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Novallo: Novallo II

There's no simple way to begin talking about this EP. Even its own beginning, "Wake," is much more complex than the seemingly simple act of opening one's eyes. Similarly, "Sleep," the closing track, suggests something other than closing one's eyes. But maybe this album is all about surprises and reversals. I was also drawn to the clear science fiction influence that runs through this release. Sure, the cover art is slightly too dramatic on that score. In it, the band members—their faces large, their attention riveted—gaze intently at a mysterious object. And what is that object? Probably just a McGuffin, a representation of a thing everyone is after, but that's entirely the point. What is this band really about? On the whole, Novallo's members are dedicated to nothing less than the craft of music itself. The music wildly blends elements of progressive rock, jazz, metal, pop, and everything else in between. The blending is so intense at times that, even though the band resists easy classification, they nevertheless have a swelling body of fans. For now, let's just assume that the science fiction angle on display here has more to do with the band's apparent otherworldliness than anything else.

Much of the appeal on this recording comes from Gino Bambino's guitar playing. I like the range and intensity of his style, but it can be exhausting for some listeners, especially when the virtuosity of one guitar passage is so stunning that quieter passages are by turns disappointing. Listeners can decide what guitar styles they prefer, but connoisseurs of really ambitious stuff will want to check out this band. Bambino is obviously a player to watch. Sam Gitiban's vocals are also drawing attention for their intensity and their range. I found them impressive, but I'm more of a guitar guy.

My own take on this EP is somewhat mixed. I liked the energy of tracks like "Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton" and "White Phoenix," I couldn't decide whether the music was interesting for its flashiness or for its overall quality. There's so much on display here that I would like to see how things shake out for these guys in the next few months.

As for the music, there's simply no denying the band's talent; the music showcases it beautifully from start to finish. Still, I occasionally found myself wanting something a little different from the overall arrangement; I'm not talking about a radical change, just a rearranging of the chairs before the guests arrive.

Fans of Revocation might find some echoes of that band in the music on this release. The guitar style warrants comparison, as do some of the more ambitious musical moments. But Novallo isn't really an extreme metal band. They're more of a progressive band that divides its energies between pop and rock and the wilder versions of jazz. Even if my reaction is somewhat mixed, the band grabbed my attention and introduced me to an interesting and uncanny new sound.

Track Listing:
1. Wake
2. Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton
3. I AM
4. Sideways Bird
5. Give Gravity a Choice
6. White Phoenix
7. Sleep

Added: January 28th 2016
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1319
Language: english

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