Novembers Doom are certainly a very interesting band, to say the least. Starting off as a death/doom band, their musical evolution has caused the 'doom' aspect of their work to fade away gradually with each album, and here we are in 2011 with Aphotic.
This is by no means an outstanding album, but it certainly does have a lot of great qualities to it. The first notable quality is the way the music changes from heavy, crushing riffs with harsh vocals to calm, clean/acoustic guitars with melodic singing (an example of which can be found at the transition at 3:47 on the first track, The Dark Host). This isn't exactly innovative, as it has been done by many bands before, but it definitely is refreshing, as so many bands these days rely on cliched and ever-so-boring breakdowns in their music.
Sometimes, there is even a combination of guttural vocals and clean guitar sections, such as on the most doom metal influenced track on the record, Buried. This combination makes the vocals seem darker and more haunting.
Then, we have the truly beautiful moments. It's ironic that the best song on a death metal record is the only song with completely acoustic stringed instruments and no harsh vocals. What Could Have Been is a genuinely heartfelt and emotional ballad, made brilliant down to the female guest singer, and how she intertwines with Paul Kuhr.
However, every album has its downsides, and Aphotic is no exception. The main downfall to this album are the vocals. The harsh vocals are very average; they're not bad, they're just what you'd expect from a death metal album. However, the cleans are pretty bad, Paul Kuhr sounding loosely familiar to Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch. His clean vocals have no range to them whatsoever, which is extremely disappointing.
Another negative is that some of the songs are generally bland and uninspiring, such as Harvest Scythe and Six Sides.
To summarise, Novembers Doom are a very refreshing band in these troubled times for metal music, and if they can just up their game ever so slightly on their next album, they truly will be a force to be reckoned with. You could say that this album is a stepping stone in their somewhat varied career.
* Nice clean interludes and heavy to melodic transitions
* Some of the riffs here are great, like the opening riff to 'The Dark Host'
* 'What Could Have Been' throws in a nice bit of variation to the album
* Bad clean vocals
* Some very uninspiring songs like 'Harvest Scythe' and 'Six Sides'
*The Dark Host
*What Could Have Been