Soundchecks Music Reviews
The End Records
The album was mixed by Dan Swano, a guitarist who plays with bands such as Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath, and Nightingale. It was mastered by guitarist James Murphy (Death, Obituary, and Testament).
THE PALE HAUNT DEPARTURE
review by Octavio Ramos Jr
America's premier doom-death band is back, releasing The Pale Haunt Departure. This time out, Novembers Doom enhances the aggression and thus fashions a revitalised sound that may capture many off guard.
The Pale Haunt Departure opens with the title track, which is much harsher than anything the band has ever played. Structured as doom-death, the music here leans more toward death metal, with the percussion setting a jackhammer pace (courtesy of drummer Joe Nunez, who also plays with Soulfly) and the guitars churning out layers of dissonance (courtesy of axe slingers Larry Roberts and Vito Marchese). Keyboard stings soften the blow, but Paul Kuhr's guttural vocals reiterate the death metal approach. Swallowed By The Moon continues in the same vein. Background vocals on this one are clean, the guitars soften up to create some intense melodies, and acoustic flourishes are on display. Next up is Autumn Reflection, which reintroduces the masses to the classic Novembers Doom sound. The vocals are subdued, the compositional structure leans more toward the slower pace of doom metal, and the guitars churn out monstrous, sustained riffs. Melancholia permeates this track, linking it to gothic metal, another facet of Novembers Doom's style.
Dark World Burden blends the fury of death metal with the sublime enchantment of gothic metal. Vocal trade-offs - from harsh growls to clean croons - work well, and the chug-chugging guitar riffs are almost hypnotising, as are the finger-numbing solos, one of which is performed by producer-musician Dan Swano. In The Absence Of Grace taps into the gothic metal of Cradle Of Filth, down to the cyclic guitars, the acoustic and orchestral interludes, and menacing and mechanical vocals that typically complement Dani Filth's screeches - on this track, the eerie vocals complement Kuhr's guttural growls.
The Dead Leaf Echo is pristine doom-death, at times dense and ponderous while at others moving more toward a faster but equally heavy sound. The power of well-executed doom-death is its ability to convey sorrow and rage at the same time, and Novembers Doom walks this razor's edge perfectly. Through A Child's Eyes is a gentle ballad that resonates long after the song is over, and the closer, Collapse Of The Fallen Throe, is another classic doom-death composition. The only thing missing from this album is the female vocals, which on previous efforts were provided by Cathy Jo Hejna, Mary Bielich, and Sasha Horn.
For those of you who have not discovered Novembers Doom, feel free to begin your assimilation with The Pale Haunt Departure. Longtime fans who have stuck with the band from its inception will be impressed with what they hear. Novembers Doom at last has come into its own. The musicianship is stellar, the compositions are enthralling, and the lyrics are emotionally draining. I plan to play this one for a long time indeed.
for PIGASUS Press