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NOVELA

Symphonic Prog • Japan


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Novela biography
NOVELA is perhaps one of the most popular and pivotal rock bands in Japan. Between 1980 and 1987 they delivered many albums. The sound on the first records was 'heavy progressive', later NOVELA turned more into a harder-edged rock band. NOVELA featured two known 'progrock legends': keyboard virtuoso Toshio Egawa (later Gerard and Sheherazade) and multi-instrumentalist Terutsugu Hirayama (he founded TERU'S SYMPHONIA). The first four albums contain both short, more heavy up-tempo tracks as long, very symphonic compositions with lush keyboards (many majestic Mellotron waves!). In 1993 Nexus Classics (KICS2511) released the compilation CD entitled "Symphonic World", this album includes all their 'epic' Mellotron drenched songs along a few shorter tracks. Start with "La Songerie", this one contains two wonderful, very long compositions featuring great Mellotron from Toshio Egawa!


Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
NOVELA was a very popular and pivotal band in Japan and they delivered two outstanding progrock musicians: keyboard virtuoso Toshio Egawa (later Gerard and Sheherazade) and multi-instrumentalist Terutsugu Hirayama (he founded Teru's Symphonia). The first albums from NOVELA contain wonderful work on the Mellotron.


Discography:

La Songerie (1980)
Requiem (1981)
Paradise Lost (1981)
Sanctuary (1983)
Harmagedon Story (1983)
From The Mystic World (1984)
Harmagedon Story Part II (1984)
Brain Of Balance (1985)
The Words (1986)
Symphonic World - compilation (1993)

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Buy NOVELA Music


SanctuarySanctuary
Import
Spalax 2002
Audio CD$21.08
$11.98 (used)
ORIGINAL MEMBERS 25TH ANNIVERSARY BEST(CD+DVD)ORIGINAL MEMBERS 25TH ANNIVERSARY BEST(CD+DVD)
VICTOR JAPAN
Audio CD$92.59 (used)
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NOVELA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NOVELA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 15 ratings
La Songerie
1980
3.50 | 10 ratings
In The Night
1980
3.02 | 6 ratings
Paradise Lost
1981
3.66 | 7 ratings
Sanctuary
1983
3.09 | 4 ratings
Harmagedon Story
1983
2.45 | 5 ratings
Harmagedon Story Part II
1984
1.25 | 5 ratings
Brain Of Balance
1986
1.17 | 4 ratings
The Words
1986

NOVELA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
From The Mystic World
1984

NOVELA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NOVELA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Secret Takes
1993
3.09 | 3 ratings
Symphonic World
1993
3.00 | 1 ratings
25th Anniversary Best
2005

NOVELA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Requiem
1981

NOVELA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Paradise Lost by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.02 | 6 ratings

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Paradise Lost
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars King Records supported the next work of Novela by releasing an EP containing ''Requiem'', a brand new Symphonic Rock composition.The same track, divided in three parts, would appear a few months later on Novela's third effort ''Paradise lost''.The album was released following the announcement of the departure of bassist Yoshiro Takahashi, who went on to form the Hard Rock band Action!.He would take also guitarist Mototsugu Yamane with him.

Energetic and bombastic Hard Prog was again Novela's proposal and the first few tracks are delivered in short forms of fast-paced Hard Rock with driving guitars and lots of keyboards, featuring complex breaks, high-pitched vocals and powerful rhythmic parts.The sound is mainly based on the angular electric guitars, the few organ waves and the use of synthesizers, which offer a nice pompous edge to the music despite their rather synthetic sound.By the middle the music becomes more complicated and progressive with ''Ruins'' being a nice example of Hard and Orchestral Rock with E.L.P.-like keyboard acrobatics, atmospheric Classical breaks and mascular riffs.The centepiece of ''Paradise lost'' though is the 3-part, 15-min. long ''Requiem'', another strong Symphonic Rock piece in Novela's list of epic compositions.A gentle GENESIS-like intro with a poetic mood will leave its place to the bombastic execution of Egawa on synths and Mellotron, while the second, all instrumental part is a big surprise, sounding somewhere between KAIPA and FOCUS, featuring crying guitar solos, powerful orchestral Mellotron strings and a heavy rhythm section.Third and shortest part is close to the sound of LE ORME and THE NICE with a romantic, Baroque-inspired organ performance by Egawa.The last and propably the best Novela epic composition.The next few tracks show the band returning to its Hard Rock/Proto-Metal roots, showered by lots of symphonic keyboard work, bursting tons of energy through the raw vocals, virtuosic guitar moves and punchy synthesizers.

