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Novembre - Ursa CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.33 | 11 ratings

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3 stars Italian band NOVEMBRE is a veteran purveyor of sophisticated metal, with a history going back to 1990 and eight full length albums to their name so far. "Ursa" is the most recent of these, and appeared on UK label Peaceville Records in the spring of 2016.

I'll have to admit that Novembre is one of many bands that have flown under my radar, and that they've had a wee little hiatus lasting nine years as recording artists may possibly have something to do with that. I surmise then that this production will be a welcome and for some unexpected return by a band one might presume have a fairly well established fan base.

I'll give the band credit for exploring a type of metal that is a bit on the side of what other bands are exploring. While I haven't been close in touch with the metal scene for quite some time, Novembre comes across as a band that have ventures into landscapes of a kind not all that often explored by others. The manner in which they alternate between gentle, often folk-tinged escapades and harder edged, more intense arrangements is fascinating, especially when they opt for gradual transitional stages moving from one to the other rather than more abrupt changes or going from one to the other by way of intermissions of varying kinds. Especially some of those gentler passages felt truly inspired for me, and I also rather fancied the instances when that subtle touch of folk music was maintained also into the sequences with more of a metal based foundation.

Other features will be more of a case of subjective taste however, and for me at least also aspects that is a bit more on the negative side of things. Neither the growl style vocals nor the distanced, subtly sleepy but melodic and controlled vocals really managed to intrigue me. Partially due to form and execution, partially due to how the vocals are partially hidden in the mix. The latter details became something of a detrimental aspect for me as well, as the constant loud soundscapes became just too overpowering for me to really be able to focus and concentrate: As someone listening with a fairly total focus on the music itself, the constant presence of massive, loud soundscapes became tiring, despite numerous alterations in style and pace and clever use of minor, subtle details to add contrast and details to hone in on.

The album is well produced, and the above described affects comes across as planned as well as wanted features, but you need to have a mind and perhaps an approach to listen to music a bit different than what I have to be able to fall for the charms of this production. I guess that stating that there's just too much going on too often might be an apt description of this, and that too many details are too loud at the same time is the more detailed description one might give. Especially if you have the tendency to focus on the vocals, which generally have been mixed down to a barely audible level on a fairly consistent basis throughout.

Those fond of loud, majestic soundscapes and arrangements and material that has a tendency to stay massive, majestic and fairly grandiose on a fairly consistent level should take note of this CD, and then especially those who fancy such an approach applied to a band that explores a type of metal that features both experimental and doom-laden arrangements, with a liberal touch of subtly folk-music inspired details on top. At worst a pleasant but well produced affair worth giving an occasional spin, at best and for the right audience most likely a production that will be cherished and praised for it's specific sound and approach.

Windhawk | 3/5 |


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