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Novembers Doom - "The Pale Haunt Departure" (CD)

Novembers Doom - "The Pale Haunt Departure" CD cover image

"The Pale Haunt Departure" track listing:

1.The Pale Haunt Departure (5:44)
2. Swallowed By the Moon (5:57)
3. Autumn Reflection (6:06)
4. Dark World Burden (6:09)
5. In the Absence of Grace (8:09)
6. The Dead Leaf Echo (7:30)
7. Through a Child's Eyes (5:32)
8. Collapse of the Falling Throe (6:36)

Reviewed by on April 27, 2008

"Each song nosedives sharply downhill in quality after the first thirty to forty-five seconds, plodding along boringly without even a hint of the flavor shown at the beginning of the song."

Previous reviews across the internet of Chicago based doom-metal act Novembers Doom may have set the band up for failure in the eyes of many potential new fans by superfluously comparing them favorably to crowned genre giant Opeth, a band that has yet to be dethroned by the crop of newer death-metal hordes. Novembers Doom is unquestionably a talented and innovative group, but unrealistically marketing them as a successor or even replacement for a band like Opeth has probably done them more harm than good. While Novembers Doom and Opeth share a similarity in that both bands switch between growling and clean vocals during songs, the parallels between the two ultimately end there.

The title track of "The Pale Haunt Departure" starts off strong with ghostly distorted voices calling out from the void coupled with an escalating drum beat that is clearly heading into absolutely mind-blowing metal mayhem. This is unfortunately where the flop happens for both the title track and nearly every other track on the entire album. All of "The Pale Haunt Departure's" songs have such excellently crafted intro segments that it would be nearly inconceivable that the music following the introduction could do anything but blaze new territory into the hallowed halls of metal history. Each song nosedives sharply downhill in quality after the first thirty to forty-five seconds, plodding along boringly without even a hint of the flavor shown at the beginning of the song.

The vocalist for Novembers Doom has a surprisingly clear and understandable death-metal growl, but regrettably he doesn't have a very wide range, as the intonation of the growls remain consistently the exact same through the majority of the songs. The clean vocals vary between laughably silly and adequate, which is something that extreme metal enthusiasts just have to live with. Towards the beginning of the second track "Swallowed By The Moon," there is a clean talking segment that is black-metal cheese at its worst, but the clean singing during the rest of the track is surprisingly good. Acoustic interludes, and even completely acoustic songs, are scattered throughout the album with enough variety to keep the listener's interest. The only exception would be in the song "Through A Child's Eyes." While it is a quietly enchanting mild song on its own, they definitely should have left out the background sounds of a baby cooing, which seems completely out of place on an otherwise doom-oriented album.

If Novembers Doom had just somehow continued to incorporate the themes of each intro throughout the entire track, and hadn't made almost every song repetitive and boring after the first half minute, "The Pale Haunt Departure" could have been one of the top ten metal albums of all time. Maybe after a few more albums when the vocalist has had a chance to expand his range considerably and the band can refine their sound, then Novembers Doom could feasibly be compared to Opeth. As it currently stands, Novembers Doom is a solid metal act, but nothing to burn a church over.

Highs: Awesome song intros and compelling mellow tracks

Lows: Songs become plodding and boring after their opening segements

Bottom line: Not a bad doom metal disc, but it probably won't win you over if you aren't already a fan

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)