Novembre Ursa 2016I have an admission to make, and it’s not an easy one. Until the past few weeks, I had never heard of Italy’s Novembre. Yes, as Angry Metal Guy‘s resident doom meister who worships at the altar of the Peaceville Three, considers Funeral‘s From These Wounds a desert-island album, and champions any band that possesses The Riff of Sorrow, I had neglected to check out one of Italy’s heralded progressive exports. Part of that could be the fact that Novembre were dormant following their last album, 2007’s The Blue. Thankfully, I’ve been given a chance to rectify that now that band leader Carmelo Orlando and company have released their first album in over nine years, URSA (abbreviated from “Union des Républiques Socialistes Animales“), which is also the first without longtime drummer (and Carmelo’s brother) Giuseppe Orlando.

With a serene backdrop of an ocean breaking waves upon the sand, “Australis” sets up URSA nicely. Orlando and fellow guitarist Massimiliano Pagliuso blanket each other with beautiful melodies and soulful leads, conjuring up a nice mix of Images and Words-era Dream TheaterBlackwater Park-era Opeth, and modern day Anathema. New drummer David Folchitto does a phenomenal job painting a good rhythm, peppering fills only when necessary and tastefully while bassist Fabio Fraschini fills in the pocket nicely with his tone. I normally dread songs that stretch beyond the seven-minute mark, but “Australis” felt more like listening to a beautiful, dynamic painting that opened up the more it went on. Aurally scenic and breath-taking.

Novembre, though a doom band at heart, aren’t afraid of using all colors at their disposal to craft a remarkable song. “Annoluce” sounds as morosely, wonderfully blue as the cover for Katatonia‘s Tonight’s Decision album, which is fitting as Katatonia‘s Anders Nyström contributes a lead and backing guitar melodies to the track. “Oceans of Afternoons” finds the band veering into Cynic territory vocally, with Orlando’s melody spread out to two octaves, and punctuated with a beautiful saxophone piece to play the song out. “Bremen,” the album’s closest thing to a death metal song, also feels incredibly optimistic and colorful with its uplifting melodies and urgent riffs. But it’s standout track “The Rose” that digs its hooks in the most, with its 6/8 waltzing rhythms, captivating guitar melodies, soaring lead guitars, and some of Orlando’s strongest vocals (both clean and death growls).

Novembre Band 2016
Produced by Dan Swanö, URSA sounds vibrant and lush. The guitars have the proper bite and heft to them without being overpowering, the bass is completely audible throughout the album, and the drums feel organic and lively. But if there was a complaint to be had with URSA, and I’ll admit right now that it comes down to personal taste, it would be with the clean vocals of Carmelo Orlando. His growling voice is incredible and discernible, but his nasally singing is an acquired taste if there ever was one. On some songs, like “The Rose,” his voice blends and soars beautifully, but on others (“Australis” and “Annoluce”), it does get a bit annoying. Again, that may be just a matter of taste, as this album is otherwise phenomenal.

Nine years is a long time between albums, but if that’s what it takes to craft something this beautiful, then take all the time needed. URSA finds Novembre in fine form, showing no signs of rust or atrophy. This also finds me hunting through their back catalog, as URSA is absolutely captivating and enjoyable. Welcome back, and stay awhile.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: Unknown | Format Reviewed: Stream
Label: Peaceville Records
Websites: novembre.co.uk | facebook.com/Novembre
Releases Worldwide: April 1st, 2016

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  • Dan Alderson

    This is great, thanks for turning me onto this!

    • Westpaceagle

      I second this comment. The mixing is really well done and sounds super rich and clear without being too harsh through the heavy sections. I like to be able to really listen to good heavy arrangements without being pummeled. Sometimes anyways.

  • Diego Molero

    You namedrop so many bands that I love, I definitely need to check this out, I’m sure is as good as you said!

    Btw, on you last review (The Bendal Interlude) I asked you a question and you totally ignore me, that’s not cool man :(

    • Grymm

      Sorry about that. It’s been nothing short of chaotic between writing for AMG and my day job.

      With Amebix, seeing as they’ve only had three albums, I would go with Sonic Mass (as it’s the closest to Tau Cross musically), and work your way backwards. Truthfully, you can’t go wrong with any of their albums, though.

      Thank you for your patience!

      • Diego Molero

        I understand, I figure it was something like that as you didn’t really answer any comment. If I may ask, what do you do for a living? Just curious, ignore this question if you want to.

        Anyway, I will check Sonic Mass then, thanks a lot Grymm!

        • Grymm

          Let’s just say it’s far less rewarding than AMG and we’ll leave it at that. ;)

          • Diego Molero

            Damn you don’t even get paid at AMG…

          • Money is nothing. Metal is everything. Obey your metal!

