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A romantic evening where every emotion you possess is accelerated beyond it's natural limitations. Shrieking voices that ignite the fire you keep locked away in your soul. An inner beauty that ceases to end and stays with you for the rest of your days. This is a perfect short summary of the album. Funny what words can make you think of.
The Blue is Italian gothic/doom metal band Novembre's last release since 2007, which is a bloody shame, as it's very close to their best (Materia for me) In this release, Novembre will try something that they've never done before, and that's remove majority of the progressive tendencies that they were well known for and are intead vying for a verse/chorus approach. Oddly enough, this doesn't simplify the music at all. I guess it's because there are too many shred solos, acoustic passages, and sweet strings to really look at this album as "basic" or "simple" For the first time since Classica, the death metal esque passages are back and in full force, with Carmelo bringing forth harsh vocals that will practically rip the emotions from out of you, expelling them in a wave of sapphire sensations.
The guitar harmonies throughout the album are rich and full of Italian vibe, something Novembre does alittle too well in every release (The least noticable being Classica in my eyes) The acoustic touches are what really give this album it's "Italiana" essence, particularly in "Triesteitaliana", and "Cobalt of March" Each and every track radiates a completely different feel, while at the same time, having the same flow. There are romantic tracks like "Nascence", depressive tracks like "Cobalt of March", and blissful tracks such as "Argentic" Different themes, but all of them revolve around the same energy, or color, and that is, well... the color "Blue"
Carmelo's cleans have really taken themselves up a notch from their previous material, excluding Materia. I'm glad that Carmelo decided to use his Materia esque cleans, which multiply the "romance" aspect of the album. His harsh vocals are the very definition of "ecstacy" I actually enjoy them more than the cleans, which is something that has literally NEVER happened to me before. They spark an energy inside of you that can hardly be described. I literally get goosebumps everytime I hear certain sections of them, most notably in "Iridescence"
The drumwork by Giuseppe is slightly better than usual, which is a real bitch because he's perfect on every album. He's pretty much the most consistent member in the group, and in this release, he's packing so much energy. Double bass pedals off the ass. (Zenith and Triesteitaliana much?) The best he's ever done, really. Very technical, and fierce.
As I said (typed...) earlier, this album features a good blend of tracks, each with many interesting characteristics that at the same time, manage to stay true to the theme of the album. "Triesteitaliana" features some fast shredding, and acoustic interwoven in a very European way, (I mean that by feel AND by the way the instruments are played) while "Cobalt of March" will depress you into a state of inner hopelessness with the brooding cleans and calm passages. "Nascence" is by far the most romantic track of the bunch, and that mostly has to do with the female guest cleans that give off this perfect synergy with Carmelo's. "Iridescence" is to me, the most emotional track of them all, with a climax that just sends shivers down your spine. The cleans and harsh vocals are intertwined better in this track than in any other.
This album really is to me, the definition of "perfection" A must have for people who enjoy the emotional, melodic side of metal the most. If your aim is to seduce a metalhead woman, then this is your ticket in. Get it. Get it now.
Favorites: Iridescence, Cobalt of March, Triesteitaliana, Nascence, Zenith
I was very surprised when I first heard of another Novembre album coming out. It had been a mere 18 months since the last album, and Novembre usually took on the longer end in between albums (4 years in between the release of Dreams D'Azur and Materia). Being one of my favorite bands of all time, of course I was excited about a new album so suddenly, but I simply didn't have that time to anticipate it like I usually would with any release from my favorite bands. Honestly, I was still digesting the overwhelming "Materia." I'm not saying I would have rather it came out 3 or 4 years later, but I wonder if the suddenness contributes to the slight pitfalls I've noticed below.
I don't know if it's the seemingly premature release of the album or not, but it seems to lack that special spark, that unique kick that most other Novembre albums deliver with some left over. The songs are mostly of good quality, both in production and construction, basically what you can expect from Novembre: winding, melodic, progressive metal monstrosities, wailing clean vocals, powerful death growls, sweet guitar riffs and solos, and a few soft acoustic parts, but individually they don't stick in your mind as much. It is good music when you listen to it, but hard to distinctly remember certain parts and therefore difficult to crave a listen. After I got this album, I listened maybe twice and then whenever I was in the mood for Novembre, I ended up playing Materia because I kept "craving" specific songs that I just HAD to hear.
