Novembers Doom - Bled White
Label: The End Records
Reviewer: Tarek - 2014-07-09
25 years have passed since NOVEMBERS DOOM ever came to life, and with more than 8 albums in stock the music scene never would be the same without them. NOVEMBERS DOOM keep pushing their borders to new territories record after record, proving to be one of this genre defining acts, and with such momentum built be their last record "Aphotic", it wasn't strange that their ninth album "Bled White" will be on every body's watch.
Being one of the pioneers of Death/Doom with such a great discography, makes coming out with genuine new ideas without disconnecting with their roots tougher every time, and with more front acts in this genre -as KATATONIA and ANATHEMA- drifting to more soft embrace and others splited, puts more pressure to deliver every time and keep the band alive. And while listening to this album I find these guys haven't lost a notch of their edge and brutality, but adding layers of experience and creativity to every release.
Coming after a relatively softer record, "Bled White" kicks you from the start with such a vigorous opening with "Bled White" where vocalist Paul Kuhr shows a great performance mixing brutal growling with clean interludes all over the track, pressing over the more emotional aspects of the music without losing the power and energy of the track a bit, with a memorable solo towards the end which they won't offer a lot more from it, but the variety and quality of rhythmic techniques make up for that, as the artificial armonics in "Heartfelt" which prevent you from getting bored of the repetitive formation of the guitar chords, to combine the Doom sense created by the vocals despair sound and lyrics with much intensity represented by the drums and guitars.
"Just Breathe" is such a convenient title to a slow motion yet profound track that Kuhr's clean vocals and the clean guitars gave us a glimpse of the previous album and made it a perfect match to MY DYING BRIDE fans. The soothing acoustic slow tempo work continues in "Scorpius", that gives us a well earned smoothing rest before they heat things up again with "Unrest" offering some of the albums most approach to Death Metal, with raging chords and galloping riffs and the best guitar solo in the album.
One of NOVEMBERS DOOM best features is that thick powerful sound they keep improving over the years, which gave them certain grace over other bands close to their style. Their sound always succeeds in giving you a great sense of despair and anger at the same time, as you can witness in "The Memory Room" and "Clear", where they also added more of their ambient touches with clean vocals to come as despairing as possible.
Between those last tracks came "The Brave Pawn" with faster tempo, harsher sound and more emphasis on the Death Metal elements which seemed a bit out of contest with this records sound. But "The Grand Circle" brings everything back in order, being as poetic and doomy as ever, talking about the consequences of our actions and how our past keeps hunting us back. And what's better to express the shifting face of life than Paul's memorable clean vocal turning to angry growls and the unique lead line that ends with one of the album's best solos.
Along their discography, some of their tracks display the blend between Death Metal and Progressive composition, approaching OPETH's style, and a perfect example to that is "Animus", which shows different guitar chords progressions and drum breaks over this creepy clean guitar arpeggios that make it stand out from the whole album to be one of their best tracks ever.
And with over a nine minutes track this restless journey comes to an end with a perfect closure with "The Silent Dark" -that I felt connected to instantly- speaking about the comfort of letting go of the past on the climax of your agony. The first part of the track keeps shifting between clean vocal passages and distorted verses before keeping the heavy thick sound with galloping guitar rhythms and a superb drum line showing well timed breaks and a short solo to set the curtains close over one of this year's best releases.
Paul Kuhr has succeeded in delivering one of his finest works ever, hitting every note perfectly, making great balance between his growling and the clean verses to give you all that you can ask for from a vocalist. And given that he writes his own lyrics, the words seem so real and reflect very genuine feelings as this verse from "The Silent Dark":
"I struggled with my demons
these are mine to bear
I can see your constant smile
that is until you look at me"
Larry has also shown a wide variety of ear catching guitar riffs, balancing between doomy mid tempo parts to the heavier faster more intense ones, and the drums were always there to carry him and kick things whenever needed. The bass work was supportive to the music but I felt it could have had a bigger role, specially in the clean parts.
On the contrary to its concept talking about the deprivation of the well to live trapped in the darkest terrifying places, this record is full of life and rage and these guys seem to be on one of their finest shinning moments ever. Moving through it is like feeling the rush of riding a rollercoaster with the sense of impending doom, a unique mix only the such of NOVEMBERS DOOM can deliver, expressing mankind deepest fears and darkest tales without losing their ferocity any second, making it impossible to consider this record just another album you listen to, but a memorial to the brutality and majesty of suffering.
01. Bled White
03. Just Breathe
06. The Memory Room
07. The Brave Pawn
09. The Grand Circle
11. The Silent Dark