Review Summary: An impressive debut that manages to stamp out its own sound despite showing a heavy influence from other groups.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
The popularity of the modern progressive metal scene has risen exponentially in the past few years, with the increased exposure of bands like Periphery and Protest the Hero. Unfortunately, like most genres that explode quickly, it's becoming dangerously close to becoming overexposed at this point. The defining albums have been released, and have been copied by less popular bands with much less success. This saturation of copy/paste bands makes it harder for the truly talented bands rising in the wake of this popularity boom to stick out amongst all the mediocre, low-tuned shlock. Novallo is undeniably one of these true talents, and although they show their influences rather blatantly, they hit hard with quality songwriting and stunning technicality and forge a memorable sound to call their own.
A lot of metal bands nowadays incorporate electronic elements into their music, but Novallo is a more pure combination than most normally achieve. The cocktail here is more along the lines of smoothly stirred Zack Ordway-era Sky Eats Airplane than the jarring half-blend of bands like Asking Alexandria; it penetrates every aspect of the music, never breaks the flow, and never feels invasive or unnatural. From the stuttering chorus of "Agile of Perception" to the glitchy ending of "4 Eyes Win!," Novallo pulls off a truly dual sound with a startling amount of coherency. This sounds is amplified by the production - normally the liberal use of staccato, noise-gated guitars would be offensive to the ear, but here it just further reinforces the glitchy atmosphere.
Of course, all of this would be meaningless if the songs weren't any good. And they are - "Level Nine" feels like the true soundtrack to a final boss fight with its epic, escalating progression; "Visually Silent" is a vocal highlight, and slightly less intense than the surrounding material; and "Tides" feels like the EP's born single, neatly encompassing every aspect of the band in one catchy package. An interesting decision was made to have the tracks run seamlessly into each other, and the transitions are done well - too well, in fact. The EP's songs sometimes feel like they blend together, because they literally blend together. On a longer release this might have become quite an issue, but here it's simply a minor complaint.
If you don't like the newer progressive metal bands that have been surfacing, then this release isn't going to change your mind in the slightest, as it doesn't add any new elements to the genre. But if you're into this sort of thing, or have been passing it up completely, you'd do well to check this out.