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Novela - Harmagedon Story CD (album) cover

HARMAGEDON STORY

Novela

 

Symphonic Prog

3.09 | 4 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Novela's 5th album - called "Harmagedon Story - Part 1" - is quite a letdown compared to very good "Sanctuary" which was recorded the same year. Most of the songs are very short (usually 2-4 minutes) and uneven. This time there were no line-up changes but unfortunately Novela started to change their trademark style to more "accessible", pop-sounding one. Don't get me wrong, this is still mainly progressive rock album dominated by Egawa's keyboard work however compositions sound less inventive and energetic than in the past. But true horror of synth-pop was hiding just behind a corner and you can feel it here.(I'm thinking about such mix bag as "Harmagedon Story - Part 2" and especially sheer horror of such records as "The Words" & "Brain Of Balance"). I can also add that "Harmagedon Story" is supposed to be concept-album (2 albums in fact) based on some manga (comic? cartoon? both?). However I can't verify it 'cos I don't understand Japanese at all...and I don't care too much to be honest (I don't like manga...).

Let's review these songs one by one and see what we got here:

1. "Kaze No Mokushiroku" - not a real song, just 2 minutes of wind effects and female "angelic" voice. Rather boring opening. Thankfully only 1:40 minute long.

2. "Tabidachi (Dream trip)" - it's a mid-tempo rocker which starts with awful sounding 80s digital synthesizer motif (and this motif will also comes back from time to time later...). Thankfully during the entire song Egawa relies more on his trustful Hammond than this Casio-sounding abomination. Igarashi sings OK here, but his voice is very restricted (no high-pitched quasi-operatic screams). Some nice, hard rock guitar solo in the middle. Not so bad but I've heard many better mid-tempo rockers recorded by Novela in the past, so it can't really impress me.

3. "Yukyu No Inochi" - very slow & calm piece of music loaded with mellow female voice. Anyway here rise the question: who is this woman? I think it's quite important question 'cos from this album she became very important factor of Novela's new approach to their music. Anyway I don't like this idea at all! Igarashi's vocals is the only vocal I want to hear in Novela's albums! In general this "song" sounds like Mike Oldfield's throwaway track...

4. "Kuon No Isyuwara" - seems that Ryuichi Nishida went out during recording of "Yukyu No Inochi" and didn't came back yet, 'cos it's another track without any drums. "Kuon No Isyuwara" is a very mellow ballad based on piano motif and some dreamy synthesizers. It has romantic feeling of some older Novela's ballads but it's not as catchy as them. Just okayish track.

5. "Harukana-Toki No Hate Ni" - finally some really good track full of hot organ runs and guitar riffs. Very enjoyable hard rocker, where Igarashi can show his full capacities in his trademark goofy/cheesy sounding howls :-). The only minus is this horrible techno/disco like drums beat in the beginning and the end of the song, the rest is really fine.

6. "Fuyutoshi Nishi No.22" - it's the first instrumental ever recorded by Novela! And it's also my favorite track on this "Harmagedon Story - Part 1". It's not very powerful track but it still holds some resemblance to next Egawa's band - "Gerard", where he recorded more of such staff (and even better to be honest). "Fuyutoshi Nishi No.22" is completely dominated by his keyboards magic (synthesizers and nice Hammond "bridge" in the middle).

7. "Tabi" - it's another very soft ballad with atmospheric sounding Igarashi's voice (seems he started to prefer such style of singing from this album). Music is based on very simplistic piano, tabla and drum beats. However I like moody guitar melody in this one.

8. "Soma No Senshi" - it's another instrumental composition which sound even more like future "Gerard" staff (although no Hammond this time). Synths/guitar interludes are really energetic here. I like this one quite much and I definitely recommend it. It's a pity that just as most of the tracks here, it's very short.

9."Shirase Soshite Saisyusenso" - near the end of the album Novela decided to present as 2 longer (6+ minutes) songs. First one called "Shirase Soshite Saisyusenso" is definitely the winner. Fantastic song with unexpected tempo & signature changes, passionate & (sometimes) hysteric vocals, few swirling organ moments, analog sounding synths and metallic guitars. I love Moog (real?) synthesizer solo there!

10. "Mugen-Densetsu" - it's the longest composition in the album, and surprisingly the worst one! Can anybody tell me why Novela decided that's a great idea to finish prog-rock album with extremely cheesy sounding pop-song full of delicate, generic piano lines and horns-like synthesizers?! But the worst from all is that lead vocalist here is this unknown woman we've been already listening to in "Kaze No Mokushiroku" & "Yukyu No Inochi". Song is very "sweet" and sound like your average Japanese pop. OK, I can admit that the melody is even quite catchy and memorable, there is even some fine guitar solo and background organ runs in the second part of the composition, but it's just not a song I'd expect to listen on symphonic rock album! But still it isn't so bad compared to horrifying pop-songs from next releases.

In general it's not an album you should avoid and run away every time you see its (terrible to be honest...) covert art. It's just slightly below average progressive rock record of band who's during transition phrase and isn't sure whether to play energetic symphonic rock ("Fuyutoshi Nishi No.22", "Soma No Senshi", "Shirase Soshite Saisyusenso"), hard rock ("Tabidachi (Dream trip)", "Harukana-Toki No Hate Ni") or maybe generic pop for teenagers ("Mugen-Densetsu"). Unfortunately their next album ("Harmagedon Story - Part 2") has shown that pop-influences started to dominate Novela's music, and next 2 albums - recorded without Egawa and Igarashi - were the proof that they finally chosen the wrong path of ugly-cheesy synth-pop. However "Harmagedon Story - Part 1" is still an enjoyable (however not flawless) record where we can still listen to plenty of analog-sounding keyboards, interesting guitar solos and good vocals. For hardcore prog-rock enthusiasts it's rather the last record from Novela to pick up, but for sure it's not essential like previous albums. It can be only compered to another so-so release from 1981 - "Paradise Lost".

I can give 3 stars.

ozzy_tom | 3/5 |

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