Novembre-08-The Promise (ArcadiaDuran Duran Cover).mp3
Announce URL: http://tracker.prq.to/announce
A fine example of a group improving after "mellowing up".
Nowadays there has been a common opinion that once musicians remove the heaviness or the complexity from their sound, their music gets watered down and loses some of its quality and inspiration. In the world of Progressive Metal, some of the confirmation of that theory are numberless: Opeth, Green Carnation, that list goes on... Fortunately for us, Novembre's latest release Materia is an exception to this rule. Since the group has just been added to the archives a few days ago, a short introduction in this review wouldn't be out of place. Novembre are from Italy and were among the pioneers of the extreme metal influenced prog in the early 90's and have remained an innovative collective ever since. They are commonly compared to Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Edge Of Sanity and especially Opeth(possibly due to the popularity of the latter), and although I can see where they are coming from(this is beautiful music with heavy parts), it is important to notice that Novembre are musicians of their own original ideas and any similarities can be explained by the similar period of activity, as well as somewhat close influences.
Whilst there was an abundancy of both heavy parts with growls, that could be compared to Dan Swano's work, and clean parts, often with acoustic guitars, accordian or keyboards, on the previous efforts, Materia witnesses the musicians taking a more relaxed, laid-back approach to the music, with the mellow moments clearly outnumbering the few heavy ones. Five whole years have passed since their previous album Novembrine Waltz(we're not going to count Dreams d'Azur because it was a re-rerecording of the debut album)and that's one of the reasons why it is interesting to see how their sound has developed since then. First thing that comes to mind is that Carmelo Orlando, group's vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, is even less shy of delivering a greater vocal performance. He puts on various voices throughout the record, adding to the sound of melancholy the album creates, and it is safe to say that if one enjoys his passionate singing he will love Novembre music just as much. Carmelo's singing is an important part of the group's music indeed. Giuseppe Orlando, his brother, is one of the best and also most underrated drummers in modern Progressive Rock. There aren't as many opportunities to show his skills during faster parts as on earlier albums, however, he shines throught, not merely showing off his skill, but adding to the music.
Not a single weak track can be found on the album. All emotionally powerful and excellently written, the songs flow well together as a whole and alone, without any two songs sounding the same. I wouldn't say this is happy music, however, it is definitely very uplifting and has a remarkable feel of summer - something that is very appropriate for this time. Verne sets the vibe that can be felt when listening to the whole and includes lyrics written partly in Italian. I think that singing in your own language is a very good idea as it, in most cases, sounds more sincere and natural, although there are vocalists who put on vocals in English much more successfully even than native English speaking singers. That can definitely be said about Carmelo Orlando.
Memoria Stoica and Reason are next and they deserve being commented on because of the post-rock influence that is very present and significant here. This influence can be felt throughout the whole album, yet these songs are more post-rocking than anything else. The third track has acoustic guitar work that reminds me of maudlin of the Well's interludes a lot for some reason. Aquamarine, the next song, is hands down my favourite composition here. The main vocal harmony is my favourite from Novembre, the songwriting is brilliant and the magnificent solo create an incomparable atmosphere that sends chills down my spine. Then you can feel the song getting more tense and you can see what is going to come next - the first extreme part. It comes almost spontaneously(in a good way), and once again proves the musicians being masters of music, knowing precisely when and how to use which elements to achieve the necessary results.
Jules supposedly means 'July' in Italian and proves my assumption of Materia being a summer themed music. My favourite moment comes in at about 2:37. Geppetto is next offering more pleasant moments to the listener. I can not bet what the song is really about, but I believe that it refers to the character from Pinocchio. I like it how Novembre uses such names that are closely associated with their native land(Come Pierrot and Venezia Dismal also come to mind). Comedia follows and starts with blast beats, something that is an unusual sight in this album. I suppose it all serves to the artist's aim for this song as Carmello also comically hits "funny" notes. Only those who haven't listened to My Dying Bride will say that this singing is not related to Aaron Stainthorpe, widely known for such vocal performances. Comedia also has my favourite guitar solo on this record(the first of the two), which, unlike most solo's in rock music, actually adds something to the song. Promise is next and what do you know, it's a Duran Duran cover. You'd think that's an unexpected choice but it actually isn't Novembre have covered Depeche Mode and Kate Bush on their previous releases and are influenced by pop music, which serves the purpose of making the music more emotional and memorable, as I have noticed. I haven't heard the original, but I really like this cover. It sounds very Novembresque, meaning that if I hadn't known it was a cover I wouldn't doubt it is their own song. A nice choice, really!
We have only three songs left and all three include extreme vocals - the title track and Croma in the end, and Nothjingrad throughout in moderate amounts that won't scare off even the biggest growl hater. Once again, the way the extreme side of the music comes in is very original. Croma is an extremely unique song even for Novembre and could take some time getting used to. I especially like the transition where the shriek comes out - Dance... Dance... AAARGH! - unpredictable, but natural on repeat listens. Nothijngrad closes the album and despite flowing with other songs well, it is also the track that reminds me of older Novembre the most. The riffs here are among the best that can be found on the release and you can't help listening to it in awe.
What is left for me to say that this is so far the most enjoyable album you'll be able to acquire this year. Novembre's faithful fans will find something to love on this release and every person who hasn't been introduced to this Itallian group's work yet should start with this album, as it should be much easier to find than the group's back catalogue. This album is less extreme than Novembre's earlier music, so it should be checked first by the people who aren't keen on darker Progressive Metal. Recommended to anyone seeking an emotional and marvellous musical journey this year!