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Novalis - Flossenengel CD (album) cover

FLOSSENENGEL

Novalis

 

Symphonic Prog

3.28 | 64 ratings

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Lewian
4 stars After two months listening up and down through Novalis's work, "Flossenengel" emerges as their strongest album, at least for me. Earlier, when reviewing "Clown" I still felt that I should split the price. Now, however, Flossenengel has several tunes spinning around in my head for weeks.

As a concept album, telling the story of some kind of cross between whale and fish being captured, held in a zoo, suffering, and freed by the fisher who initially caught it, it provides Novalis with a great opportunity to combine their tendency toward smaller and more transparent songs that begun with "Brandung" with a bigger overarching structure. Thinking bigger is a winner for the band here, because despite the fact that the different songs are written in a stand-alone fashion without recurring themes over the whole album (apart from some whale sounds in the beginning and end), the concept gives the album flow and cohesion. Throughout their career, the biggest strength of the band has always been the musicality and taste in their arrangements and the careful balance between slower and faster, calmer and louder, more cheerful and sadder parts, and this quality here stretches through the whole album, with a convincing mix of contrasts and changes on one hand and taking time to build up moods and atmospheres on the other hand. Further, the compositions are clearly inspired by how the story goes on, with nice musical interpretations of the limitless freedom in the water, the fight of the fisher with his catch, the beauty of the animal, the melancholy of being captured, a rather aggressive comment on how human beings treat animals in the zoo and so on. A more fitting way of telling this story in music is hard to imagine (which is another strength on many Novalis albums, albeit elsewhere on a lower scale).

Most of the album is on the melodic, soft side of prog, with occasional outbursts of singer Fred Muehlboeck, particularly in the more rocking "Sklavenzoo" and in the finale. Regarding emotions, the album is very versatile, as already pointed out; nice examples are the folk ballad "Flossenengel", "Alle wollen leben" in the style of the optimistic "Irgendwo Irgendwann" of "Brandung", the depressive "Im Netz" and the uplifting "Rueckkehr". The two instrumentals, Atlanto and Walzer fuer einen verlorenen Traum, are among the strongest of the band, combining catchy melodies with dynamic arrangements.

Again, as elsewhere in the band's catalog, there are good guitar and keyboard parts (particularly keyboarder Lutz Rahn is in very good form here; guitarist Job shows the melodic qualities well known from him), and singer Muehlboeck is at his most dynamic (although he somewhat exaggerates it at times). The rhythm section, to be honest, isn't the most exciting, though.

All in all I'd call this the quintessential Novalis album, showing all the strengths of the band embedded in a convincing concept. I give it a very strong 4 stars (some issues with the vocals, and the rather bland rhythm section keep it below 5 but still, listen to this!).

Lewian | 4/5 |

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