          • Diego Molero

            Trve that.

          • sir_c

            Especially when delivered in gold

    • Bart the Repairman

      I have te same impression. Mentioning early DT, Opeth, modern Anathema, Katatonia & Cynic in one review, is like „hey, let’s examine Bart’s music taste and write about it!”
      Thanks Grymm, I’d have missed it without you:)

  • Bart the Repairman

    1. „Novembre, hmm… I listened to this once, they released some fresh record not so long ago.”
    2. „(…) their last album, 2007’s The Blue.”
    3. “Nine years is a long time between albums (…)”.
    4. 2007 = nine years ago. HOLY FUCK.

    • Berit Dogg

      Welcome to the Olde Metal Fucks, young man!

    • sir_c

      And by the end of your lunch you realize that meanwhile a whole new generation has grown up

  • When I discovered this band some years ago, I went with Novembrine Waltz (fourth album, 2001) as it had most rates and highest ratings on both metal-archives and metalstorm. I did like it, but I normally prefer my death/doom with a bit more bite/edge. I eventually kind of forgot about them. Now that I’m spinning that album anew, it all comes back to me. Beautiful serene and tranquil moods with rather intelligent progressive structures.
    Now that the promo download has been enabled on Haulix, I’ll give this band a new opportunity.

  • Levly

    I’ve been a fan of the band ever since a friend introduced me to them more than ten years ago, so I’m very happy that they finally released a new record and that it’s as beautiful as their earlier work.

    Anyway, great review! I agree that the biggest barrier to entry to this band’s music is the clean vocals which can be both annoying and too melodramatic at time, but thankfully they bland beautifully with the music more often then not.

    My favorite records from them are Classica, Novembrine Waltz (Child of the Twilight in particular is wonderful despite a cheesy intro) and The Blue. All three records are great and there’s a real progression in their sound too.

  • RuySan

    I do remember this band, but completely forgot they ever existed in the last few years. They were ok, so to speak. Not something to se the world on fire.
    And Ursa (female bear) is kind of a weird name for a Doom Album, or any other album for that matter. Maybe they’re anticipating bears as the next cats/ducks.

    • Jm from nj

      Read the end of the first paragraph for what URSA stands for.

      • RuySan

        I doubt the teddy bear on the cover is just a coincidence. They probably came with the acronym after, like those silly computer games such as f.e.a.r.

        • tomasjacobi

          “The album title, ‘URSA’, (the acronym for “Union des Republiques Socialistes Animales”), was the title initially chosen for the French translation of George Orwell’s masterpiece novel Animal Farm. Lyrically and conceptually the album is a statement against the squalor of an Orwellian apocalypse Novembre feel we’re committing towards the Earth and its sons.”
          Quoted from the Peaceville store at Burning Shed.

  • Jm from nj

    I think I’ve boiled down what prevents me from coming back to this band more…I sometimes can’t get past the lack of the singer’s range. Musically, they are stunning. The singing though…sounds like whining. I’d almost rather no singing. I know I’m in the minority here.

    • Pimpolho

      I agree. It pretty much ruined it for me :(

      • Thatguy

        I’m one of those who feel otherwise. He is a technically limited singer but the songs are set up for him and I like his voice in this context.

        Lovely song and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they are active again.

        Oh, and thanks for the very good review, Grymm.

        • Wilhelm

          True, his vocals kind of grow on you, they are not great but they fit well into the music, the mix also, is not bad, the vocal levels blend well, and do not overpower the compositions.

        • Pimpolho

          After listening to the album a few more times, i agree. They are kinda Alcest-like, and they do fit. Except on this embedded track. Here, they suck.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      True…

  • Ive been a fan of these guys since their early years and their early discography is quite good. Classica was one of the best albums of 1999 and Novembrine Waltz was quite an excellent followup. For anyone who likes this, I encourage you to check out these albums as well.

  • PS: The dynamic ranges is DR7 (with four tracks at DR6 and six on DR7).

    • Grymm

      Thank you!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Well, Blue was great. Sample sounds pretty good. Adding to my list.

  • JL

    What a coincidence … I’m listening to this right now and I came here and you’ve just reviewed it. I’m on song 3 and it’s really great so far. Very melancholic and moody, but beautiful guitar lines permeate throughout and the production is really solid IMO. I’m very impressed.

  • JL

    The final minute of Umana is majestic.

  • Wilhelm

    From what I’ve heard of this album, it’s a solid listen. They are doing the atmospheric thing quite well. Novembre is not the most epic, the heaviest, or doomiest, nor do they create timeless classics like Anathema and Katatonia, and most often there is some awkwardness to their compositions…but they are unique and atmospheric, slightly progressive and accessible without being commercial. Swano did a good job, but a little too loud on the mastering part (but not terrible).

