Novembre Materia

While releasing this album so soon after Katatonia’s recent opus may wind up being a near fatal marketing error on the part of the never reliable Peaceville Records, it would be a damn shame. After several years of relative inactivity, Italy’s Novembre have returned with an album that will likely disappoint some long-time fans, but is no less compelling than their previous work. A good deal more relaxed and in a sense, monotonous than their last full length, The Novembrine Waltz, the growling and overall aggression have decreased in favour of densely produced and meticulously layered melody. The clean vocal performance on this disc is nothing short of staggering. The harmonies and arrangements are not only an astounding compositional and technical achievement, they are capable of making the most downtrodden doom fan tear up — this is incredibly powerful stuff. A 60-minute running time threatens to derail the entire affair, and as such, this is not really an album to sit down and focus on — more one to drift off to during the wee hours while dwelling on your insecurities, shortcomings and increasingly distant and thoughtless "loved ones.” Fans of the aforementioned Katatonia, as well as more progressive groups such as Anathema or Agalloch, will find much to cry over — in as positive a context as possible. (Peaceville)