While ''Paradise lost'' contains maybe the least progressive Novela material to date, ''Requiem'' is possibly one of the best Symphonic Rock pieces created by a Japanese band in the 80's.Recommended for this magnificent track and the high level of energy of the group in the rest of the album.

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 La Songerie by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.60 | 15 ratings

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La Songerie
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars The debut album for Japanese symphonic progressive band `Le Songerie' is a fascinating mix of punchy, heavy-rocking numbers with grandiose symphonic prog. Novela crosses the 70's hard rock of the Paul Dianno-led Iron Maiden albums, the deeply spacey synthesizers of the so-called `metal' period of late 70's/early 80's Eloy with the regal Mellotrons of Genesis, and even a touch of sweeping Renaissance-like grandness and lush sophistication - the talented musicians clearly soaked up a wide collection of 70's heavy metal and proper progressive music influences. On first listen, the album seems dominated with stomping rockers, and vocalist Hisakatsu Igarashi oftens employs a wailing high-pitched shriek, but the more adventurous and daring material emerges closer to the second half that makes everything so much more special.

Opener `Illusion' is a bashing uptempo and catchy heavy stomper that, despite the glossy keyboards over the top, wouldn't have sounded out of place on Iron Maiden's `Killers', with only a fleeting synth passage near the end to offer a glimpse of prog. More grooving 70's flavoured metal for `Night With No Name' with some gorgeous chugging bass, while despite `Unbelieving Words' being a bit closer to actual prog, it's really a perky poppy number. The 11-minute `Letticia' is where things start to get really interesting. Full of lengthy instrumental sections over a variety of tempo changes, the endless washes of synths, ethereal female voices and some dazzling Frank Bornermann-styled electric guitar soloing recall the `lost-in-space' atmospherics of 80's Eloy. The commanding, driving drumming and pulsing bass also brings to mind Rush, Hisakatsu's vocals taking on an unearthly and unhinged menace here.

Opening with a graceful and dignified Mellotron introduction that recalls German proggers Epidaurus mixed with Novalis, the powerful and dramatic two-parter `The Boyhood/The Cliff' sounds a little like the slow-build of Iron Maiden's `Strange World', but full of serene and blissful floating synths. The grooving second half is a frantic and uptempo rocker with some very snappy drumming and nimble bass playing. The 14 minute title track is also full of the soaring Mellotron majesty of Novalis' classic `Sommerabend'. With a lovely matching vocal and piano melody in the verses that drifts very close to Renaissance's `Ocean Gypsy', crying electric guitar that calls from the distance, even Hisakatsu restrains his voice for a very touching and heartfelt performance full of wistful longing. Lovely classical acoustic passages, crystalline electric piano, scratchy Mellotron and group choir harmonies showcase the band playing with great subtlety not displayed on much of the rest of the album.

`La Songerie' won't win you over right away, but patient listeners will be rewarded with a strong release if they take the time to discover all those wonderful symphonic pieces a few tracks in. The band shows supreme taste and an unpredictable energy, and I plan on looking into more albums from the band in the near future. As I own the most recent Mini LP reissue, I also envy owners of the original vinyl, what sublime cover artwork to treasure!

Three and a half stars.

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 In The Night by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.50 | 10 ratings

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In The Night
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars One word could describe Novela's early years and this is fertility.Shortly after ''La songerie'' was released the Japanese sextet returned with a second offering under the title ''In the night''.The album was published on the prog-specialized Nexus Records, a sublabel of King Records.

