Sometimes I wonder why it is that so many great albums fly under the radar so quickly. There are tons of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered which sound so good and so professional that you would think it was an album by an artist of higher stature. So, while you have the popular bands out there tripping and falling on their faces (again) but still garnering much attention and hype, you have albums by bands which play music for the sake of, well, the sake of playing music. I have no doubt in my mind that if any metal fan scratched just inches below the surface of big-name acts they would find material which out paces and out plays those bands which, for some odd and unknown reason, sell albums which were performed with a noticeable sense of laziness and lack of creativity.
Such is the case with Italian band Novembre’s third long player, Classica
. The similarities between Novembre and the highly acclaimed progressive death metal band Opeth are quite astounding, but the differences are equally potent. No, this band isn’t an Opeth clone, so there is no reason to think that you have heard this album before, it’s just that Novembre plays the same relative style of metal, with clean vocals and death metal vocals alike, and acoustic passages, slower pace, etc. However, Novembre does it with a meticulous attention to detail, making sure that every single moment of each song has something interesting which the listener will appreciate. The amount of dead space on this record is nil, there isn’t really a moment where you question if the song has ended or not. They don’t attempt to create these insane, epic 14 minute tracks, they keep the song lengths in the realm of the human attention span, with most of the songs falling into the 4 ½ to 5 minute range, a good length but nothing insane. So the first thing to note here is that this is not the kind of album which will put you to sleep with boredom.
The decision to make the track lengths rather short (in comparison to other bands of the same genre) does not mean that those moments of serenity and calm are gone. Quite the contrary, actually, there are multiple instances where the music slows to a crawl and an acoustic guitar strums away to the melodies of clean vocals. The break in the middle of the impressive “Tales From A Winter To Come” is the perfect example, because it separates the two halves of heavy, heavy death metal sections and just gives you a small break. The melodies present are also quite potent. There are some seriously, seriously intense riffs here which are impossible to not notice. Every single song is packed with guitar riffs which sound so melodic and emotional, you will keep thinking to yourself that there is no way that the entire album could be like this. That’s the case with the first two tracks, because “Cold Blue Steel” and “Tales From A Winter To Come” just slap you in the face with this seriously impressive guitar performance.
While those two tracks are both heavy and melodic, the other side of Classica
comes forth in the oddly titled “Nostalgiaplatz”, which is purely clean vocals, which seem distant and very out-of-body in their production and tone. The guitars play an important role, as they are the driving force of this track, not the vocals. The riffing at the beginning and the solo at the end are both a treat for the ears, because on this album you get the melodic guitars in both the calmer songs and the heavy songs. Generally, the album is paced at a very interesting mid-tempo, usually breaking that to go slower. Occasionally, though, we get the faster paced song such as “Love Story”, but even that has it’s slower moments, which gives the album a very doom metal-like atmosphere, something which I greatly appreciate because it’s nice to listen to a death metal album which goes this slowly.
In case it’s not apparent yet, this album is quite the showcase of opposites. You have your fast paced and slow paced sections, your clean and death metal vocals, your electric and acoustic guitars, your moments of insanity and your moments of serenity, Classica
really is an interesting take on the death metal genre, bordering along the lines of progressive and doom, with each of those elements making an appearance here. Sure, you can relate it to Opeth, as I’m sure many people will, but the fact is this is an entirely different sound. It’s more contained, it’s more melodic, and it’s more meaningful. Just one listen and I’m sure you will agree, Novembre’s Classica
is a stunning achievement in songwriting ability and execution.
+ Insane Melodies
+ Awesome Vocals
+ Great Pacing
+ Lots Of Variety
+ Excellent Production
- Clean Vocals Are Hit Or Miss