The song that stood out to me the most on the first listen was "Nascence," utilizing some gorgeous female vocals to provide a wonderful harmonization, for something a bit different. Although the melodies sound great, the song overall seems a bit thrown together and disoriented and doesn't really have a definitive direction and progression to it.
"Zenith" is a monstrous almost-instrumental, (a-la "Valentine") with only about 30 second of vocals in a 7 minute song. Something we don't get from Novembre often. It opens with a peaceful acoustic tune amid some ambient keyboards, gradually releasing the gorgeous metal tunes within. A few minutes in, a fast Comedia-like riff portion emerges, quickly receding into a delightful, lengthy keyboard bit almost sounding like a movie or video game soundtrack. This slowly builds up with more substance, eventually introducing the few vocals. Might sound odd for Novembre, but it works very well; this is definitely one of the album's standouts.
"Triesteitaliana" is another great head-sticker; probably my second favorite song on the album although, again, parts of this song seem a bit jumbled together. The opening gets stuck in my head the most out of any song on this album, and also the soft ballad-style ending will also linger in your brain. The heartfelt, acoustic-driven ending of "Cantus Christi" is another outstanding and memorable moment on this album.
It hurts to criticize my beloved Novembre, but "Cobalt of March" is perhaps one of the most unimpressive of their songs to date, with no punch, no progression, and clean vocals that are actually annoying and repetitive to me.
Other things I have noticed on this album include, unfortunately, a great void of Italian vocals. In fact, there are absolutely none, other than a few mentions of the song title in some songs. I really like when they use Italian lyrics, it adds a certain ethnic identity to the band, so naturally it feels like there's something missing. In fact, there have been at least a few lines of Italian vocals on every album, which is even more disheartening to discover that they have suddenly been abandoned. Also, there are much more death growls than there were on "Materia." It almost seems as though the band is going retro and exploring their youthful sound again, which is cool, just kind of confusing because there's nothing wrong with the direction they were going in.
This album might not have a wholeness to it quite as much as past albums, but maybe I have bashed this album more than it deserved. Honestly the only reason is because Novembre has made so much amazing music over the years, and when there is a very slight disappointment, it is much more noticeable. If you are a longtime fan you'll most likely get what you need out of this album, you may even like it more than "Materia" or whatnot. However, if you are just discovering this great band, I really suggest you start with "Materia" or "Novembrine Waltz" first. Novembre remains one of my very favorite bands and are among today's finest metal musicians.
Oh yeah, this is the album Novembre meant to produce at the turn of the century, son. Always interesting albums with outstanding tracks, but never one full of singles - so commercially appointed that it brings my piss to a boil. But yay I say, because here they kick more ass than whatever God could pull on Mardis Gras against the Sodomites. Materia showed the band hitting rock-bottom in optimism, but the formula was fantastic and the atmosphere / musicianship combo work like a gay charm. Therefore, The Blue is more of a direct follow-up to Novembrine Waltz, except here the group is so unified that they were able to cram Italian culture, beauty, and vigor into constructive, memorable tracks. The melody, the perseverance, the tone, and the simplistic riffs serve well in the quest for a catchy album, and I have no qualms about that.
Go down the list: "Aenemia," "Triesteitaliana," "Cobalt Of March," and all the way down to the last track. Each song I can distinctively hum to; the tunes stick with me because my brain tells me, "These songs are damn good, remember them, fucktard." However, I only trust my brain half the time, since it said the same thing about Underoath back in 2004. What helps them stand out on the bat is the crisp production: majestic solos, soulful vocals, crunchy riffs, thundering bass, and anti-Lars drumming work wonders when production values exceed even the previous album.
What I give big props to are the clean guitar melodies / harmonies / interludes, which really bring out the dream-like nature. They fly about as if traced in air, with the solos dishing out some of the most ostentatious segments I’ve ever heard, such as the bridge of “Architheme” or the intro to “Zenith.” The riffs themselves are mostly simple “duh na-na-na duh na-na-na” type stuff, but here their simplicity is all that’s required when creating a charging rhythm, giving us an album with a perfect mix of soft luxuries and heavy doses.
