Novembers Doom - The Novella Reservoir
|The Chicago-based band Novembers Doom knows no musical boundaries. Mark my words. After signing one of 2005's best releases with "The Pale Haunt Departure" - acclaimed by the international press and more important by their fans - the Doom/Death combo comes back for one more with "The Novella Reservoir".
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|Novembers Doom released its landmark The Pale Haunt Departure in 2005, embracing a heavier, more aggressive sound that had been hinted at on previous discs. In doing so, the band raised the quality standard for Doom/Death metal. Everything came together on that disc - songwriting, arrangements, musicianship, and production were all benchmark quality, and the album received almost universal acclaim.
Meeting expectations after such a release is always difficult. The band's 2007 offering, The Novella Reservoir, does not surpass the quality of its predecessor, but neither does it disappoint.
Like The Pale Haunt Departure, this is a very heavy album, providing an angry, mid-tempo Progressive Death sound. The riffs are crunchy, the distortion is fat, and the tuning is low, even by metal standards. (A quick sample of guitar tabs on the Internet showed all tracks tuned down to Bb.) The vocals are emotive in the fullest sense of the word, with an interplay between clean and Death vox that expresses anger, despair, melancholy, and even a touch of hope, all with equal effectiveness.
Lyrically this album is superior to much of what has come out of the genre in recent years. This disc is very personal, and vocalist/lyricist Paul Kuhr demonstrates a greater willingness than his peers to lay himself bare in his writing. Listening to this release is like reading Kuhr's diary. He writes with a maturity that is only derived from deep personal experience - the personal shame of having let down someone he loves, the anxiety associated with becoming a parent, the despair that accompanies crippling depression. Remarkably, Kuhr is able to tackle all of these topics without degenerating into maudlin.
But the impact of this release is not solely a product of the lyrics. All of the musicians deserve credit here for creating a musicality that enhances the impact of the words. Indeed, while the lyrics are strong and can stand on their own merit, when combined with the instrumentation they achieve an impact that would be impossible if divorced from the music. Combined with the superior production quality (courtesy of Dan Swano and James Murphy), all of the elements combined make The Novella Reservoir an engrossing listening experience.
Stylistically, Novembers Doom does not deviate here much from the path that they laid down with The Pale Haunt Departure, but that's OK. The band has on consecutive discs demonstrated a professional approach to songwriting that pays attention to all of the details. These details, when taken together, produce some fantastic metal.
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