    • strychnin

      That could nicely sums a near mark 4.0 hit ;)

  • Wilhelm

    One of the best covers I’ve ever heard is theirs of Cloudbusting (Kate Bush).

    • gustman17

      Couldn’t get into Novembrine Waltz, but dammit that cover gives me the manly tears. It even made me more sympathetic to Wilhelm Reich!
      …I’d actually like the band more if they went fully with the female vocals.

      • Wilhelm

        The lyrical background that song is so beautiful and tragic, makes me tear up sometimes when I listen to it…it’s one of those rare cases where the cover might be even better than the original, and yes i would love to hear more female vocals in Novembre’s music.

        • gustman17

          Absolutely. In fact, I’d say Novembre’s music on this album is very feminine in its comforting, ethereal sounds. That cover art fits perfectly.

    • Requiem

      Exactly. ‘Novembrine Waltz’ is one of the greatest albums of all time. Incredible music.

  • Hulksteraus

    Been listening to Novembre since Arte Novacento in 1996 (ie a long time :) ). I love all their albums. They have a distinct sound and their music is beautiful. Carmello’s vocals do take some getting used to, but they don’t overpower the music. Damn, 2016 is turning out to be another money draining year metal-wise…

  • El_Cuervo

    You did not prepare for the unspeakably awesome passage from 4:25 on Australis. I can barely contain my erection.

  • De2013

    Nice embedded track and great review. Hope to check it out somewhere this year :-) Still listening to Hyperion.

  • SegaGenitals

    Itallian progressive doom? Makes me want to weep into my lasagna… in the dark. Album is good.

  • Philip Wyeth

    Pretty ridiculous you never listened to Novembre before. They recorded their debut album in 1994 at Dan Swano’s studio about six months after Opeth tracked “Orchid” there–and along with Katatonia, Anathema, and Fall of the Leafe were on the avant-garde scene’s cutting edge for a solid decade.

    Since you haven’t had their masterwork ‘Novembrine Waltz’ bouncing around your skull for years it makes me wonder if you’re even qualified to give ‘URSA’ a relevant review considering you have no perspective on their career. But now I guess you have a chance to go back and make up for lost time.

    My personal take on this album after a few listens is that Carmelo Orlando has lost some of that dynamic fire which made for grandiose moments of triumph on the aforementioned ‘Waltz’ album, songs like “Nostalgiaplatz” on ‘Classica,’ “Gepetto” on ‘Materia,’ and “Triesteitaliana” on ‘The Blue.” In some ways it took ‘URSA’ until track 8 to really delve into new musical territory.

    This is not really a shock to me–Carmelo laid it all out there for so long, creating unheard-of soundscapes on ‘Wish I Could Dream It Again’ (recorded long before the internet hive homogenized our metal experiences), and I could sense a subtle mellowing over the previous two records. Whereas ‘Novembrine Waltz’ was tight and efficient in its delivery of songs both visionary and unforgettable, there’s been a subtle drop in such potency ever since. The loss of brother Giuseppe on drums also leaves a telling void as here the playing comes across as delicate and simplistic compared to his confident and innovative past performances.

    Like I said, this ageing process isn’t a shock and something tells me that the mellow and digestible ‘URSA’ might be the album that finally gives Novembre their deserved time in the metal spotlight.

    (Anyone unfamiliar with Fall of the Leafe might be interested in their arc from the extreme/melodic ‘August Wernicke’ to towering transition piece ‘Fermina’ to masterwork ‘Vantage.’)

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Great flow. Still trying to fully get into it, but more listens will do it – you can clearly hear the quality in the music.

  • Requiem

    What’s up here – you’re the “resident doom meister” who apparently worships at the altar of the Peaceville 3, but somehow you “dread” songs over 7 minutes long, rate ‘From These Wounds’ as a desert island album depite all songs but one from it over 7 minutes, and have never even HEARD of Novembre…?! What sort of… what is this?

  • DrewMusic

    Only just now seeing this reviewed here, sorry to reopen old wounds but I’m also pretty surprised that Sir Grymm was so late to the Novembre party. Obviously no one can know all things metal, just odd that I was apparently aware of a fairly well established act before one of my shining black knights of metal was. It just feels kind of like having my dad try to tell me about this cool new thing called Facebook is all.
    As per the music itself, I only got into this particular album about 2 weeks ago, I don’t tend to get too excited about an album full of nose vocals (nocals? Nox?) so I held off, but damn.
    DAMN. No new ground got covered here, but where they did wander they set everything on fire in a glorious way. This band nose exactly what they’re doing with all the melo-doom artifacts the Peaceville 3 left us with, it’s nice to hear this music done so well and I don’t see this album leaving my headphones for a while.