Novembre's evolution from aspirant oddballs to something genuinely startling comes as no surprise? a feast of new material confirms that great things should be expected from their forthcoming new album. Potential fulfilled... more » with style.' Kerrang!« less
Novembre's evolution from aspirant oddballs to something genuinely startling comes as no surprise? a feast of new material confirms that great things should be expected from their forthcoming new album. Potential fulfilled with style.' Kerrang!
"For reasons I cannot fully understand, Novembre has always been compared to Opeth and it's been said that they were heavily influenced by them. While it is a given that there are certain similarities between the two bands, as both both acts recorded their debut in 1994 in Dan Swano's Unisound Studio and both liked the idea of alternating between heavy, extreme sounds to slower, clean moments, Novembre's new album Materia should settle any argument that they have always been a unique band in their own right and they have established themselves as a distinct group.
Materia is in many ways the most realized Novembre work. Although it isn't as heavy as, say, Classica; or as complex as Novembrine Waltz, it is excellently composed in the way that the tracks are constructed where every part of the song comes together and plays off each other. There are many contrasting elements in their songs that interact with each other in ways Opeth have never done before. Harmonically, this is one of the most intricate Novembre albums ever, combining their penchant for trance-inducing melancholia and progressive songwriting. Though this one is considerably less heavy than their previous releases, it still transpires a lot atmosphere as it carries a dense and relentlessly dark allure that evokes feelings similar to Katatonia's The Great Cold Distance. Actually, I firmly believe that Materia and The Great Cold Distance are two of the best releases of the year so far and, in ways I fail to describe, complement each other beautifully. Maybe it's the production, the introspective lyrical themes, the somewhat prevalant Tool references (mostly in the vocal department), or simply the fact that both bands have surprised their fans greatly exceeding their expectations.
On Materia, the mellow moments clearly outnumber the heavy ones, as Carmelo Orlando makes less use of his distinctive growls and black-ish screams. The music presents a more acoustic-driven approach with heavier guitar riffs contrasting them, and Carmelo emphasizes his diverse vocal skills, which sometimes evoke Tool due to the heavily processed vocal overdubs. Vocal-wise, this could be his most diverse work to date. He goes from melancholic low registers on "Verne", featuring wonderful acoustic guitars, searing electric leads, and thick drum fills; to downright melodious singing on "Aquamarine" which he finishes with snarly, vicious screams backed by killer harmonies. A similar approach is executed on "Jules", beginning with incessant kick drums and electronia-tinged atmospherics, as Italian lyrics with gripping vocal harmonies are delivered. The second half of the piece is capped by intricate transitions and melodic guitar passages. The two songs that highlight Carmelo's vocal skills best are "Geppeto", whose Garden Wall circa Path of Dreams-like classical intro is simply breathtaking. The bass playing on this song, while subtle, is marked by some of the most atypical chord progressions you'll hear, underlying Carmelo's best vocal melody to date before he opts for spoken vocals, whispers, and humming. The part where he sings, "Quel giorno il mare era un quadro di colori scuri, disse 'Guarda un po chi c'è! Mi sei mancato compare!'" (which would translate like: "That day the sea was a picture of dark colours, he said 'just look at that! I missed you friend!'") is quite possibly his most emotive vocal melody in his career. This swiftly segues into a fantastic guitar solo that climaxes with cascading riffs sending shivers down the spine. Without doubt, this is one of the best Novembre songs ever. The other one, "Croma", also puts the band's "Italian-style" songwriting on display, except that this one is blessed with a lot more shifts and transitions. Carmelo's vocals are utterly moving, especially when he sings the chorus that goes, "I just wanna be someone that makes you believe you are not breaking away."
The merciless start of "Comedia" is also the heaviest moment on the album, introducing death metal-like blastbeats before they combine melodic facade with instrumental precision, shifting in subtle movements of tones that include a Floydian guitar run and groovy drumming. Actually the drum and bass battery on "Memoria Stoica/ Vetro" ("Stoic Memory Glass") is among the most powerful rhythm parts on the album, as they seem to work perfectly in the constantly-changing soundscape. It's a song with piano, acoustic guitars, heavy drum and bass rhythms, and tranquil passages with Italian lyrics. I'm also reminded of several bands, much as I was with the Katatonia similarity, but these are moreso thoughts that pop in my head rather than direct musical references. For example, in terms of its structuring, "Reason" recalls maudlin of the Well's complex, layered songs, and the fretless bass sounds killer too; while the last song "Nothijngrad", featuring Carmelo's emphasized Italian accented deep growls, brings to mind Orphan Land's Mabool. Again, the ending of this track is masterful, with the following repeated lines: "Pride and might, we believe in Nothijngrad" - actually before the band decided to name their new disc Materia, they wanted to go with Nothijngrad Post, but changed their minds later. I'm glad they did, as Materia sounds like a more powerful word and is easier to remember.
