc (perhaps the only real letdown about this DVD), this slideshow video offers a nice insight into the offstage world of Novembers Doom, set to a very good song. The "Dark World Burden" clip is a pretty straightfoward affair, with older live footage cut to the studio track, and the "Broken" and "Lifeless Silhouette" clips mostly use still images with occasional live video, that I feel works to great effect, and shows an interesting viewpoint of the songs' interpretation by a fan.
Overall, I'd rate the quality of this DVD as being very good, with extra points given considering this is their first shot at a DVD and the ability to create a nice sounding and looking package with the lack of major label-type backing. It would've been nicer had there been additional backstage footage or band documentary bits included, but that being said, I felt that I got my money's worth with this release, especially considering the relatively low price I paid for this brand new!
Definitely recommended for Novembers Doom fans, and certainly not a disappointing purchase for curious new fans either.
Fans of Chicagos Novembers Doom have been waiting ages for them to release a DVD and they finally did. Usually when a band like ND releases a DVD its expected to have all of the following: Live footage, promo videos and back stage/behind the scenes material. This DVD lacks the last and probably most crucial of the three, the unseen antics.
This is a pretty straight forward DVD. The production is good enough and the music is strong. The band has apparently decided to shun their American fans in favor of their European fans. For starters, the guitars are tight and heavy. They are practically flawless, if there are any complaints with them its that they are buried by the bass in a few places and that the lead on 'Silent Tomorrow' isn't played during the distorted chorus. Also when they play the faster more Death Metal oriented material they get a little sloppy, but this could easily be contributed to the very sub-par drumming.
The bass is pretty good with the only real complaint being that it is mixed louder in a few places. The drums are horrific and show that Joe is more of a studio drummer. His blasts are off time, sloppy and muddied. His hand work is alright but he doesn't play any of the faster material how it was played on the CD's. He throws the band out of time more than once but luckly they are able to compensate.
Pauls vocals are surprisingly brutal on this recording. His lows and mids are very threatening and much better than the two live bonus tracks on the re-release of 'To Welcome the Fade'.
The songs that the band played are mostly new tracks from their last two CD's. They really could have put more songs on here from older releases, specifically albums two and three. There is nothing from their first album on here either. The band do play the older songs with a surprising amount of conviction and possibly slower than the original versions. This is not true for all of them however. The newer songs (from 'To Welcome the Fade' for example) are played a little faster.
The bad aspects of this would be the vocals appear to be overdubed, or at least from the bass player. Paul did all the vocals on on their last two albums, yet when Chris sings back up on "Autum Reflection" he sounds exactly like Paul. His facial expressions indicate that his voice would come out strained and breathless yet his voice is clear and always on key with Pauls. Also, Chris's voice continues for a second or two even after he's pulled away from the mic and stopped moving his lips.
The biggest let down of all is the lack of older material. The second would be the over dubs but another would be the "fan made videos" that are in two words: COMPLETE SHIT! All of these were apparently done by people with little to no knowledge of video/editing equipment as they are all just still pictures of the band flashing from one to the next over the music. The one exception to this is "Dark World Burden" which features clips of the band (with former bass player Brian Whitehead) live. Two of these other videos are apparently from the same fan and are just pathethic.
The promo videos are things you've either seen or have yet to see. Two songs from the 'PHD' and one from the new album. All but "Autumn Reflection" are very low budget and weak, not that much better than the fan films.
This is a good DVD over all as the band is pretty good live. Its interesting to watch the guitarists play the songs from a technical standpoint at least as they use some really weird chords. Former guitarist and song writing genius Eric Burnley, really had a knack for writing unique music. Thankfully they play his songs faithfully. This is recommended for fans only.