Novembers Doom- The Novella Reservoir (The End Records)
The mantra most would associate with seminal Chicago doomsters Novembers Doom is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", but the band's sixth full-length, the curiously titled The Novella Reservoir
, finds them breaking and fixing several elements of their sound. Granted, the tried-and-true "melodic death/doom" sound they've honed over the years is still omnipresent, complete with shifts from crushing minor chords and intelligible growling to minstrelsy acoustics and deep crooning. But the band are expanding in each direction, testing the limits of their heaviness and their mellowness. Uncharacteristically brief opener "Rain" is a full-on lesson in old-school American death metal, and haunting ballad "Twilight Innocence" doesn't even bother to break out the electrics throughout its nearly six-minute length.
Of course, there are also songs that seamlessly blend the two styles in the way that the band has been doing for years, and these tend to be the most satisfying songs. "Drown the Inland Mere" and "The Voice of Failure" provide plenty of Opethian time changes and headbang/headnod tradeoffs. The album never seems to meander or become overlong, except for the final three minutes of album closer "Leaving This", which are nothing more than quasi-choral refrains and a simple chord progression.
This album both puts to rest and reaffirms the aforementioned mantra that the band have become associated with. You're going to get melodic death-doom when you buy this, but you're also going to get a few other things.