One last mention goes to "The Promise", Novembre's perfect cover of Duran Duran. The most electronic piece, it begins with a knife-like lead riff that sounds awesome, and picks up some slightly blues-ridden guitar notes and an infectious main melody. The percussion and backing harmonies are among the best on the album, and what's better is that the piece fits the flow of Materia perfectly as well.
Travis Smith's artwork is first class and it sort of reminds me of a hybrid of his work on Devin Townsend's Terria and Radiohead's OK Computer. Also of note is that the boy on the cover is actually the brother of the girl on Katatonia's Viva Emptiness, also done by Travis Smith."
IcemanJ's pick of 2006.
IcemanJ | Ohio, USA | 12/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my favorite album of 2006. I like it Better than this year's Agalloch, Isis, Tool, Katatonia, Summoning, Green Carnation, etc. But even while it beats out all those, I still don't think it surpasses my longtime favorite from Novembre themselves, "Novembrine Waltz."
But enough playing favorites, time to explain the music. There was no doubt in my mind that Novembre would create another stunning masterpiece, adding to the previous three, even while being fairly different from their previous releases.
The most distinct change is perhaps there are very little growling vocals here. I have always liked Carmello Orlando's growling vocals, but Novembre has always seemed like a band that would eventually stray away from that. Maybe they will return a little more with the next album, I don't know. But I do know that even though the growling vocals were good, I can always go listen to the old albums. His clean vocals are so good that they really need to be used more, and they can be very diverse in themselves. There are many self-harmonizations with overdub, and everything from soft, heartfelt lulling, like in the middle portion of "Memoria Stoica" and in "Geppetto," to incredibly powerful, emotional singing, such as the chorus in "Comedia," the beginning of "Aquamarine," and in "The Promise." Also, there are many more lyrics in Italian than ever before. I really love when the lyrics are in Italian, bands should sing in their native tongue more often, it seems more authentic.
Not only have growling vocals somewhat vanished, but the album as a whole isn't quite as heavy as previous releases. There are many acoustic-driven parts, especially many intros to songs such as "Reason," "Jules," "Geppetto," and many melodies reminiscent of vast Italian countrysides.
The amazing melodies of the band still live on, of course, like the mini-solo in "Aquamarine," the sudden, intimidating riff in "Geppetto," the melodic, unforgettable solo in "Comedia" and also the heart-pounding intro to it, the acoustic-atop-electric Melodies in "Reason," among countless others.
The album's cover song is "The Promise," originally by Duran Duran. Unfortunately I have never heard the original. All I know is, unlike Novembrine Waltz's cover song "Cloudbusting," which many people couldn't stand, this song fits perfectly with the flow of the rest of the album, despite having an electronic-like melody hidden in the background. Most likely, if you didn't know the original song like me, you would have never guessed it's a cover song. This may even be my favorite song on the album, of course, I say that about almost every song here when it's playing.
The songwriting might not be quite as "Progressive" as say Novembrine Waltz, the songs don't quite explore a thousand different ideas. I'm not quite sure if that's why I still like NW better. Maybe they've improved their songwriting so it's not so all-over-the-place, but, I never really thought NW was like that. The songs still go from heavy to soft parts sometimes very suddenly, but they seem to flow much better and keep the same overall theme more often.
Again, Novembre has impressed me more than I would have ever thought, and this album has spawned several more countless classics for the band. They're making quite a name for themselves as some of today's finest musicians."
Fantastic album from a severely underrated band
Mellow Kirby | Netherlands | 06/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Novembre is not really a band that strikes many as familiar. On the contrary, even among a lot of the more in-depth listeners to progressive metal Novembre means no more then the 11th month of the year. All this while they have already published a number of 5 previous albums over a span of more then 10 years.
