Finally – a band we can rely to crack out dark metal.
Not dark rock, not dark synth pop, dark metal, written as though ‘Draconian Times’ was the World and the Law.
Dark metal written with just enough of that hint of real Goth to be cold and sensual at the same time.
Novembre of course have been doing this, phenomenally, for basically all of their career, underappreciated by all but a small and devoted fanbase.
It’s no surprise then that this new album sees them once again crafting a rake of songs that are sullen, melancholy, but tremendously powerful metal killers written in the anthemic style.
My only issue with the band at this point is that their material is by now getting quite samey: but is that really a problem when you’re talking about same levels of greatness?
You can hear the steely strains of Katatonia’s ‘Brave Murder Day’ in opener ‘Australis’. When that powerful rhythm guitar comes in, you know you’re in the hands of experts here. It’s at the mid point though you really feel like you’re carrying straight on from Blakkheim and Akerfelt’s finest hour.
Carmello’s by now familiar multi-layered harmonies are all there in that wonderfully unresolved palette of notes – never quite conclusive, but bathing the listener in a wash of triste melody.
I’m reminded of Alcest alot through this release, as well as more vintage sounds. ‘The Rose’ harks back to Novembre’s best work, with the strains of ‘Come Pierrot’ bleeding into it; that slight whimsy that leads to a cascading guitar riff.
Their always obvious affection for darkened 80s pop is apparent in ‘Umana’ which has the lingering vibe of Mister Mister and Don Henley, albeit in the medium of pewter grey metal. There’s a classic bit of Goth in here as well, with sweeping keyboards and some lovely use of samples.
It can get frustrating at times how Carmello still sings the clean passages as if though his nose. There’s very little definition in the lyrics at all, which can get a bit annoying, until you just accept that the whole vocal style is layered and impressionistic – so if you can put up with Cocteau Twins, which as a Novembre fan no doubt you can, you wont have any problems here.
‘Easter’ is a straight ‘Draconian Times’ nod, and fantastic for it. Yet one of the more surprising and engaging is ‘Agathae’ which gets seriously evil – binning the melancholy whimsy for a gnashing and discordant blastbeat reminiscent of their ‘Classica’-era.
Where did this come from? And why didnt they roll it out early in the album? It’s punishing, and thrusts Novembre into a much more powerful new space. Not least with a dazzling solo, again a bit of a first.
This band are rarely going to let you down. Give or take, almost every album they’ve done is in its own way special, and this is no different.
As a long time aficionado I’m hearing little different from prior albums, but tracks like ‘Agathae’ really do mix things up – and the rest are comforting for their brilliant familiarity. The opening four or five are total class, while admittedly it gets a little flabbier in the middle.
This however is still critcism relative to Novembre’s own extremely high standard. Every track has merit, and indeed more than merit.
So check it out, particularly if Alcest caught your attention in recent years and you’re looking for more of the same, but better.
Novembre probably remain doomed to be underappreciated and criminally underrated. If you hanker for the glory days of ‘Morningrise’, ‘Brave Murder Day’, ‘Draconian Times’, ‘Irreligious’ and the like, you’ll be absolutely sated with this.
Speaking of Moonspell, it’s a fantastic companion to their latest album – so sit back and enjoy its woozy Victoriana soundscape, preferably with an Absinthe to hand.
The only reason it isn’t getting higher marks is because of ‘Classica’ and ‘Novembrine Waltz’ before it.
3.8 / 5 – Earl grey ::: 25/03/16