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Novalis - Novalis CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.78 | 173 ratings

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3 stars Like contemporaries HOELDERLIN, and the late-comers ANYONE'S DAUGHTER, NOVALIS' self-titled album is actually their second, and this is fitting because it more closely represents the personality of the group during its peak commercial period. The two major changes are the addition of lead guitar and the switch to German vocals, with new singer Heino Schünzel. The music takes on a more typical German symphonic sound, and the organ and other keyboards, while still prominent, share the spotlight with the fretted instrument. While the sound is definitely heavier than on the group's debut, it isn't necessarily more vivacious.

The album is dominated by 3 lengthy cuts, all of which have some fine moments, like the oddly folkish sounding vocal melody of "Wer Schmetterlinge lachen Hört", bearing a resemblance to STEELEYE SPAN's "Sir James the Rose" in meter. "Impressionen" includes a haunting recurrent organ tune. "Es färbte sich die Wiese grün" is the best, beginning with eerie almost flute-like synthesizers that borrow from KING CRIMSON and will eventually bequeath to MIKE OLDFIELD in "The Lake". Heino seems most at home on the verses in this closing cut, and a harpsichord like riff provides a bass for the best guitar work on the album. The problem is, apart from these highlights, the album contains a lot of filler, even within the other signature tracks. The guitar solos are assertive enough but are clearly instantiated just to support the main theme, and do not enhance any elusive romantic quality or progressive masterpiece status. Regardless of whether or not this constitutes lazy composing and arranging, it doesn't impress me a whole lot.

Throw in a couple of instrumentals, one catchy and decent, and one dreary and convulsive, and you have an album slightly inferior to the group's debut, and just good enough to be rounded up and played annually.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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