Is this because their music plain-out sucks? God no. In their last few albums they have brought forth different music sounds, which they blended together more then successfully to create their own style. It's hard to describe them, but Novembre can probably be best compared to Opeth. They too use death growls and heavy passages in their songs, which at times can provide quite the rough experience. At the same time, Novembre merges this with a lot of soft (acoustic) parts in their music. Combined, this results in different powerful emotions being expressed. You will find slow moving ballads, heavy headbangin' pieces and energetic riffs all fit together in their music.
With Materia as their latest installment they have nailed it again. Surely this album is different from their previous, yet in my opinion with but positive outcomes as a result. It is true that you won't be finding as many death growls as in their previous releases, but the more clean and emotional vocals make up for more then that. Same goes for the guitar work, it may not be defined as the heaviest of their discography, but it's certainly no less then their best. The album is really such a journey, giving away so many different feelings to it that it would be no justice describing it as mere "Death Metal" music.
If you're a (death) metal fan or can appreciate good music in general, do yourself a favor and get Materia now. This is truly a fantastic album by a way to underrated band."
Patrick Stott | Rolleston, Canterbury, New Zealand | 08/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Have you ever been listening to a song on the radio thinking "hmm, this isn't too bad, but you know, it would be better if the drummer suddenly let rip with a double kick drum frenzy"? Or perhaps you've thought "this song is OK, but it would be really cool if the guitarist really kicked his guitar into overdrive here"? Well, chances are, listening to the radio, neither of these things are ever going to happen, but listen to `Materia' by Novembre and that's exactly what you'll get.
Italian outfit Novembre started as an off-centre Death Metal band, throwing in acoustic passages and clean vocals to create moods and atmospheres in an era where such things were gimmick rather than commonplace. Over five albums, the band's sound has evolved to a point where it is not Death Metal by any stretch of the imagination, but more an amalgam of modern Rock, moody melodies and Metal highlighting. Imagine if bands like Tool or Audioslave or Nickelback actually knew what Metal was, and occasionally used Metal-sounding guitars, or had drummers who could genuinely kick out the jams. Thankfully too, the album title has nothing to do with a Final Fantasy video game obsession.
The advantage of playing mostly Rock, while coming from a Metal background, means that Novembre still know how to let rip and carve up a song when they need to. Listening to the album, the first few tracks pass by, doing more than enough to keep the listener interested, but occasionally there seems to be something missing. That's where the old Metal skills come in. The vocals are clean, clear and plaintive, which can become a little one-dimensional at times, and you wish the vocalist would just cough up a wad of phlegm and let rip with a gravelly Death Grunt, and suddenly, on the fourth track "Aquamarine" he does! A bit further on through the album, you find yourself wondering "hey, do ya reckon these guys can still play fast"? And then the introduction to "Comedia" blasts through the speakers, a high tempo, full on Death Metal blast.
If you're looking for an album of Cryptopsy-esque techno-Death, or slabs of straight forward Obituary-style Death Metal, you're looking in the wrong place here. This is an album of subtleties, but without the all too common descent into Gothic idiocy. Often, the only clue to this not being above-average radio Rock is a too-heavy guitar, or drums being played too aggressively. Still, Novembre keep it reasonably simple, relying on little outside the guitar/drums/bass/vocal staple. "Geppetto" is sung in the band's native Italian, something which many bands from non-English speaking backgrounds don't do enough of. Perhaps a criticism which could be levelled at this album is the songs are too long at times, sometimes playing like a couple of different, unrelated tunes stuck together with a bridge.
While not something likely to become an instant classic, or indeed anyone's favourite album, `Materia' is an album to revisit when you can't face a dose of screaming bloody gore. Imagine Opeth without the boring bits, or a less Folk-oriented Amorphis. And forget all your hair-splitting genre labels, like Atmospheric Melodic Trad/Death Folk Metal, because you'll just end up with a silly list of meaningless words which don't come near describing the music."
A Pleasent, Engaging album...
JohnDoe | Melbourne, Australia | 08/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Novembre's Materia is a wonderful mix of Dark Rock, Alternative, and Acoustic Rock. Songs like Memoria Stoica/Vetro, Croma and Nothijngrad are standouts, dawdling, encompassing songs that revolve around wonderful vocals, (mostly sung in Italian). This is a strong, steady, album that doesn't let you down as it progresses through the mature songs."