Review: Novembers Doom – Hamartia
I know it is not November. Shut up and listen!
They can be drowned in tranquility, knowing that they had become a referent inside the death/doom metal niche, but Novembers Doom still have something to say and express with their music.
The Chicagoans spent the last 25 years reaffirming their romantic formula of twilight colored brand of metal with an impressive baggage of 10 albums.
Far away from the gothic realms of North Europe that spawned impressive vampires’ collectives, like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost or Katatonia, the solitude of Novembers Doom probably helped them to refine and thought more about their sound and the expressiveness of their artistry.
2017 marks the release of a new piece dedicated to the blood red emotions of their traditional color palette. Under the banner of Hamartia, the band led by the versatile poetic command of Paul Kuhr inspire new symbols for their ardent fan base.
Unlike their European counterpart, Kuhr and co. do not devolve too quickly into the Victorian loss of mind or miserable swamps. Indeed, Novembers Doom is a band with their claws on the death and the other in the doom spectrum of the metallic realms.
Of course, Hamartia have those healthy doses of the so called “headbangable” material with the typical heartfelt segments of their traditional setup, but besides the typical attitude towards their songwriting, there is something that really clicks in this album.
Retaining their bleak narrative since the stellar 2014’s album Bled White, Hamartia kicks off with “Devil’s Light” demonstrating with a huge wall of rhythmic power that this journey will going to make you weep and sweat at the same time. Tremendous double bass sections and a melodic soloing break punches and thrash all the way until the end. A mighty beginning.
Producer Chris Wisco and the legendary Dan Swäno on the boards doing the mixing and mastering duties turns to eleven the dials of awesomeness. Crisp and clear, without sacrificing the gritty nature of Novembers Doom makes Hamartia a worthy addition to the band’s catalogue.
All of this can be verified on a killer cut like “Plague Bird”, a song that emanates the My Dying Bride worship without retorting into derivative structures.
“Plague Bird” can be considered a pertinent highlight inside the track list. Paul Kurh recites on his own flow with the baritone soulful singing while cutting the veil of the air with well spotted devilish growls that pays homage to the extreme side. Angular, contrasting and correctly built, the second track is a defining moment into what Hamartia is and offers to their public.
Swäno and Wisco helped the songs shine in their own way. Powerful dynamics are dense inside most of the tracks, with correct instrument placing and the exact amount of volume in each one according to each part played so the entire listening of Hamartia comes as a pleasant and enveloping experience.
“Ghost”, the title track, “Miasma” scratch the gloom textures with warm sound effects of melancholy, meanwhile “Ever After”, “Apostasy”, “Zephyr” hurts like hell with the ominous and palpable rhythmic drives. The closer “Borderline” with 9 minutes of duration serves as a correct testament of an album that never miss the target.
For sure, Mike Feldman and Garry Naples manages to give the gas needed for the band to endure the twists and turns of the varied composition tricks on Hamartia and the listener is advised: they will get punished by their precise execution, because bass and drums are one of the key aspects of the album’s sound.
It is worth mentioning that the final segment of the album had some incredible guest appearances. Rhiannon Kuhr, the daughter of the band’s vocalist, Bernt Fjellestad (of the power metal combo Guardians of Time) and Dan Swäno himself poured some interesting performances on the record.
I cannot help myself of comparing Hamartia with the later Katatonia or Dark Tranquillity albums. Like those incredible records, Novembers Doom crafted a worthwhile album comprised of their signature sound experimenting and being blended with some progressive elements that empowered them to create songs that can rest inside their older catalogue, yet exploring new sound palettes within their own creative experiences.
Melodic, defiant, contrasting and moody. Novembers Doom Hamartia is one of the greatest records of this year in the confines of this metal spectrum. Check it out if you really need that black ink inside your veins.