CD The Novella Reservoir (CD 992800),
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The Novella Reservoir

  • 1. Rain
    2. Novella Reservoir, The
    3. Drown the Inland Mere
    4. Twilight Innocence
    5. Voice of Failure, The
    6. They Were Left to Die
    7. Dominate the Human Strain
    8. Leaving This
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 079

  • Credits
    ProducerChris Wisco
    EngineerChris Djuricic; Chris Wisco

    Personnel: Paul Kuhr (vocals); Larry Roberts (guitar); Joel Nunez (drums, percussion); Chris Wisco (background vocals).
    Audio Mixer: Dan Swan.
    Recording information: Studio One.
    Illustrator: Paul Kuhr.
    In 2005, Novembers Doom made a giant aesthetic leap forward with The Pale Haunt Departure. It put their death metal roots even closer to subtle, multi-dimensional textures in a collection of songs that were not only memorable, but took the band to new levels in orchestrating vocalist Paul Kuhr's somber, often emotionally desperate lyrics. While it's true that the faithful engage in solid debate about the band's high watermark -- Pale Haunt or 2002's To Welcome the Fade -- with 2007's The Novella Reservoir it seems that ND have now laid down an unrelated trilogy of near brilliance in terms of evocative, musically and lyrically sophisticated heavy metal that seamlessly blends death metal, progressive metal, and near gothic soundscapes. There isn't an American band in the genre that comes close to what they do in terms of marrying metal's myriad songwriting forms, sonic adventurousness, and lyrical sophistication. Co-produced with Chris Djuricic, mixed by Dan Swan, and mastered by James Murphy, the production quotient on this set is grander in scope than any ND studio set to date. The Novella Reservoir is more aggressive than its most recent predecessor without losing any of its melodic invention or textural depth. "Rain" comes crackling out of the gate with a death metal charge to open the set. The layers of guitars of Vito Marchese and Larry Roberts playing harmonics over the riff dictate Kuhr going into his lower register to keep the galloping death metal hook within his grasp. His voice is mixed way up; Kuhr's lyrics are completely clear -- although for the first 300 pre-orders of The Novella Reservoir he offered a fully illustrated complete ND lyrics book as a bonus. He growls against the fury as the guitars climb up the trellis of the void as Joel Nunez's drums walk the line of Chris Wisco's constant-throb bass and keep the tension continuous -- especially after the band explodes into the chaos after the bridge.
    The acoustic guitars that introduce the title cut are deceptive, because in less than 30 seconds both electric and bass riffs, swirling melody, and a plodding doom metal verse come crashing into the middle of the mix. Kuhr moves between his growled lower range and his singing voice with help from Wisco and Roberts. It's all gripping, deep and dark failure along with loss and frustration. Kuhn turns his anger both inside and out, but while he indulges his intolerance of his own failures, his acceptance of others' shortcomings is decidedly less malevolent. This is key. Kuhr is like a heavy metal Ian Curtis. He has the images and he's deeply in touch with archetypal images and the modern world's malaise. He's self-indulgent and wrapped in despair without it becoming sordid, but only insofar as stripping off every single ounce of illusion from a given situation. It's not that he's above projecting his anger outward -- check the amazing crunch and crush of "Drown the Inland Mere" for proof. This is the place where death metal and progressive metal come together seamlessly. Neither loses its appeal or its edginess as a result, and the track just soars. There are slower moments on The Novella Reservoir, such as the deeply atmospheric "Twilight Innocence," which is actually a love song with teeth, and the album closer, "Leaving This," a track with a wonderful dynamic range. But the multidimensional death metal cuts are prevalent here -- the unhinged "Dominate the Human Strain" and the mad dash that enters "The Voice of Failure" at about 50 seconds in. It's a well executed, tautly performed, and emotionally honest set from start to finish, and offers further proof that Novembers Doom are, at least in the States, in a league of their own. The Novella Reservoir, with its enormous melodic roar of a sound, comes during a renewed Yankee just-out-of-the-mainstream interest in heavy metal, and should go a long way to convince listeners -- at least those honest and open-minded enough to give it a spin -- that this is the most exciting and forward-thinking music in rock at the dawn of the new century. Highly recommended. ~ Thom Jurek

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