Acoustics measure low as an ingredient in this recipe, but with Novembre you’d expect it. The aurora-like guitar invitation steals the show like a female vocalist in a doom band. Speaking of such, “Nascence” is a real ball tickler when it comes to proper guest vocals. Now I’m known to despise female vocals as Xerxes despises Spartans, but Novembre found Francesca Lacorossi, one fine piece of ass; not only that, but she perfectly fits the mood of the album and serves like hot cake in a duet with Carmelo. It’s also one of my favorite tracks on the album – eerie, captivating, beautiful, and to top it off… a love song.
But wait, the beast is back! Fuck yeah, and by beast I really mean ferret, because that’s what Carmelo sounds like when he opens his mouth. That’s right, we finally get to hear some harsh vocals quite often this time around. If you didn’t like them before, well, then why are you listening to this band? His performance here is fitting, with the same throaty growls you’d come to expect, with a slight emphasis on throaty. He performs clean vocals at the same rate, as well, and they too have remained unchanged since the Novembrine Waltz days – maybe a bit more mellow and deep, but otherwise the same.
I hate how the bass and drums are mostly tossed aside by bands, and it shows no difference here. Obviously, this is an atmospheric album, and bass can do no more than lend power and fill empty spots in the air. Drumming itself it pretty tight, with a catchy rhythm companionship and a superb combination of double bass / toms – crisp and projected like M&Ms. These four were able to pitch-in every musical ability to create a generally enjoyable experience. To be picky and choose favorite’s, I’d settle with The first two tracks, “Bluecracy,” “Nascence,” and the last three tracks, but don’t let that come between you and the rest of the album. To be true, though, I will admit that the album loses momentum after “Nascence,” but nothing I’d deduct by a lot or go apeshit about, it does pick up again with “Zenith,” and finishes off like PB&J on wheat bread.
Lastly, the tone of this album… the way the tracks flow with fervor, love, and culture… it gives this art more dignity and value that I don’t see in other works too often. It’s a truly romantic gem in a genre that I wouldn’t call passionate myself, yet it’s a special kind of treasure that makes you appreciate being a metalhead and understanding this album was made especially for you…
When a band gets the reputation that its sound resembles the sound of Anathema and Katatonia, I cannot but oblige myself to check them out. So that, I did. When I heard albums like "Classica" and "Novembrine Waltz", I really got the link that had been made with Anathema and Katatonia (and also Opeth, but I'm not that big of a fan of them). Though, the music never got to me as much like for example a "Judgement" or a "Viva Emptiness". I enjoyed it fairly, but nothing more. Then "Materia" was released and my interest in the band just disappeared... Agreed, the clean vocals were almost omnipresent, but for some reason I got the feeling I was listening to too much of a goth influenced prog band, with almost no doom elements in it.
Now, Novembre's new album "The Blue" is already here. Quite fast actually, since "Materia" was only released in April '06. A band can get as much chances as they make cd's, in my opinion. When the possibility came to review this album, I thought it would be a bit of a cheaper way to investigate their latest, so why not?
Anyway, the first thing that really strikes me on this album is not the adding of Giovagnoli's bass guitar, but the use of a lot (and I really mean: a lot) more grunts compared to "Materia". At first I was afraid it would sound too Opeth-like, which wasn't the case -luckily-. It really is a huge improvement to their previous release, but then again is not as (admittedly) fairly brilliant as their albums on Century Media. There still are a bit too much prog and goth influenced songs ("Nascence" for example), which aren't really my cup of tea. They're not bad, but I heard them do better than this. Another thing that I think is improved, are Carmelo's vocals. With the kind of real melancholy I missed on "Materia" and ofcourse his grunts, the band gets indeed a lot closer to what Katatonia sounds like these days - something that really is obvious when you hear a song like "Iridescence".
