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Novalis - Novalis CD (album) cover

NOVALIS

Novalis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 125 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
3 stars According to current ProgArchives standings the sophomore album by German band Novalis is the most popular, but it's not my personal favourite. It has its moments for sure, including one killer track. However I think one or two of the band's later albums are better, but that's something to return to in future reviews. Keyboards largely dominate and there's some particularly effective use of the clavinet; this instrument is sadly overlooked by many keyboardists in my opinion. I'm not sure whether a string-synthesizer or Mellotron provides the string effects on the album. It's used quite sparsely whatever it is and it's also buried in the mix, so the argument is largely academic. The album contains 6 tracks (including one bonus track) and is mainly instrumental, with what vocals there are being in native German. I can't say I find German as aesthetically pleasing to my ears as the Romance languages but as I said, vocals are few and far between.

Sonnengeflecht is a fairly nondescript instrumental to get us under way. It starts and finishes with a funky beat of all things, although synthesizer and clavinet combine to good effect during the middle section. The structurally complex Wer Schmetterlinge Lachen Hort is one of only two tracks that include vocals, provided by bassist Heino Schunzel. It's an interesting piece but it really only grabs me around the mid-point of its 9 minutes, with Detlef Job's shrieking guitar leads. Unfortunately this is rapidly replaced by some straightforward Hammond-led boogie. Other than for a growl right at the start of the track, Dronsz is a space-rock instrumental. The first 3 minutes consist of guitar and synthesizer effects over a ground bass, gung-gung-tih, gung-gung-tih. We get a different beat for the remainder of the track, but it's still fairly relentless. Impressionen, based on themes by Austrian Romantic composer Anton Bruckner, is more like it! After a moody 2-minute introduction, we are treated to a series of different themes consisting of fiery guitar, swirling organ and synthesizer. The lyrics of Es Farbte Sich Die Wiese Grun are based on writings by the German Romantic author from whom the band took their name. This song checks all the right boxes but I just find it a tad dull. The final track is a live version of Impressionen that suffers from some serious distortion, especially in the drum department. This is a pity because it's an energetic and powerful performance.

All in all there's not a lot to get excited about here, and I can only stretch to describing this as a steady album. There is at the least one very good track so it's not quite at the 'fans only' level, therefore I'll give it 3 stars.

seventhsojourn | 3/5 |

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