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Novela - In The Night CD (album) cover

IN THE NIGHT

Novela

 

Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 10 ratings

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ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "In The Night" is a second album released by Japanese prog-rock band Novela. However it isn't as strong as - recorded in the same year - "La Songerie"(Japanese title: "Miwakugeki"), both albums remain the best representation of the classic, most progressive period of this band's career. Compared to the debut this record include bigger amount of shorter 3-5 minutes songs but we can also find 17 minutes symphonic suite so general prog fans should be satisfied while listening to this effort.

1. "Novella In The Night" - album surprisingly starts with some soft bells (glockenspiel?) and xylophone melody (this one for singing "A-B-C-D....") and after few seconds suddenly attacks us twin guitar violent riffing then Igarashi joins with very good, aggressive vocal. "Novella In The Night" is truly dynamic, hard rock piece with mostly not too audible Egawa's keyboards. However mellotron (?) choirs in soft fragments and sharp synthesizer solo (in the vain of later Egawa's band called "Gerard") don't let us forget that Novela is a real prog group. BTW Take note of splendid bass lines played by Yoshiro Takahashi. They play very important part, 70s tradition style

2. "Farewell" - this song starts with fanfare synthesizers sounds however after awhile we already know that it's another hard rock song with progressive touch. Up-tempo drums, electric guitar riffing & backing organ waves create truly good track. But the best is middle part with one of the best Hammond organ solos ever played by Toshio Egawa during his Novela days (anyway it's almost tradition in Novela's album that usually we can count on one solo spot of this instrument). This showcase is followed by nice, symphonic synthesizer passage. Good mixture of heavy prog and symphonic approach.

3. "Masks" - don't be fooled by relatively short time of this song 'cos it's one of the most progressive tracks. Very dramatic, theatrical vocals full of real passion (I'd really like to know what he is singin' about...) over splendid acoustic piano, harpsichord and some background synths. Very Genesis influenced IMHO.

4. "The Manor Of Count Hydra" - Wow! In this song inspiration of heavy metal Juda Priest is really evident. "Novella In The Night" & "Farewell" already showed such influences but here is no doubt about it. Crunching guitar riffs (almost Black Sabbath alike), stomping drum beat & blistering twin guitars of Terutsugu Hirayama/Mototsugu Yamane soloing are fantastic. And don't forget Igarashi who delivers very "robhalfordish", angry, sometimes high pitched vocals. To be more interesting he sometimes use English language in refrains ("Wake Up!" and "Someday...Kill You!" near the end). Egawa almost exclusively plays fat organ chops in this one (however again too much in the background for my taste).

5. "Jealousy" - (take note: this song wasn't available on original release of the album and was added later on reissues) It's quite catchy but standard pop-rock song with dominating guitars and Hisakatsu Igarashi's vocals. Egawa's synthesizers buried deep in the background here.

6. "Reminiscence" - and here comes the epic: 17 minutes symphonic rock monster. This suite is mainly dedicated to Egawa's keyboards which finally take "center stage" in this album. We have everything want prog lovers need here: outbursts of fanfare synthesizers, flute-like synthesizers (a bit like much later created Israelian band "Trespass"), Moog runs, (backing) Hammond organ, some sonic keys blasting noises, frequent changes of music motifs, frantic percussion, soft/melancholic fragments with Gabrielish vocal and many many other things. Hirayama & Yamane also don't sleep here and perfectly support Egawa's virtuosic keyboards performance. I especially like the part with acoustic, Spanish-like guitar. In general this splendid suite in Yes/Genesis tradition. And by the way: if you don't like vocalist's voice it's the song when you can hear him only in small doses.

7. "Little Dreamer" - album closes with very short and uneven ditty sang (in English!) by some uncredited female vocalist. It's arranged on some toy piano keyboard & simple acoustic guitar licks. In general sounds as lullaby if you axe me...

To sum up: "In The Night" maybe doesn't reach hights of "La Songerie" and compared to debut seems to prefer more hard rock approach than symphonic one, but it's surely Novela still in its musical peak. Shorter songs give serious prog-metal punch and "Reminiscence" deliver beautifully bombastic progressive rock a la Gabriel era "Genesis". I can only have small complain that in 1st part of the album Egawa is a bit too much overshadowed by his fellow guitarists and overall he overuses digital synths (but hey! they were 80s so we can be thankful for him that he plays such "relics" as Hammond & mellotron at all!). If you really want to hear organ drenched music of Master Egawa please proceed to his later band called "Gerard". I can recommend this album to both: fans of melodic hard rock/heavy metal like Rainbow, Judas Priest, Deep Purple (80s), Dio and symphonic prog in Genesis/Yes tradition. If you like this band you should also look into such Japanese groups as: "Scheherazade"(also with Hisakatsu Igarashi, Toshio Egawa & Terutsugu Hirayama in line-up), Mugen, Teru's Symphonia (with Terutsugu Hirayama), Vienna, Magdalena, Fromage, Pageant, Shingetsu, Pale Acute Moon, Providence, Moondancer and Outer Limits. Similar style to Novela you can also find in first 3 albums of "Gerard" (later "Gerard" transformed to bombastic ELP-ish band which I love even more :-).In general this a good album for Japanese 80s prog-rock lovers who aren't afraid of slightly controversial-sounding Japanese vocals, sometimes ear blasting digital synthesizers and like Golden Age of prog influences here and there. But remember to start with their first album which is even better and focused more towards symphonic side of the prog.

Deserves 4 stars for me.

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |

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