Maybe it's their contract with Peaceville (which really has / had some incredible bands like Katatonia, Anathema and My Dying Bride) or maybe it's just the kind of sound I like to describe as melancholic, but this album is nothing like I expected it to be. I really would've thought it would explore the limits of the gothic genre with insanely long prog solo's in it, overloads of riffing and exhausting instrumental parts (a bit like the song "Zenith"). Ofcourse, you cannot extract the prog elements out of Novembre, it's something that -after seven albums- should be known to be their way of making music, but now they're abandoning some of their metal roots, just the way Anathema and Katatonia did, and that is -really- beyond anything I could ever expect. I actually hope they will produce more music like this and maybe they will manage to make an album drenched in some of "The Great Cold Distance"'s melancholic sound.
I am (or should I say: was) not the biggest fan of this band but after hearing this album and songs like "Cantus Christi", "Bluecracy", "Sound Odyssey" and the magnificent "Iridescence", my interest in this band is back. This surely is an album that'll undergo a lot more listening-sessions, 'cause it is one of those that needs to grow on you. A gem of beauty, indeed.
I will start this review saying that when you really love an album or it’s one of your favourites you give it 90-100%. It is logical then, that when an album is flat and you don’t like so much you don’t give it such a high average, instead something like 60%. For me the first of the cases is represented by Novembrine Waltz (a piece of art). The second is the album which is the topic of this review – The Blue.
And what are the reasons I have to say this? Why does The Blue deserve no more than 60% in my opinion?
First, the album sounds over elaborate and artificial. It seems like the guys are trying too hard to sound like their previous albums and the result is unnatural. They don’t have the Waltz or Classica sound anymore because they were 6 and 8 years ago now respectively. Examples of this: Carmelo’s clean voice sounds too forced and is not capable to give the touch of melancholy that these parts need. Giuseppe (a drum god in my opinion) nowadays looses himself in unnecessary rhythms that don’t benefit the songs. But the most important without doubt is that the songs of the album lack a logical structure and at worst don’t have feeling at all. All elements of the group sound at the same time and you can’t distinguish the riffs and melodies. I would go so far as to say they are even difficult to listen to.
Materia is for sure a much better album than The Blue. Even without being one of my favourites of the group it has some memorable songs like Aquamarine, Geppetto, or Nothijngrad. In The Blue the balance is so poor. Redeeming features are Zenith (almost an instrumental), and Cantus Christi the unique song that shows how good Novembre can be as a group. Another good moment is the final melody of Triesteitaliana.
However, after all this I would like to be optimist. We have to applaud this band because they are evolving so much and I want to think that they will give us happiness in the future. They are not a lost cause or anything like that!
In conclusion I would say that Novembre will never release another Classica or Novembrine Waltz. Not because they are not capable of composing great songs but because they now create different music. Probably good music.
Only time will tell us………..
Italian death/doomers Novembre return only a year and a half after their last album to bring us The Blue. 2006's Materia was a great accomplishment for the band, gaining the band a realm of new fans across the globe and scoring mountains of press and acclaim. Of course, there were fans that were upset by the turn the band were taking - but you can't please everybody. Really though, you've got to wonder why a band would be so eager to head back into the studio and release another album when they've barely supported their last release.
Simply put, I believe Novembre went back into the studio to record the album they were meant to write. They had this album in them all along and consciously waited until they got Materia out of their system before allowing the world to experience The Blue. Materia is an absolutely fantastic album, but it lacks a consistent feeling through out the album. It's got catchy/poppy songs, its got depressing songs, it's got quiet songs - its general feeling is very indifferent. The Blue has a feeling to it that can only be described as the color the album is titled after; a beautiful and moving journey through it’s different shades. Depressing and cold blues (Cobalt of March, Sound Odyssey, Nascence) perfectly contrast uplifting and mesmerizing blues (Bluecracy, Anaemia, Zenith) with blues of romance and passion (Triesteitaliana, Argentic) - the warm consistency takes hold of your soul and encompasses your mind and body with the sound and feel of The Blue.
