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Novembers Doom: Bled White

Chicago's purveyors of doom laden death metal, Novembers Doom, have been around now for 25 years...hard to believe actually, but the truth of the matter is this band has been one of the most consistent acts on the underground metal scene for MANY years, and it's high time that the masses discovered what this fine act is all about. Bled White is their latest release, and follows their 2011 crusher Apothic. Members Paul Kuhr (vocals), Larry Roberts (guitars), Vito Marchese (guitars), Mike Feldman (bass), and Garry Naples (drums) have created here an accessible album, but one that still contains all the heaviness and dark elements that fans have come to love about this band.

The title track kicks things off in typical Novembers Doom fashion, as raging guitar riffs pummel the listener while Kuhr mixes in his melancholy clean vocals and furious death metal growls. "Heartfelt" is a must hear for fans of My Dying Bride, a catchy slice of melodic, emotional death metal with some doom overtones, while "Just Breathe" slows things down to a crawl as gothic, lilting guitar patterns make you feel the anguish being projected by Kuhr's vocals. The lovely acoustic guitar work on "Scorpius" will remind some of Opeth, and the brutal, rampaging "Unrest" ups the ante as far as delivering crushing death metal. I like how the band continues to inject prog & folk elements into their music, as heard on "The Memory Room" and "Clear", which not only adds layers of dimension to their music but also an 'epic' nature that just makes these songs all the more exciting. "The Grand Circle" weaves and boils in such a fashion that it's impossible not to get sucked in by the power & majesty that the band has created, and "Animus" again touches on that Opeth feel by mixing crushing death metal with prog complexity, Kuhr's clean & growling vocals just superb in adding that extra special touch.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Novembers Doom have been around a long time, and if you haven't yet checked these guys out, you owe it to yourself to do so pronto. Bled White is another excellent release from this band, who just keep hitting one home run after another. If melodic, melancholy death metal mixed with doom, goth, prog, and folk sounds intriguing, then get your hands on this one.

Track Listing
01. Bled White
02. Heartfelt
03. Just Breathe
04. Scorpius
05. Unrest
06. The Memory Room
07. The Brave Pawn
08. Clear
09. The Grand Circle
10. Animus
11. The Silent Dark

Added: July 13th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3169
Language: english

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Novembers Doom: Bled White
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-07-13 09:40:36
My Score:

Whether you like them or not, Novembers Doom are one of the most consistent metal bands coming out of the USA. The beautifully titled Bled White marks their 25th year; they have consistently released album after album, rarely deviating from their core sound. Of course, they started out as a typical death metal act before finding their niche and releasing several doom-laden melodic death metal discs, of which The Knowing and The Pale Haunt Departure still remain personal favourites.

Over the years, however, Novembers Doom's music shifted towards a more direct style, dropping their doomy influences in favour of a more focused, mid-tempo death metal sound, particularly as vocalist Paul Kuhr improved his clean vocals dramatically. While the previous album Aphotic was more varied stylistically, utilizing vocals by both Anneke van Giersbergen and long-time producer/mixer Dan Swano, Bled White finds the Chicago band taking yet another step towards a more vocal-based sound. There is significant emphasis placed on Kuhr's vocal lines: besides his unique, powerful death growls, he now makes the shift to clean passages more confidently. The result is "Just Breathe," possibly their finest all-clean-vocals piece ever. It mixes gently strummed acoustic guitars with their classic, brooding tones and Kuhr's most expressive, melodically arresting singing to date. As the guitars and drums gain momentum halfway through, a melancholic piano theme introduces itself behind the central instruments evoking Blackwater Park. The band even utilize a Steven Wilson-like narcotic vocal part at the end of the song, and it fits perfectly.

Another great thing about Novembers Doom is that fans always know what they can expect from the band. While there will be small changes in dynamics and songwriting, the compositional core of their music is always unaffected. Songs feature Kuhr's unmistakeable growls alternating with his clean singing, most evident on "Heartfelt," perhaps the album's most representative track. It is characterized by a tempestuous guitar work interwoven with complex rhythms and brutal, punishing death growls which are swiftly replaced by a gripping, dare I say 'catchy', clean-sung chorus. "Clear" is Katatonia-like in its flow, with pronounced drum beats and an Opethian guitar solo that would fit their Damnation album. This is one of the finest guitar tones they have yet achieved, and kudos go to both the guitarists and Dan Swano, who mixed the album giving it the sonic touch it deserves. "The Grand Circle" features My Dying Bride-styled vocals (think The Dreadful Hours); Kuhr has never gone for such a theatrical delivery before, portraying different moods without having to rely on his death growls, but melodically and harmonically this song is classic Novembers Doom. "Animus" sees them testing more progressive waters, merging creepy keyboards, distinct meter changes, and face-ripping harsh vocals.

I really enjoy the brief instrumental "Scorpius" as well as the bleak "The Memory Room," which strangely reminds me of Woods of Ypres; actually it feels like the band is paying homage to the band. They should use more of these dark acoustic guitars, not just as intros but also in the more tension-filled passages. Again, Vito Marchese's melodic guitar solo quickly severs ties with any other sonic similarity stamping the piece with the classic Novembers Doom signature. Finally, I should not forget to mention "Unrest," which I thought was somewhat uneventful when I first heard it, but repeat listens had me think of the gothic vocals on the first Nightingale disc, The Breathing Shadow. Those deep vocals are fantastic.

Overall, White Bled is another solid album for Novembers Doom. I am curious to see how the band's long-time fans will rank it in their discography.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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