More or less, the album follows the structure of Novela's debut, four short Hard Rock tracks appear on the first side of the LP and a long progressive composition dominates the second side (along with a shorter tune).So the opening side is captured by compositions having an evident Hard Rock/Proto-Metal style, characterized by sharp guitar riffs and solos and massive keyboard runs, but the overall approach remains quite artistic, especially due to Egawa's talent.Despite the accesibility of the tracks the listener will also face the flashy synthesizers (with a strong Neo Prog flavor), symphonic organs and delicate pianos of Egawa, adding to the whole atmosphere a proggy vibe.However the Japanese vocals of Igarashi Hisakatsu remain hillarious.The flipside is highlighted by the 17-min. long ''Reminiscence'', a Symphonic/Art Rock composition, where Egawa has eventually plenty of space to deliver his more progressive tendencies.Bombastic keyboards parts, sweet Classical-inspired interludes and grandiose electronics are in the menu in a very nice composition with a superb atmosphere at moments.The sporadic appearances of the heavy guitars remind the listener of Novela's main style, but the arrangement is far from anything close to Hard Rock, this is pure Symphonic Rock, though the 80's-sounding keyboards sometimes absorb part of ''Reminiscence's'' grandiosity.

Another good album by Novela, which will appeal to fans of Hard/Symphonic Rock.The sidelong track alone is a good reason to purchase the album.Recommended overall.

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 Harmagedon Story Part II by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.45 | 5 ratings

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Harmagedon Story Part II
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by maryes

3 stars After hearing several albuns from Japanese band NOVELA such as La Songerie (1980), Sanctuary (1983 ), Harmagedon Story I (1983)... this Harmagedon Story II (1984) is that sounds more pleasant to me. Maybe, due the fact which this albun is that shows a sound more close of the sonority from TERU'S SYMPHONIA albuns, as for instance "Egg the Universe" & "Human Race Party" and especially to another release from Terutsugu Hyraiama entittled "Noi No Shiro" or "Castle of Noi" (Record Label : Crime records Catalogue # : K32Y 2136) 1983 (albun with the collaboration from Ryuichi Nishida - Drums & Ryuji Sasai - Bass Guitar, both in the line up from Harmagedom Stoty II). The albun in itself have much from symphonic prog style like in the track 1 "Tabibito Sinwa" with the "sumptuous" keyboards from Toshio Egawa and the drums and bass guitar reminds me RENAISSANCE. The track 4 " Kokoro Suma[&*!#]e" is another music with the same RENAISSANCE "flavor", except for the intermissions from Terutsugu's soft guitar , but, however is "filled" by another styles of progressive rock, like hard-prog in the track 2 "Kioku no Kanatani" and in the track 5 "Senshi no rarabai", jazz prog in the track 3 "Ankoku No Majyo" with a good percussion job, the "musical box" or "merry-go-round" melody from the track 8 "Unmei no kumari", the march theme in the track 9 "Seishin Ryokou" and the sweet symphonic-ballad in the track 10 " Neguriai Again ". In a overall view the albun is very well balanced, without great exuberant moments, but also without weak or boring themes. My rate is 3 stars !!!

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 La Songerie by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.60 | 15 ratings

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La Songerie
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I will admit that this album took me a bit by surprise. I suppose that since really the only Japanese prog music I had listened to before this was zeuhl bands like Koenjihyakkei and Ruins, I was expecting something a bit weirder. I was surprised in a good way, though, as this is a very solid symphonic/hard rock release, especially considering it came out in 1980.

"Illusion," the album's opener, begins with a fairly slow choral section that quickly transitions into a fairly standard hard rock number. The high pitched vocals soon kick in, and barring a brief section in the middle with some synth there's nothing out of the ordinary for a 1980 hard rock song. "Night WIth No Name" is much in the same style, highly reminiscent of a slew of late 70s/early 80s rock bands without ripping any of them off. "Unbelievable Words," has a slightly different sound to it, and, despite being the shortest song is probably the proggiest of these first three, with a totally different sounding bridge that somehow manages to not feel out of place. The vocals are a bit grating at times, though, especially the really high notes.