I'd rather not spoil such an album for anyone by going through the track list and providing you with fancy word play describing every song. Rather, I'll tell you that this is an album worthy of your time and money (if you decide to buy it). The album truly is a journey that will take hold of you and keep you transfixed until the very end with every listen. Songs like Triesteitaliana will take you on roller coaster of soaring highs and devastating lows, complimented with a blistering guitar solo that comes out of left field and smacks you across the face before you even realize what happened.
The only things stopping me from giving this record a full score of 100% is the opening to "Cantus Christi" and the irritating final second of "Iridescence" that ends the fading song with the needle scratch of a record player. Otherwise, the album (in my opinion) is perfect. It couldn't have come at a better time either; I highly recommend this album for cold winter nights and lonelier times during the holiday season.
First things first: this is my first review ever, so if there are inconsistencies, please let me be excused. Now...
When Novembre released their 5th album, Materia, in 2006, a fair number of people were more than a little bit disappointed with the turn that the band seemed to be taking. They argued that Novembre’s music had become too mellow, and that they should have stuck with the sound developed in 2001’s Waltz, and so on. As such, The Blue, scheduled for release later this year, is not expected with much optimistic light. Well guess what? The Blue proves that the Novembre of those good old days are (or seem to be) back! Right from when the first notes of the first song strike, you know this album is going to have you exclaim “Ooh, Classica!” In fact, people who’ve tried the promo is already hailing it as a huge improvement from Materia.
Well, not quite. In truth, there is a problem with this album. A big one at that, but I’ll mention it later. Complements come first.
The album kicks off with Anaemia; a heavy number, with death vocals and mellow, clean ones alternating in a nice, tasteful but quite predictable manner. The solo in the last section, however, can be described as nothing short of hypnotic, with its abrupt ending strongly reminding me of how The Beatles’ I Want You concludes – "suddenly, arbitrarily cut off, jolting us into embarrassed awareness that we've let a mere recording carry us away", as David Gates used to put it (a sucky comparison, I know, but I can’t find anything else equivalent). Triesteitaliania follows, and while not so strong as Anaemia, it is still very much recommendable due to its well-executed grooves. A better start cannot be asked for.
Now to the criticisms: after this the songs (specifically, tracks 3 - 9) really go down the hill in terms of both quality and memorability. It is as if midway through the recording process the band suddenly lost all their energy and consistency, and had to quickly shove in all their incomplete ideas to pad out this vast hole. Frankly I cannot review these songs track by track, because the whole mass is just like a tangled skein, only managing to invoke the vague thought, “That’s Classica fused with Materia; erm… yeah.”
Another complaint stems from the vocals, especially on the song Cantus Christi. They sound really tired, rugged and ultimately uninspired. Other tracks show glimpses of such performance too, albeit not as apparently, or significantly. I know not why it is so, but that’s that. Regarding the reasons for such miserable vocal lines - perhaps age is not showing much mercy to Camerlo. With all seriousness, every time I listen to Cantus I picture the man with a bristling, graying short beard and a hollow, haggard stare. It’s that sad.
Fortunately, after the dismal affair of Cantus Christi one is brought again to highest hopes, with the incredible (quasi-)instrumental Zenith. Yes it really is the zenith of this album, or even of Novembre’s magnificent career, in my humble opinion. Such is the quality of this track that it almost wipes clean all the disappointment/bitter taste that the tracks 3 - 9 have managed to accumulate in my mouth. In fact, the guitar work and general atmosphere of Zenith can only be matched by Foto Blu Infinito, another instrumental from Classica. Because of this track alone, I give The Blue an extra 10 points - it would’ve scored 67% without the track.
The last 2 tracks conclude the album well enough. Deorbit is not that memorable, but at least it can’t leave the listener disappointed. Argentic, on the other hand, is worth of notice because it sounds like something the band had rejected when they were recording their last release, and then decided to improve upon (and improve really much at that) and feature on this one. So yes, this is a very good example of a “basinal” album.
In conclusion, I’d like to convey this message to Novembre, if, per chance, they are reading this review of mine: you guys, please go back to your Materia sound. I think the Classica/Materia fusion (tracks 3 - 9) is really really not a good idea.
Highlights: Anaemia, Triesteitaliania, Zenith, Argentic.
[Edited for a stupid reason: mistaking track 11 with track 6]