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Novembers Doom - Nephilim Grove Award winner

Novembers Doom
Nephilim Grove
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 21 October 2019, 4:29 AM

NOVEMBERS DOOM is a Chicago based Doom Metal band formed in 1989 and one of the earliest examples of the sub-genre.  They have been through numerous line-up changes over their 30-year career but the one constant has been songwriter and vocalist PAUL KUHR.  “Nephilim Grove,” is their 11th full length album, a monumental achievement that so many bands never reach.

The album kicks off with “Petrichor,” a song that sounds very much like Sludge and early MASTODONPaul’s vocals start off clean but harsh—not quite the Death growls we are so used to but definitely still abrasive.  The chorus comes and his cleans come out loud and clear; he has definitely improved his clean vocals over the years and this song, and album, is his best performance.  After a clean, ambient section Paul’s famous growls rear their monstrous head.  Much like his cleans, I think he gives his best performance with his growls as well on this album.  He just sounds so towering and even frightening.

Speaking of sounds, the legend Dan Swano handled production duties and the band has probably never sounded better—everything is clear but not too loud or with any instrument fighting to overcome another. The title track, “Nephilim Grove,” nails down a solid Doom riff after a cleaner intro. Larry and Vito play a lot of kick ass riffs on this album—this album has the band’s most memorable riffs in years.  At the 4:21 mark, these riffs get the blood pumping and the head banging.  The mixture of these riffs, Paul’s growls, and the melodic bass makes for a high climax to an already great song.

As much as I like the first four tracks, I’m happy to report the album kicks into high gear at track five—and stays there.  So many albums are front loaded these days but “Nephilim Grove,” just gets better as it goes.  “Adagio,” is easily one of their best tracks ever. Garry’s drums straight up destroy this song, complimenting the track while forging its own path of destruction.  His entire performance on this album is one for the ages.  The band may be drenched in melancholy, but his drumming is infectious and energetic.  This song has it all: moments of melodic touches, harrowing growls, soaring cleans, and enough riffs to satisfy even the most jaded Doom fan.

Black Light,” will satisfy fans who miss their more extreme early days, with passages that are closer to the Death Metal spectrum.  Paul is never one to stay stuck in the past so the song still sounds like what fans would expect the modern-day version of this band to play. As a huge KATATONIA fan (I assume a lot of us NOVEMBERS DOOM fans are), “The Clearing Blind,” really excites me as it reminds me of a more intense version of that band’s modern sound.  The vocal melodies are perfect, as are the riffs, specifically the ones during the song’s second verse.

The last two tracks are also among the band’s best.  “Still Wrath,” is wrapped up in groove filled Doom riffs, one hell of a growling performance, and a slick chorus.  Garry’s performance across the song is nothing short of inspiring. The final track, “Obelus,” begins life with a stellar bass performance. The whole song builds up to the moment at 3:38 when these badass riffs break open the whole song and Paul does that spine-chilling growl over them.  I challenge anyone to listen to this part of the song and not want to slam your body into something and just throw down hard.  Those amazing riffs end the song, and the album, as perfectly as it began.

With “Nephilim Grove,” NOVEMBERS DOOM has joined the small ranks of bands who have never put out a bad album.  It is an album that is an ode to the band’s past, a sterling example of their present, a look at their still bright future. I have reviewed dozens and dozens of albums this year and I can say with utmost confidence that “Nephilim Grove,” is a strong contender for my album of the year as 2019 winds down to a close.

Songwriting:10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Petrichor
2. The Witness Marks
3. Nephilim Grove
4. What We Become
5. Adagio
6. Black Light
7. The Clearing Blind
8. Still Warmth
9. The Obelus
Lineup:
Paul Kuhr - Vocals
Larry Roberts – Guitars
Vito Marchese – Guitars
Mike Feldman – Bass
Garry Naples - Drums
Record Label: Prophecy Productions
     


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