As soon as song 4, "Letticia" begins, the album really shifts into full on prog mode. We get a bombastic instrumental intro before the song falls away to just piano and voice. The song naturally builds up again from there, and there's some nice Genesis-esque organ along the way, though it's used sparingly. Really a great song. "The Boyhood-The Cliff" is another great prog track, with an instrumental intro that lasts longer than the entirety of "Unbelievable Words." It starts off with a fairly peaceful, pastoral sounding bass and synth intro, but at about five minutes in transitions to another uptempo, harder edged song. "La Songerie" starts out sounding quite a bit like "The Court of the Crimson King," but rest assured this is no rip-off. This intro transitions into an absolutely beautiful vocal section, which slows down before hitting us with the opening melody again. The song goes through more twists and turns from there, including what sounds like a harpsichord solo at one point. Other reviewers have said that this is the best song on the album and I think I have to agree.

Overall, this is an album that definitely wears a lot of influences on its sleeve, but it's very good regardless. At times the vocals sound a bit strained, but there's certainly nothing cringeworthy here in that regard. A nice blend of hard rock and symphonic prog that makes for a very good listening experience.

4/5

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 La Songerie by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.60 | 15 ratings

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La Songerie
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

5 stars "La Songerie" (also known as "Miwakugeki") is the first album of very prominent Japanese prog rock band Novela and it's also definitely their best one. Compared with its successors this record presents the most symphonic side of the group so classical music influences are very audible here. We can't also forget that's the very first album featuring phenomenal keyboardist Toshio Egawa, which later became first class star in Gerard formation. It's really a miracle that so young musician could already made so big impact on this material. In fact it's the most "Egawa-driven" release from the whole Novel's discography! Maybe he doesn't presents so many flashy organ runs (from which he became famous in the future) here, but his mellotron, piano and especially synthesizers (digital & analog) skills are extremely evident all over the place. Guitar presence of Hirayama & Yamane is also very good.

Let's describe album's songs:

1. "Illusion" - 1st Novela's album id divided into 2 parts. At first we can listen to 3 heavy-prog/hard rock tracks and after that 3 truly symphonic prog suites. First harder edged song in the set-list is "Illusion". Unfortunately it wasn't a good choice to place this one in the beginning of the record. It's a decent hard rock tune clearly influenced by such UK bands as Uriah Heep. Rainbow or Deep Purple but somehow more pop-sounding. It's rather guitar-driven song but Egawa plays some nice synths and organ rides in the background. Not bad at all, but later will be much better. P.S. Good, metallic guitar solo included.

2. "Night With No Name" - fantastic heavy prog track with more sinister, aggressive atmosphere than "Illusion". Fantastic thundering double guitar & bass attack! Keyboards mostly not audible here but in the middle Egawa wakes up and plays great interlude solos together with guitarists. Truly rockin' synthesizer sound! Igarashi's vocal delivery is excellent too!

3. "Unbelieving Words" - the shortest track on "La Songerie" is much better than its length would suggest. Really nice hard rocker based on Hammond/guitar leads and Igarashi's vocals (including some typical for him high-pitched shrieks :-). Very enjoyable.

4. "Letticia" - for ultimate progheads this is a point where this album really begins - first epic of the album. Really splendid piece of symphonic prog dominated by Egawa's various synthesizers & piano work. You can listen also lots of inspired guitar solos and - what's very important - few mellotron moments! We can't also forget about Igarashi, who sings in a very melodic way with true passion and sense of melody. It can be easily compared with Genesis and Yes recordings.

5. "The Boyhood - The Cliff" - it's the shortest epic track, but it's still more than 9 minutes long so you can expect full blown prog rock. At first mood of this suite is very laid-back and atmospheric with Gilmour influenced guitar weeps and Bardens-like synthesizers. However in the middle tempo suddenly changes into organ & guitar driven, fast-tempo rocker full of "AAAAAA" harmonized vocals in the vain of Uriah Heep in their golden years. Kudos to Egawa for his blistering, 70's sounding Hammond organ solo! As you see you can hear many different influences here, but they are far away from ripping-off. I can assure you about it.

6. "La songerie" - it's definitely my favorite composition of Novela. It's rather slow tempo epic with extremely beautiful mellotron eruptions and acoustic guitar passages. We can clearly see Egawa's melancholic side during his classical sounding Grand piano play which almost dominate the suite. and the most important: melodies are gorgeous and Igarashi's delicate voice fits perfect here! I especially love this long instrumental fragment which started with acoustic guitar passages over charming glockenspiel sounds, followed by brief Baroque-like harpsichord (clavinet?) solo, then jazzy piano section and with flute-like mellotron sounds and finally nostalgic acoustic guitar solo spot (a la Steve Howe). Sheer beauty! Last 4 minutes are also brilliant. All of these "AAAA" harmony vocals, "fanfare" keyboards, catharsis-inducting guitar solos and overall dramatic tension atmosphere which culminates in eruption of mellotron created (thrilling sounding!) choruses. Goose bumps!

