Novembers Doom - _The Pale Haunt Departure_
(The End Records, 2005)
by: Aaron McKay (10 out of 10)
Like some backwards college professor needing to feel superior to a class of students in some pathetic way, I have lots of difficulty acknowledging there exists no room for improvement on an album. But hold the phone. When confronted with the newest offering from Novembers Doom, that notion melted away like so much Iowa snow under a mid day August sun. _The Pale Haunt Departure_ would more-than-likely suffer if anything more or less was done to it.

Being only February and having the marvelous Dark Tranquillity effort, _Character_, already in regular rotation in my JVC player, 2005 is shaping up to be an incredible year for metal. I have what could amount to the number one and number two of my top 10 for this year already in hand. Nearly inconceivable, but true and I am glad for it.

After an unbelievable back catalog, Illinois's own Novembers Doom have pushed themselves to the point where everything has come together perfectly; _TPHD_ ties together a compelling culmination of style, elements and atmosphere. With all deference to My Dying Bride, Opeth or Katatonia, I would put _The Pale Haunt Departure_ up against any of their efforts for content and ability to redefine the texture of mood. The topics put forth on this album are anything but comfortable or easy, with incredibly intelligent lyrics that disquiet the soul. Complex and rich, the experience is both verbally and emotionally disconcerting down to the very fiber of one's being.

Over fifty minutes in length, _TPHD_ works the listener over with sweeping transformations ranging from lengthy passages of instrumentation to crushing sections. After eight tracks, you are pleasantly exhausted and craving more. With mixing duties compliments of Dan Swano and production by James "Disincarnate" Murphy, _The Pale Haunt Departure_ has become as a Midwestern sentinel guarding the notion that metal knows no boundaries!


(article published 10/3/2005)

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