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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.