Review: Novembers Doom “Amid Its Hallowed Mirth” [Avantgarde Music]

Review: Novembers Doom “Amid Its Hallowed Mirth” [Avantgarde Music]

- in Reviews

Novembers Doom are one of the stranger bands that we’ve tend to associate with the doom/death metal genre. They began as a faithful doom/death metal unit and although they’ve never abandoned their metal roots, the doom characteristics of this band seemed to have vanished over time from what I’ve heard. That’s quite a different musical journey than that of Anathema, Katatonia, Paradise Lost… or plenty of others for that matter.

If you couldn’t get enough of the English doom/death metal variant that had a harsh edge to it, then the Novembers Doom of this era should certainly appeal to your taste. Guitars summon a mass of big riffs that punish with crushing intent and instead of an occasional taste of relentless death metal riffing, there’s a clear emphasis on groove and slow-swinging rhythms. Harsh vocals sound deep, yet leave enough of an impression behind due to their comprehensive tone; recalling a more muscular Aaron Stainthorpe, while occasional spoken passages and female vocals seem to be incorporated for variety’s sake. I’m also fond of the rumbling bass, which adds another massive dimension to the sound and let’s face it; that’s always works ideal for a doom metal, doesn’t it? Then again, I’m less fond of the drums; they sound a bit flat and powerless (although you could ask yourself whether that’s extremely problematic for this style to begin with).

What makes Amid Its Hallowed Mirth tricky are the compositions and I can’t be the only one who thinks that the writing formula appears to be a double edged sword. The listening experience feels consistent and even; meaning that the band refrains from experimenting with so-so results (think of Turn Loose the Swans, with its bizarre tracks that start and finish the album). Yet, a part of me wonders whether the band doesn’t play slightly safe here; meaning it’s rather same-y and not too emotionally evocative – even if Amid Its Hallowed Mirth is not without highlights. “Aurora’s Garden” almost recalls a fusion between My Dying Bride’s early gothic leanings and Paradise Lost at their most Sabbath-esque (meaning: closer to Shades of God than Gothic). It’s a melancholic, yet hefty opener that also owes a lot to a rewarding climax that’s driven by the morose lead-melody and guttural howls of regret. From here, Amid Its Hallowed Mirth sounds less emotionally evocative and thus, somewhat less exciting, even if it never takes a wrong turn by any means. “Amour of the Harp” tells less of a personal story, but does manage to conjure vivid images of apocryphal landscapes with those guitars that howl slowly through the night. Other enjoyable songs include the nasty Cathedral-esque doom of “My Agony, My Ecstasy”, which also features a solid beauty and the beast-driven chorus and the tragedian behemoth that is “Chorus of Jasmine”; the latter resembles early Anathema in terms of expressive leads, but with such massive guitar stomps, it’s yet another track that recalls My Dying Bride.

The thing is, although you could never fault Amid Its Hallowed Mirth for sounding inconsistent, it’s as if Novembers Doom are afraid to get their hands dirty. Granted, earlier doom/death metal albums such as Gothic and Turn Loose the Swans aren’t without flaws either, but those albums are written by bands that had no issue taking risks at the time. In Novembers Doom’s case, it’s as if they’re sticking to their guns at all costs; meaning that after a few tunes you basically know what to expect and even the rawer-produced “Sadness Reign” and “A Dirge of Sorrow” sound closer to pre-drinking garage-jams than heartfelt expression that I’ve come to love of doom/death metal. Faithful, yet with hardly any surprises in store, these tunes sound fine, but they’re just not moving me emotionally – nor do they have the power to get me in the mood for something physical (before you think of something freaky; I’m referring to banging my head, mind you).

Needless to say, Amid Its Hallowed Mirth is a fine example of romantic, yet weighty doom/death metal, even if it’s not exactly top-notch stuff by any means. Nonetheless, anyone who yearns for more song-driven dramatics will most likely enjoy it for what it is.

Score: 72/100 – Playing it right or playing it safe?

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