+ Bonus:

7. "Shoot a burning arrow" - bonus track included on most of CD issues of "La Songerie" isn't as good as the main album. It's just decent hard rock track with constant guitar bashing and cocky screams plus Wakemanish Moog solo. Similar to first 3 songs of "La Songerie" but weaker. But as a bonus it won't count to my overall rating.

In general I have to admit that "La Songerie" is a damn fantastic piece of art which every progressive rock lover should know. Its diversity is very obvious: 3 heavy prog songs (with sometimes slight pop influences) and 3 long symphonic rock suites which create perfect album altogether. This album should be equally regarded as Japanese prog masterpiece together with such records as Cosmos Factory "An Old Castle of Transylvania", Food Brain "Bansan (aka Social Gathering)", Shingetsu "Shingetsu" or Hiro Yanagida "Milt Time".

If you want to check only one Novela's album, let it be this one, but in fact whole discography of this band which featuring Toshio Egawa (1980-1984 period) is worth your time (and don't forget about Scheherazade's self-titled album with the same vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist, so it can be almost treated as another Novela's record)

Music on "La Songerie" reminds me such classic 70's bands as Genesis (mainly), Camel, Yes, Uriah Heep, Rainbow and even Queen.

If you like Japanese symphonic prog in the vain of Novela you can also check bands which were clearly influenced by them: Teru's Symphonia, Gerard, Vienna, Mugen, Magdalena, Pale Acute Moon, Providence, Pageant and Outer Limits.

My rating for Novela's debut: 5 stars (maybe more like 4,7 than full blown 5, but...)

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 The Words by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1986
1.17 | 4 ratings

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The Words
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

1 stars I really don't know why after disastrous previous record, Novela came back to studio to create another dreadful turkey with more synth-pop crap but this time mixed with some small dozens of progressive rock influences. They wanted to completely destroy their reputation or what?!

Anyway "The Words" is 8th and - fortunately - the last studio album of this formation (and second recorded without two key members: Toshio Egawa and Hisakatsu Igarashi). It includes 10 usually deadly bad songs:

1. "My Love in You" - horrible pop dud with ear shattering synthesizers noises, monotonous drums and repetitive keyboard "riff".

2. "Began the Day for End" - another synth-pop song this time a bit slower so maybe more bearable. Boring and uninspired at all. And Youshi Okamoto's keyboards sound horrendous as usual...

3. "Katamuku Hizashi Ni" - poppy ballad but with some not-so-bad almost-symphonic synthesizer "atmospheric" solos in the middle. Passable but surely not flawless. Too "sweet" to be called true prog-rock composition.

4. "Gloomy Pain" - another synth-pop horror but with 2 redeeming factors: nice organ imitation played by Okamoto and some synth solos in the middle. Seems Novela started to miss their past prog-rock glory but was unable to resurrect such kind of music within current synth-pop formula.

5. "The Words" - the best song on "The Words" which includes more elaborated instrumental parts. In the middle very good, almost romantic piano solos. Unfortunately repetitive drum-machine beat almost destroys the whole atmosphere. Nice try but can't be compared with early material of this band.

6. "Goylegar" - instrumental track with some rather good guitar lead and rather pleasant keyboards parts. Unfortunately repetitive drum-machine and one synth gimmick which just can't stop through the whole composition spoil any fun.

7. "Reverie" - just another synth-pop track. Not more - not less.

8. "Labyrinth" - along with "The Words" this is the most prog track on the album. However it's still more pop-rock/AOR than "real thing". Some guitar and synth solos, some very corny radio/TV voices mixed with annoying noises in the middle and ballad-style vocal sections. Passable bot not brilliant.

9. "Out of Labyrinth" - short instrumental at first based on toy-piano like keyboard and later on atmospheric synthesizer waves.

