With their sixth album “The Blue” Italian NOVEMBRE have once again taken a step forward in their evolution, just this time by taking a step back and to the side. What now reads like a paradoxon makes perfect sense, though, once you put it into context with the band’s musical development in the past ten years.
What had started out as some sort of Progressive Death Metal on their debut “…Wish I Could Dream It Again” way back in 1994 over time took a turn towards the more melancholic side of Metal, tuning down the heaviness in favour of more filigree and emotional compositions for 2006’s “Materia” album. Now who expected the band around the Orlando brothers to further follow down this path with “The Blue”, like I did myself, will be in for quite a surprise, because the growls and overall heaviness have crept back into the NOVEMBRE sound, while still maintaining a distinctly gloomy and melancholic feeling that is now offset by the wider array of dynamics to be found.
And by uniting the new and the old, NOVEMBRE have created their maybe most diverse and complete album to date, in style closest to “Novembrine Waltz”, but overall sounding more mature then ever. At the same time the Italians also somewhat sacrificed some of the more immediate accessibility of “Materia” (don’t get me wrong, the Triestines never have been catchy per se), which make it just a tad bit harder to find your way into this album, if you are uninitiated.
My biggest personal problem with “The Blue” while writing this review doesn’t have anything to do with the quality, but rather the dilemma I am facing to not really being able to pick out any particular song or on the other end of the extreme having to mention all of them, as they form such a cohesive whole. Harsh and at times mean Death Metal vocals meet harmonic, emotional and at times almost frail voices (predominantly male, but here and there supported by a lady as well), powerful guitars are countered by soft acoustic guitars and at least on one song even some flute, and despite the progressive nature of the songs they manage to keep a flow going that few other bands of this rough direction can rival.
Another brilliant musical outing by the quartet that stays true to its style, yet manages to continue to develop its sound, even though you should definitely have an affinity to the more progressive (and with that I do not mean complex) spectrum of our beloved style to fully appreciate what is going on here. And I have not used the “O” word even once, even though it sometimes was tempting, but NOVEMBRE are just too good and original to have to be compared!
(Online December 24, 2007)