I’ve always viewed Chicago-based Novembers Doom as the American counterpart to bands like Opeth, Paradise Lost and Katatonia. My first introduction to Paul Kuhr and Co was their “The Pale Haunt Departure” album, a splendid doom/death album with some slight progressive overtones. Their subsequent records were quite to my liking, so I was delighted when I got the chance to review their latest effort as well. Let’s see what “Aphotic” has to offer.
Compared to “The Novella Reservoir” and “Into Night’s Requiem Infernal” the compositions on their new album tend to be heavier. It’s like Paul Kuhr and Co rediscovered their death metal roots again. This is especially the case on songs like ‘The Dark Host’, ‘Harvest Scythe’ and ‘Six Sides’. Luckily this harsher course is combined with some excellent craftsmanship in the songwriting department. Paul Kuhr’s terrifying grunts are in fine form and his clean vocals gives “Aphotic” the typical Novembers Doom melancholic touch which made the previous output so memorable.
There’s also room for some quieter moments on “Aphotic”. One brilliant example is ‘What Could Have Been’, which features a stirring duet between Paul Kuhr and Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering). Definitely one of the highlights on this album. ‘Of Age Of Origin Part II: Day Of Joy’ is very well-constructed power ballad, which contrasts nicely with the harsher material. The well-placed tempo changes gives the album a slight progressive feel.
Production-wise there’s nothing to complain about “Aphotic”. The heavy yet clear sound makes every instrument clearly audible and gives the album some additional drive as well. Neat!
Novembers Doom doesn’t really break any new ground on “Aphotic”. Granted, the material is heavier and more aggressive compared to the two previous albums, but that’s about it. The band has clearly found their collective musical pocket in which they thrive. However, “Aphotic” is a very inspired and driven effort, one that I’m sure will thrill the Novembers Doom fan base. I’m thoroughly impressed!