10. "Going to the Kingdom" - another not really successful combination of pop and neo-prog. Lots of synths, generic guitar riffs and lifeless drum hits. Near the end included very corny sounding "Going to the Kingdom" phrase which is repeated again and again.

To sum up: last Novela's recording contains mainly synth-pop songs with horribly repetitive percussion and cheesy-sounding electronic keyboards. However I have to admit that compared with "Brain of Balance" record it's slightly better because after all we can listen to several prog-rock influenced moments here, while previous album was complete waste of time and patience. Anyway it doesn't change a thing that "The Words" is a truly bad release which can't be recommend to anybody. "Brain of Balanced" deserved zero stars, bit "The Words" can get 1,5 from me. Why not? I'm really generous today :-). But you have to keep in mind that this album is better then preceding one, just like cholera is better than syphilis, which means not much better... So just stick to 1980-1984 period albums if you like this band.

As I said - 1,5 star for "The Words" from ozzy_tom.

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 Brain Of Balance by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1986
1.25 | 5 ratings

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Brain Of Balance
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

1 stars After very uneven "Harmagedon Story - Part 2" Novela should disappear because lack of ideas was obvious then. Unfortunately it didn't happen and they decided to record another two, horribly disgusting albums. "Brain Of Balance" is the first one and "The Words" the second one. Both present the same synth-pop crap with pitiful, plastic sounding keyboards, electronic percussion and bland melodies.

In fact these albums shouldn't be recorded under Novela moniker for me 'cos two leaders Toshio Egawa (keyboardist) and Hisakatsu Igarashi (vocalist) aren't presented there anymore, so the only original member who left in the band is Terutsugu Hirayama! I'd like to stress that I was mistaken by new vocalist's voice and I thought it's still Igarashi singing here. So I wrongly accused Igarashi for destroying the band during "Harmagedon Story - Part 2" review. I apologize to him now (I already changed my previous review with this incorrect information. I don't know how I've never noticed that Igarshi isn't credited on these two albums, so sorry guy...) 'cos I see that Hirayama is the person who should be blamed for changing one of the best Japanese progressive rock group into miserable synth-pop outfit. I hope he still has guilty nightmares after committing this crime!

"Brain of Balance" is absolutely bad album which has no musical connections with previous Novela's progressive/hard rock outputs and it's a torture to listen to it, but for you readers, I'll give it another spin to describe its songs one by one as good as I can.

1. "Brain of Balance" - welcome into the hell of synth-pop! New vocalist Miyamoto really sounds like Igarashi, but without all of these quasi-operatic screams and other funny elements (in fact around this time Igarshi also recorded synth-pop album called "Puzzle" which is still much better than this crap). Lifeless metronome-like drums, repetitive guitar chords and total onslaught of shoddy digital synths. In the end vocalist repeat the same few words again and again, forever... Skip this trash as fast as possible.

2. "Wandering" - this song starts not so bad with some string-synthesizers in the vain of Egawa's work however soon after this introduction boring synth-pop begin again. But it's still the best song on this album thanks to middle section where Youshi Okamoto plays some delightful acoustic piano passages. It would be great if he used such analog gear more often. Anyway after this short relief band comes back to generic synth-pop when this solo is over. You can easily forward to this piano solo and later skip the song.

3. "Eternal Love" - very soft ballad with acoustic piano (thank you Okamoto that you don't torture us with your tiny sounding synths again here!) and no drums (better no drums than this monotonous beat from previous tracks). Not interesting song but gives us some relax between these awful synth-pop abominations. However you can skip this one too.

4. "Alfa City" - horrible pop once again if dumb sounding refrain. Short synth/guitar solos in the middle which try to remind us that Novela was prog-rock outfit in the past. But metronome-drum beat shows us that they are clearly only synth-pop now. Skip.

5. "Nevermore" - another synth-pop song with nothing interesting at all. And you can whaling your guitar as much as you want Hirayama but we still know that's still just as pop song... Skip this crap.

6. "Dancin' the Moonlight Night" - what a catchy title! Unfortunately it has nothing to do with magnificent Genesis' staff 'cos it's just another ultra bad schlock pop. And how I hate middle section with these ear-crushing noises! (BTW Okamoto tries to recreate some old glory of Novela using some not-too-audible Hammond organ tones, nice try but he surely failed). Please skip.

