Novembre - Materia
Peaceville Records
Atmospheric Metal
11 songs (68'01")
Release year: 2006
Novembre, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Alex

It is always exciting to root for the underdog. Italians Novembre are a talented and underappreciated outfit you would want to root for, you would want for them to ultimately succeed. I have personally been a fan since little known 1994 debut Wish I Could Dream That Again on Polyphemous Records I proudly own. The band’s brand of atmospheric death metal has evolved since then, leaving the dabbling prog tendencies behind, introducing more distinct cutting melodies and growling vocals with Classica and Novembrine Waltz. As much good as Century Media had done for modern heavy metal, it always felt that Novembre was not the best fit on that label, they were an afterthought. 2002 re-recording of the debut album under the different name signaled the end of Novembre associations with Century Media. The world had to wait five years for the new full-length album to emerge, and only after the band made the move to Peaceville.

While being decidedly Novembre in terms of delivering beautiful and captivating music, Materia also strangely harkens the band back to their early days, especially vocally. The best songs on Materia, Verne and Aquamarine for example, are constructed of multiple flowing parts connected by mid-song acoustic breaks and overwhelming sense of melody. The latter is Novembre trademark, no song on Materia, or otherwise, was released to the world without it. It does not matter if it comes in the form of a Russian mime acoustic (Gepetto) or darker, doomier, despondent variety (title track). Novembre music is always natural and real, assembled from multiple layers of guitar driven intensity, rather than electronic gimmicks. Novembre on Materia is no standard melodic death riff-fest, nor are they gothic leaning or funeral doom. Melancholic minor melodies of the band are strangely uplifting, bathing your soul in them with multiple listens bringing the sense of peace and consolation.

Percussive, but not in articulate Katatonia sense, many songs on Materia are not simplistic in terms of rhythm. Drummer Guiseppe Orlando has a chance to shine on Jules exhibiting his complete arsenal of muscular double bass, super fast snare beat and cymbal crushing, while following the song’s growing melody. The only time the unwelcome dichotomy rises is when well-built rhythm section runs into dissonant, modern radio-like riffs (Memoria Stoica/Vetro). Another strange and unexpected moment happens when Comedia starts with a minute of insane blastbeat, only to assume the “regular” pace and style later.

Where I probably have the most problems with the album is in the vocal department. Guitarist and vocalist Carmelo Orlando referred back to the clean era vocals of Wish I Could Dream That Again, those slightly moany, slightly nasal clean vocals that in my modest opinion lack the passion to match the quiet intensity of the rest of Novembre music. Here is one case where more extreme growls would have fit better. When the vocal outbursts finally come through, as in Aquamarine, Croma and Nothijngrad, we have a liftoff to a totally new plane. Half of the album lyrics are in Italian, the most beautiful language on Earth to build songs around. Italian words, no matter the music style, always fit the music like a glove, no need to build special rhymes. The fact Italian lyrics come through very clearly on Materia creates a feel of authenticity, darker San Remo festival melodies finding their room in the metal genre.

I hope Peaceville Records find the way to give Novembre their due, and would not let them constantly play second fiddle to Katatonia and My Dying Bride. The underdog has to win someday.

Killing Songs :
Verne, Aquamarine, Jules, The Promise, Nothijngrad
Alex quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Novembre that we have reviewed:
Novembre - Classica reviewed by Milan and quoted 88 / 100
Novembre - The Blue reviewed by Joe and quoted 98 / 100
Novembre - Novembrine Waltz reviewed by Chris and quoted 87 / 100
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