Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Novembers Doom: "Bled White"
I went into this album, with hardly any knowledge of seeing the name around various sites. I assumed they were a doom band , but they are more like Fear Factory of they abandoned all the industrial elements and replaced the Pantera fixation with groove with a taste for Swedish death metal. The band is not from Sweden , but from Chicago.Novembers Doom has been around since 1995, and this is their ninth album explaining why everything is composed so perfectly and interlocks in a flawless manner. They are melodically in the same realm as Woods of Ypres, though the clean vocal which tend to show up around their chorus' are sometimes a little Katatonia , in their morose chant like quality.
While the vocal approach is cool, the star of the show here is the drummer who constantly keeps the songs not only moving but more well defined.They move like a more technical death metal band ,where the guitar takes a more sluggish lumbering groove above them.This would not be called commercial , yet there is a lot of emphasis placed on the vocal hooks. "Heartfelt"has a coating of melodrama offset by the low death metal like growls, which are articulate and keep the lyrical themes very concise.The good cop/ bad cop approach to vocals has almost been overdone, these guys make it work better than any band since Woods of Ypres. My Dying Bride can also be a point of reference , in their music has an almost gothic gloom to it , but is still more metal than say Type O Negative. The band works best in their bleaker moments, such as "Just Breathe".It is almost like a doomy power ballad or if Queensryche got really depressed, though the chorus comes much closer to Katatonia.
They lash back with "Unrest" which is almost more of a Morbid Angel like death metal, until the hooky sung chorus sweeps in.These clean vocals can be slightly predictable, but they are very well produced, which makes a bigger difference than you might think. When it comes to their more straight up heavier sound "the Brave Pawn" is a pretty speedy chugger.
"The Memory Room" gets back to the better balance of what they do, the mixture of dark melody and looming crunch.The clean vocals sit well in the song , when they do come in and even when they are the dominant vocal , they don't always follow where someone like My Dying Bride might go, ruminating in their grief rather than what might make the melody really sound different."Clear" also hovers in this direction the more A Perfect Circle like leaning.
The darker goth tinged moments that recall the late 90's to me , dig themselves up from the grave on "The Grand Circle". The band has repeatedly stated they are not a doom band, this is not untrue but there are certainly shades of doom, perhaps not how people think of it today, and not overly Sabbath influenced either. When employing the type of dynamics "Animus" employ, the more death metal side of what they do stands out. Sure the clean vocals come in on the chorus as the established formula for this album seems to be, but I can't imagine them doing it any other way.The layers of guitar balancing the cleaner toned guitar over the over-driven metal guitar is always a favorite of mine. They close out the album on a dark not with "the Silent Dark". This song is not dramatically different from their dramatic approach, the drums continue to dominate, with the vocals coming up a close second.The song's ebb and flow takes a bit to really kick off like the others. I don't think this one has the song's strongest melody either, but it's still better than decent if based on the drumming alone. There is a good smackdown for the ending that builds things up in the epic manner you would expect.
Overall this albums succeeds in painting the kind of Sirrus radio friendly bleakness they set out to construct. I'll gave this one an 8.5 , I enjoyed it but not wowed by every song, yet seem to able able to just leave it on.