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Its about time! Novembre are back with their third effort, ‘Classica’ and this time, they have FINALLY managed to sort out the production trials and tribulations that we saw on the first two efforts. As I’ve stated in previous reviews, Novembre had troubles with obtaining the right production. The sound didn’t have a good balance. The bass suffered as a result, as did the light-hearted percussion which couldn’t dramatise the emotive nature of Novembre’s sound and, the biggest fault of all, who even knew keyboards existed on the first few efforts?! The production truly drowned out elements of the instrumentation like some cruel hearted bitch drowning numerous unwanted and unloved cats in bags at the bottom of the river. To the bottom they sank and with the end they met. The production was a sadist, it liked to torment the listener and the band by posing several different, but still as irksome troubles. The genre tag also makes no sense to me. I feel that there is next to no death metal elements on the latter records and what little that might be on the earlier one’s is limited and isn’t important regardless.
The production killed any attempts at forging some sort of imperative mood, or texture that was both delightful to hear, structurally sound and that would have produced a positive vibe from a reviewing and listening perspective. This coming from a man who listens to poorly produced black metal records and calls them classics. I can tolerate poor production, especially when its done in an attempt to generate atmosphere, but Novembre obviously weren’t making that their own intention on either of the two previous recordings. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Novembre have dealt with the severity that was the production, here’s the irony and the pun all in one go: this record is no classic. However, it is more productive in every sense than the first too, but still flirts with mediocrity all too much for my liking. The band have suffered from regular problems with the production, and on top of that, the line-up has consistently changed. Even on this record. Its hard to distinguish which of the two guitarists is the lead, but I imagine one of the new recruits, who didn’t last long, leads the line with his improved musicianship and increased creative juices. His performance doesn’t carry Novembre, by any means, and nor does Carmelo’s, which it might have done in the past.
We’re no longer introduced to the nothingness that is the keyboards. The little impact they had on the soundscapes of old was unreal. You wouldn’t believe it until you heard it for yourself. However, I suppose in the long run, the loss of a keyboardist is a positive, right? Its difficult to understand where Novembre have gone wrong continually in the past. The debut interfered with and destroyed any inclusion the bass might have had, as well as deeming the deconstructed percussion sections as null and void since they impacted as little as possible with a rather muted sound. The band whimpered across the finish line as ‘Wish I Could Dream It Again…’ stumbled over itself. Next up, ‘Arte Novecento’ posed exactly the opposite problems in terms of the lacklustre production values. The bass was audible and even eligible, as were the percussion passages, but the guitars were caused havoc with as the production began to, once again, stamp its awful authority over the soundscapes like some power hungry tyrant from the 20th century. Let us not be too harsh. There are positives to take from this listening experience, though its just far too dull to last long in the memory, even after repeated listens. Creatively, Novembre should sound like some sort of avant-gardé act, but they don’t.
The gothic influences are overpowered by the supposed doom elements that consist on this record. First of all, Carmelo’s vocals are fine when they’re simply clean. They produce a nice melody, if not a little uninspiring and contain emotive connotations, as well as imagery in his sometimes harmonic voice, but those screams are muted in the ears of all listeners as he fails to deliver the same amount of emotion and passion as his clean vocals. The harsh vocals are suitably positioned next to the more dynamic sections (faster percussion - double bass and regular use of the hi-hat), but its in these precise moments that Novembre live up to the all-to-negative expectations that have been forced upon us by the first two records. Carmelo would be best suited to dropping this style, which he does more so on future records. Songs like ‘L'epoque Noire (March the 7th 12973 A.D.)’ truly do expose him for being a poor harsh vocalist. His screams (or are they meant to be doom growls?) are ineffectual. Carmelo and Massimiliano work fine together when it comes to lead and following guitarists. They intertwine with some joy, but as I said, much of this record is largely forgettable. I struggle to remember a decent riff, or bass lead that really caught me off guard. There in lies the problem - they’re forgettable, even when the production has been sorted out. Bass is audible, but not emotive enough. Vocals are either too nasal, or too annoying (though they can present some nice melodies) and the percussion/guitars are in no position to fuse everything together. From one problem to another.