7. "Graffiti Light" - oh no no, another synth-pop nightmare with this toy keyboard-like gear and disco-like "full happiness" approach. Ugly. Skip it.

8. "Paper Music" - the same like above but even worse. And this - God forbid - "Hello, hello we sing!" / "Goodbye, Goodbye my love" refrain, and this chirruping keyboard sounds... Help me! SKIP!

9. "After Your Call" - again quasi-Novela proves us that they can play essentially ugly pop if they really want to. All the minuses from previous songs are also here so no need to add anything. Just skip.

10. "Temptation of Time" - just like all the album this is another offensive (for ambitious listener) piece of pop trash with mechanical keyboards and boring drum beat. Just skip that one.

...and you just skipped everything? That's right, 'cos there's nothing interesting to listen to on "Brain of Balance". Only more than 40 minutes of elevator music. And believe me that I really can appreciate good pop like 80's Genesis or Yes output, and I even like ELP's "Love Beach" album quite much. But music of this reincarnation of Novela is not only pop but ear blasting synth-pop abomination for immature teens. For their own good Novela members should buy all CD copies & master tapes and throw them to the gutter, because it's the only place where they belong. And I consider myself as a fan of this band which was so inventive in the past to came up with such fantastic progressive rock albums like "La Songerie", "In The Night" or "Sanctuary". And I wouldn't be so angry on poor old chap Terutsugu Hirayama, if he just recorded this crap, took his "dirty money" and call it a day. But no, he decided to go on and (quasi)Novela recorded another album with very similar bunch of synth-pop duds called "The Words". Thank God this time it was the last studio recording released under Novela moniker and nobody "desecrated" this name anymore after that.

In general no progressive rock, no hard rock, no decent pop, only cheesy, disgusting synth-pop turkey. It's a pity that I can't give it less than 0,5 star. It deserves ZERO stars!

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 Harmagedon Story Part II by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.45 | 5 ratings

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Harmagedon Story Part II
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Something just went wrong when they were recording their 6th album. To be honest lots of things went wrong on "Harmagedon Story - Part2"! Previous volume of this 2 albums concept was already slightly weak compared with Novela's classic recordings but this one is just a huge misstep. Almost all of the songs are very short (only one reaches 6th minute and it's one of the worst tracks here!) and they are too often pop influenced, also Egawa's keyboard gear usually sounds like some digital, 80s plastic rubbish here (it seems only one composition feature any Hammond!). It's obvious that keyboardist had his bags already packed and his mind was occupied by thinking about his new project - Gerard. Another important factor of "Harmagedon Story - Part2" is that lots of tracks here are instrumentals. Of course it's not a bad thing per se (I love Egawa's instrumentals!) but for me it's obvious evident that keyboard player and vocalist started to have completely different vision of the band and they didn't want to co-operate anymore like they did in the past. So they "split" album for pop/teen's hard rock vocal-oriented songs (quite often sung by this anonymous female vocalist also who was also present in previous album) and rather unimaginative instrumental prog-rock compositions. History showed us that Hisakatsu Igarashi left the band after recording session for this album and started his solo synth-pop career (later, in 90s he also joined neo-prog band Millplat to record one album), while Toshio Egawa left Novela to create symphonic rock group Gerard, where he presented his full keyboards abilities.

And now it's time to look closely into album's tracks:

1. "Tabibito Sinwa" - album starts with instrumental track. First minute is a dull electronic music which sound like some Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze tiny synth noodling. After that it's a bit better 'cos drummer begin to play some beat (which probably was intended to sound "monumental") and Egawa use some not so bad string-synthesizer. In the end electronic boredom comes back. In general poor background music.

2. "Kioku no Kanatani" - it's a decent pop-rock song with Igarashi on vocal duties. It's quite catchy and features fine rhythmic guitar tones. Probably it's one of only few songs you'll remember after the album will be finished, but it's still only so-so composition. The best part is synth and guitar solo in the middle which reminds us how good instrumentalists are Egawa & Hirayama.

