Doom metal purists, never friends to this powerful U.S. band anyway, will be especially incensed upon the release of "The Novella Reservoir". On this, their sixth album, NOVEMBERS DOOM evolves further away from the tenets of the genre that birthed them, and embraces more fully their own unique and confident blending of multiple kinds of metal. There's an aggression and a fierceness to this album in places that is unprecedented for the band, which may put some off, but the overall result is a complex, dynamic, highly emotional piece of dark heavy metal that's unified in feeling, if not rigid genre dogma.Opener "Rain" will throw some for a loop right away — it's a harsh, forceful midtempo song with angry, bellowing death vocals and a chugging riff that wouldn't be out of place in a SIX FEET UNDER song! After this abrupt and startling opener, things get more familiar, with a slower tempo and huge, open chords heralding the title track. Even here, though, there's an insistent, forceful tone to the guitars, and vocalist Paul Kuhr sounds lethally pissed off. Kuhr's clean vocals have really come a long way, and here he uses a multi-tracked chorus in a lower register for a very haunting effect. The juxtaposition of these with his death growls helps create multiple moods within one song, similar to (and I know the band hates this comparison) OPETH at their best, though NOVEMBERS DOOM always retain a more classic, melancholy English sort of doom atmosphere. Even on a more aggressive song, like "The Voice of Failure", we're treated to a heartfelt "clean" chorus, while on "Twilight Innocence" the entire song takes on an almost tender mood, even dishing up some surprisingly uplifting lyrics. Don't get me wrong, this isn't some radical departure — "They Were Left To Die" and the somber "Leaving This" are perhaps the most familiar-sounding NOVEMBERS DOOM tracks here, delivering the band's classy doom-tinged sound in the most expected way. Even these songs seem infused with an extra intensity, though, a raw urgency and power that few, if any, bands in their field can touch. From their days as devotees of the classic doom/death bands, NOVEMBERS DOOM has become one of the genre's leading lights, and "The Novella Reservoir" finds them rewriting the rule book, effectively creating their own place to dwell in the extreme music pantheon, and laying down one helluva gauntlet for the next generation to follow. Don't worry about genres at all, just embrace it for the somber metal masterpiece it is.
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