Novembre - _Materia_
by: Chris Flaaten (
Novembre are finally out with an all new album, four years after the remake of their debut, _Dreams d'Azur_. These Italians have always been an interesting band, creating unique and original music, but for some reason I always felt they weren't quite there. They weren't reaching their full potential, or perhaps they were aiming higher than they were able to reach. On the aforementioned reworking of their early material, however, there was finally a good match between ideas and execution, and their hybrid of progressive, deathy doom metal really shined. As a result, I naturally expected good things from their first release on Peaceville, now clearly -the- label for artistic, original and solid metal music.While _Materia_ is an album with plenty of enjoyable music, I do however feel slightly disappointed. After weeks and even months of trying to get the songs under my skin, I have to conclude that Novembre is for me back where they usually are: not quite there. The album as a whole escapes my grasp by what feels like very little, but that little is still significant. After a slightly weak and repetitive start with "Verne", they turn on a Rapture-like groove on the second track. This vibe pops up here and there throughout the album actually, but Novembre are more progressive than the Finns, and Carmelo Orlando's sombre vocals clearly separate Novembre enough to prevent any further comparison. Also notable is a shift towards mellower songs compared to earlier works; classical-influenced acoustic parts appear quite often and blackened rasps are used very sparingly.The second half of the album seems to be the strongest and contains three songs worthy of mention. "Geppetto", where dark and intense atmospheres are woven into a beautiful acoustic framework and Carmelo really shows the most likely reason why he uses less death vocals now: he can really sing! Truly a haunting piece, in a good way. A little later this mood is again surprisingly present as they cover "The Promise" by Duran Duran(!). The original certainly had some decent ideas and pleasant melodies, but now they are allowed to truly shine in the hands of these gifted Italians.Novembre save the best for last though, in the form of album closer "Nothijngrad". This song is a roller-coaster, with its many shifts of tempo, mood, complexity and style -- all of it done in an almost seamless manner, with one elegant transition after another. One riff, which appears twice, though in slightly different variations, is nearly identical to Dimebag Darrell's playful closure of Pantera's "Floods" -- it even varies in the same way. Whether this is coincidental or a tribute to the late Riff Mastermind I do not know, but it works excellently in the song and was a pleasant surprise.Overall, while I was unable to fully get into this album, I have no choice but to give Novembre tremendous respect for staying original and honest to themselves. It's a surprisingly rare trait, event though it seems like the key ingredient for being able to make truly moving music. I still suspect Novembre will someday truly blow my mind with an utterly genius album. _Materia_ wasn't quite there. Maybe next time.
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