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Novembre - Classica (Re-Release) (9,5/10) - Italy - 1999/2008

Genre: Death Metal / Progressive Metal
Label: Peaceville Records
Playing time: 63:10
Band homepage: Novembre

Tracklist:

  1. Cold Blue Steel
  2. Tales From A Winter To Come
  3. Nostalgiaplatz
  4. My Starving Bambina
  5. Love Story
  6. L'epoque Noire (March The 7th 12973 A.D.)
  7. Onirica East
  8. Foto Blu Infinito
  9. Winter 1941
  10. Outro - Spirit Of The Forest (Tales... Reprise)
  11. Colour Of An Eye
  12. Tales From A Winter To Come (Demo Version)
  13. Winter 1941 (Demo Version)
Novembre - Classica (Re-Release)

Nine years after the original release of “Classica”, Italian NOVEMBRE’s third album, sees a re-working courtesy of Peaceville Records, completely re-mastered and with three bonus tracks to stretch the overall playing time to a little more than 63 minutes. I remember that it had been one of my very first reviews ever back then, so I find this a very good opportunity to a) re-visit an album that I had thoroughly enjoyed back then and b) probably do it more justice as well with a more refined review (also as I can reflect on the band’s evolution since), so here we go...

 

For many years NOVEMBRE have been in the shadow of their soulmates of OPETH, who are travelling comparable avenues beyond the mainstream highways, instead rather choosing the less obvious paths, but with obviously far more attention and acclaim, and before anybody tries to say that the Italians just merely followed in the Swedes’ path, they actually released their debut album before OPETH! Many people hail “Classica” as their best work, while for me it is almost impossible to single out one particular release, as they have changed so much throughout the years (and yet stayed true to themselves at the same time) and one album can hardly be compared to another.

 

Compared to some of the following releases, the Death Metal influence still is prevalent, especially in the vocals, while the music touches many different bases on the way through the ten original songs, drawing from Doom, Death, Prog, some Gothic and elements in-between, which does not make things immediately accessible or even catchy, but offer enough of an initial hook to draw the listener into their world and then reveal more and more details with each repeated listen, making the experience extraordinarily rewarding, as it just does not get boring. Another parallel to the Swedish shooting stars is that the band around the Orlando brothers Carmelo and Giuseppe and guitarist Massimiliano Pagliuso (with changing bassists) manages to mesh all of these influences into dynamic and flowing songs that do not need to rely on musical showmanship to impress, but on actual high quality song writing.

 

It is striking that there are only two tracks of more than six minutes on “Classica”, but thanks to sweeping instrumental passages and clever use of atmospherics and moods none of the tracks seem rushed (given the style) or underdeveloped. Opener “Cold Blue Steel” is not even five and a half minutes long, but gives you the impression that the track had been rolling and heaving for at least double the time, as the structuring is so masterfully erected that the Italians do not need more time to completely enrapture you. As mentioned in my original review, it is very hard to point out certain songs, as they all are part of a very compact unit of challenging, but fascinating songs that have so much to offer and still leave you wanting more.

 

Especially when the instrumental passages take on this melancholic feeling (and sometimes offer us the calm clear vocals as well), there is no other word for me to describe them than “beautiful”, but even when they raise the bar of heaviness a little, as in the almost aptly named “Love Story”, it fits and does not get any less appealing and fascinating than when they let the emotions flow freely. “Onirica East” is one of the best examples for what NOVEMBRE are capable of doing, combining fast Death Metal eruptions with the already mentioned emotional and melancholic quiet passages, thus creating dynamics that most bands can only dream of.

 

Even after nine years “Classica” has not lost any of its appeal and class and should be a must for anybody, who likes this style, because they are one of the best bands you will find out there, period!

(Online February 10, 2009)

Alexander Melzer



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