3. "Ankoku No Majyo" - it's surely the most "prog" track on "Harmagedon Story - Part2". Does it mean the best one? Unfortunately not at all. I think that these guys just thought that they include so many generic pop songs on this album so they also have to show that after all they are progressive rock outfit. And they showed...that they no longer can compose decent instrumental. Seems that Novela tried to sound so much ambitious here that after all "Ankoku No Majyo" sounds like annoying, avantgarde crap without any melodies, memorable soloing and sense at all. You'd feel happy when this quasi-composition will be over...

4. "Kokoro Suma[&*!#]e" - ...unfortunately your peace will be in interrupted by this awfully sweet pop dud. I don't know who can be a direct audience for an album where after ultra-avantgarde strangeness listener is exposed on dull pop number?! Complete in-consistence! Anyway it's piano, bad sounding synth & "dreamy" guitar led "sweet" pop song which is sung by female vocalist (even no drums here). Nothing is interesting for prog-rock fan here. Better skip.

5. "Senshi no rarabai" - this one starts with some plastic, digital synthesizer tones but after awhile turns into the best song of this album. In fact it's only fast teenage audience targeted hard rocker with some short but nice metallic guitar solo, but I really like its catchy rhythm and background Hammond runs (the last occasion to listen to organ on Novela's album!). Not a classic but would easily fit on previous Novela's albums.

6. "Shichiji no Kane" - this one is surely the best instrumental included on "Harmagedon Story - Part2". It's completely dominated by various Egawa's keyboards and sounds very symphonic. My favorite is middle section with pompous horn/trumpet-like synthesizer.

7. "Utaka no Yume" - Oh man, this is just horribly disgusting one! I've never heart such awful song on genuine progressive rock album. It's just 2:35 minutes long sheer horror of over-sweet, dull, lackluster Japanese pop with female vocalist which try to sound as 10 years old kid. Avoid as a plague and program your CD player/mp3 player to skip it or you'll think that this crap came from some other band and you just had playback error... It's really so bad.

8. "Unmei no kumari" - after abomination of "Utaka no Yume" comes better track called "Unmei no kumari". It's slow but kinda atmospheric symphonic prog rock instrumental piece which begin with nice flute (probably synth-made) and acoustic guitar and later turns into short but full blown pompous section with "fanfare" keyboards and some piano.

9. "Seishin Ryokou" - until 1:40 minute it sounds like perfect progressive rock track with march like drum beat and pompous piano/synth ride. Unfortunately middle part is occupied by awful synth-pop vocal part with extremely annoying, repetitive percussion. Did they replaced Ryuichi Nishida for electronic drums machine here or what? Thankfully last minute of the song brings back this phenomenal symphonic motif from the beginning.

10. "Neguriai Again" - it's another pop song but unlikely "Kokoro Suma[&*!#]e" & vomit-inducting "Utaka no Yume" we can listen to some drums work here. This one is driven by duo of Igarashi's and female vocalist's voices and some naive, basic piano lines. For sure along with "Mugen-Densetsu" from "Harmagedon Story - Part 1", this is another example how progressive rock album should never be finished with.

"Harmagedon Story - Part2" is a rather weak album but about 50% of it is still prog-rock. So it's a big plus, compared with 2 awful records which were released after this one. It's just a mixed bag of some rather good prog tunes, very boring prog tunes, generic pop songs and accessible hard rock tracks. Nothing really stands out here and we can find much better material on Novela's albums from 1980-1984 period. That's why I recommend it only to Novela's and Toshio Egawa's collectors, but bear in mind that's the worst album in which this fantastic keyboardist was ever involved. Also if you're very tolerant keyboard-led prog-rock lover who doesn't care that he has to pick up gems hidden between crap, try this one and maybe you'll like it more than I do. Besides, even the worst recording featuring magician Egawa can't be totally shoddy, am I right?

I wanted to give 2 stars for this album, but I can add another 0,5 point after all. So 2,5 stars from me.

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 Harmagedon Story by NOVELA album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.09 | 4 ratings

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Harmagedon Story
Novela Symphonic Prog

Review by 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 So[&*!#]e Saisyusenso" - near the end of the album Novela decided to present as 2 longer (6+ minutes) songs. First one called "Shirase So[&*!#]e 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 So[&*!#]e 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.

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