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Novalis - Brandung CD (album) cover

BRANDUNG

Novalis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.29 | 91 ratings

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Lewian
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Brandung is the first Novalis studio album with the new singer Fred Muehlboeck. It marks a transition from Novalis' more symphonic and epic period to shorter straighter songs. The opener "Irgendwo Irgendwann" shows where Novalis would go after this album. They tried it out as a single with moderate success. It's a very optimistic up-beat rock song with earworm qualities that ended up as a celebrated standard on their concerts until the end of the band. It plays very well to Muehlboeck's show qualities as the band's front man, which was something they didn't have before he entered the band. Given that the rest of the album is of a different mood and style, I'm fine with this song. "Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren" is a beautiful, delicate and poetic song inspired by classical music. "Astralis" is powerful prog rock showing off the band's musicality and good hand for melodies and arrangements, although it becomes somewhat repetitive toward the intense end. The second side has the 17-minutes opus "Sonnenwende". This starts with "Brandung", one of their very straight instrumentals with a very nice flute melody. The remainder of Sonnenwende shows the qualities mentioned before again, with pleasant melodies and tasteful arragements. "Sonnenwende" can be seen as four songs; there is not much in terms of recurring or overarching themes that glue the parts together, apart from the lyrics and the fact that the beginning of each part works well at the end of the previous one. What can be criticised about the album and particularly about "Sonnenwende" is that the musical substance is limited. The album is very short, less than 34 minutes, and on top of that there is quite a bit of repetition and some time is spent on predictable variations of the same theme.

Brandung definitely has its moments, but despite it being good to listen to, "Sonnenwende" signifies that such a 17 minutes work doesn't really play to the strengths of the band anymore; the tendency to to go to more transparent and direct songs is already apparent, be it because of Muehlboeck, be it because of a changing taste of other band members, too. The next two albums will see the band elaborating this new approach with Muehlboeck's voice becoming more confident (he is OK here but seems more restricted to a certain range than later, although "Zahlen und Figuren" is sung differently from the others, much more calm and sensitive, and very nice) and more down-to-earth real-life lyrics.

3 1/2 stars.

Lewian | 3/5 |

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