November's Doom_Bled WhiteOf all the bands skulking around the doom/death catacombs, none manage to trigger more raw emotion in me than Novembers Doom. They aren’t necessarily the best band in the genre, but when they lock everything in, the melancholy pours like rain off a tin roof in Seattle. They’re the authors of one of the most depressing songs of all time (“What Could Have Been“) and there’s something unique about their fusion of Paradise Lost and Type O Negative with vaguely Opeth-esque style death metal that really drills down deep into the heart of darkness within. Perhaps it comes from the real life trials and travails afflicting singer Paul Kuhr, or some other wellspring of negative human emotion, but regardless of the source, the impact their music delivers is often harrowing. Bled White is their ninth platter of dour, mournful doom mixed with crushing death and they haven’t strayed much from their well-worn template. As such, there are no major surprises to be found, though I detect a stronger Trouble influence (no surprise as they both hail from the Chicago doom scene) and there’s a much greater emphasis on vocal melodies and harmonies. The result is an ever so slightly more diverse, melodious outing that keeps their trademark sound intact while honing its dreary edge.

As the opening title track unspools, those familiar with Novembers Doom will feel right at home, as this is the archetype of their style. The references to Paradise Lost are strong and the thick, heavy riffing is paired effectively with Kuhr’s death rasps while his baritone singing is counterpointed by more subtle and melodic guitar-work. It’s certainly good, but there’s a strong feeling of overfamiliarity and of having been here many times before that undercuts things. The same feeling pervades “Heartfelt” as well, though it rises above it through extremely bitter, dark lyrics and a sense of ominous foreboding.

“Just Breathe” is the album’s set piece ballad, and this is where Novembers Doom has made serious hay in the past. Older efforts like “Twilight Innocence” and “What Could Have Been” really got people’s attention and generated a buzz beyond the doom/death scene. This one is very much in the same wheelhouse as its predecessors and it’s a good, haunting tune where Kuhr gets to blend his vocals into facsimiles of the late Pete Steele (Type O Negative), the late Dave Gold (Woods of Ypres) and the thankfully still with us Eric Wagner (Blackfinger, ex-Trouble). The pathos flows freely, but it isn’t as good as the aforementioned songs and it leaves me just a bit nonplussed.

November's Doom_2014

Just as a vague sense of disappointment begins to set in, Bled White shifts into an altogether higher gear and delivers the album’s best material. “Unrest” is heavier and more crushing, expertly balancing the hard and soft sides of the band, playing one off the other for maximum effect. “The Memory Room” is the standout, leveraging the genius of latter day Woods of Ypres with a trippy mood similar to what Trouble was doing on their Manic Frustration and Plastic Green Head albums. The music drifts this way and that, grabbing ideas from Pink Floyd and The Beatles and merging them all with death and doom to craft what can only be described as a wild mushroom ride. “Clear” keeps this winning hybrid style going and lays on the melancholy as Kuhr delivers an impressive performance. It clicks and resonates deeply.

At almost an hour and ten minutes, it’s a long album to be sure, and some trimming could have been done on lengthy, but enjoyable tracks like “The Silent Dark.” However, it isn’t a chore to sit through due to the diversity of material, smart pacing and constantly shifting dynamics. It also sounds satisfying and rich, which should come as no surprise, as Dan “Fucking” Swanö co-produced it. The guitars have plenty of power and edge and the vocals are allowed proper space to breathe and grow. That’s fortuitous, since Kuhr’s vocals are so essential to the Novembers Doom sound.

Although things get off to a slightly underwhelming start, Bled White ends up yet another successful and satisfying journey into the shadows of the human experience, sure to depress and dispirit even the stoutest of souls. It has real depth and genuine nuance, yet remains direct and accessible. In short, check this out and soak in the emotional waterfall.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7  |  Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: The End Records
Websites:   |
Release Dates: Out Worldwide on 07.15.2014

  • Vlad Invictus

    Pretty good review for a great album. I too think it would’ve been even better if they shortened it a bit, but one can never get enough of Novembers Doom. I enjoyed the sound mix and the atmosphere overall. It is surely among my favorite releases this year.

  • Oh man, I lost touch with this band after The Pale Haunt Departure, having a serious nostalgia trip revisiting To Welcome The Fade right now… looking forward to giving this new one a listen, your description makes it sound pretty excellent.

  • replica

    The vocal composition for the first song chorus is fantastic. Great album, but it isn’t quite the monster Aphotic was. November’s Doom simply doesn’t make bad albums.

  • euthanatos

    I thought this album was amazing, and, to me, right up there with The Pale Haunt Departure. I was lukewarm with their previous two releases, but this is just awesomesauce.

  • DrChocolate

    Um…what’s with the promo picture in an elevator? “Going Down…..” Wait, Aerosmith already did that. It’s hard to look metal-man-hard in the well lit lobby lift. There’s some weird ass band photos out there, but for sheer wtf-ness this might take the cake.

    • I think its a freight elevator if that helps any….

      • DrChocolate

        If true, that helps … a little. Regardless, this is a band that has always existed on the peripheries of my metal experience. Based on this review, the embedded track, and my unabashed love of gloomy-doomy-gothy metal I need to rectify this oversight. This seems right up my alley

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    How about an AMG what we missed type post?
    Just been listening to the new Saor release from last month, its really good…

    • Those pop up toward the end of the year.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I think you need to be more angry about the metal we may have missed…

  • I’ve been streaming this album on Spotify and enjoying the hell out of it. Probably going to have to snag a hard copy.

  • Well said, I totally agree. It’s a solid album. I don’t expect to be playing it as much as I played the last one. I am loving those guitar tones.

  • Guest

    Maybe it’s just me, but that song you put up reminds me (kinda creepily) of Woods of Ypres’ last album they put out before David Gold died. Mostly vocals… but yeah.

    • Nope, not just you. I hear it on several of the songs as I mentioned in the review.