Novembers Doom - _Into Night's Requiem Infernal_
(The End Records, 2009)
by: Mark Dolson (8.5 out of 10)
The latest output from Chicago's Novembers Doom, _Into Night's Requiem Infernal_, sees the band continuing the unique style of highly atmospheric dark metal found on their previous six albums and one EP. There aren't too many surprises musically or lyrically on this album, though, save for the fact that we see the band edging a little deeper into darker territory -- both musically and lyrically. Much like _The Novella Reservoir_ (2007) and _The Pale Haunt Departure_ (2005), the lyrical content on _Into Night's Requiem Infernal_ centres on personal struggles and existential issues, particularly of the sort the German philosopher Karl Jaspers called "limit" or "border situations" (grenzsituationen) -- those experiences in life that exceed our ability to grasp and understand them through conventional, intellectual means, like death, war or existential anxiety.

As such, death, god, and the pangs of regret and failure are common themes throughout the album's eight songs (which span some forty-four plus minutes). A case in point regarding the aforementioned themes is the song "The Fifth Day of March": a slower, melancholic threnody of sorts which features the sonorous and memorable crooning of front-man, Paul Kuhr. With its shoegazy feel (somewhat redolent of Opeth's "Face of Melinda"), the song features clean, sweeping guitars and softer, slower-paced drumming; whilst the lyrical content focuses on death (particularly the passing of Kuhr's father), and the ineffable void this experience opens up for those left behind. I must say that Kuhr's vocals really are the highlight of the album insofar as his low and guttural, albeit understandable, growls are one of the most distinctive in the death / doom / dark metal genre (along with his higher pitched screams); whilst with his clean vocals, we find much more range, emotion and character than on previous albums.

Musically, the album is heavy as ever in typical Novembers Doom fashion, and maintains the listener's attention with many memorable, down-tuned riffs. Just listen to the opener of "The Harlot's Lie": this rollicking riff is heavy and catchy, and wouldn't sound misplaced on an Arch Enemy album (particularly _Burning Bridges_). A few songs feature that typical Novembers Doom style of chord progression (harmonic and disharmonic) that wash over the listener with a sense of hope in the undulating waves of desolation -- just listen to the beginning of the song "I Hurt Those I Adore" to see what I mean. One noticeable difference in terms of musicianship on the album is the drumming: _Into Night's Requiem Infernal_ sees newcomer Sasha Horn (of Palace Terrace and These Are They fame) take over the stool from long time drummer Joe Nunez. I find Horn's drumming faster, more agile and more intricate than Nunez's slower, plodding style. To this end, Horn's drumming gives the songs that much more of a dynamic edge, making Novembers Doom, in my opinion, a more versatile band.

Sadly, a major complaint I have with _Into Night's Requiem Infernal_ is the lack of guitarist Vito Marchese's melodic solos -- they seem to have all but vanished from the songs! And this is a damned shame inasmuch as Marchese seems to be an under-used talent here. Aside from this rather major setback, though, _Into Night's Requiem Infernal_is a strong and solid effort that sees the band crystallising their considerable talents in making atmospheric and philosophically sophisticated dark metal. I can't wait to see what they do next.


(article published 24/10/2009)

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