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Novena - Eleventh Hour Award winner

Novena
Eleventh Hour
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 31 March 2020, 8:39 AM

Founded in 2013 and hailing from London, UK, NOVENA is a Progressive Rock/Metal band. “Eleventh Hour” contains ten new tracks. “2258” leads off the album; a very short mood-setting instrumental, with the sounds of crickets, and some light music, segueing into “2259.” It opens with some harmonic vocal parts, and then the guitars, bass and drums come in, with this pleasing melody. At first the vocals are clean, and then harsh vocals come in, with a rapping style. It’s an odd combination that reminds me a bit of MOONLOOP. The softer elements are actually very pleasing…I find however the harsh vocals to be very harsh.

“Sun Dance” is about half as long. Most of the Progressive elements come from manipulation of the meter, but the rest are fairly subtle. You can clearly hear the bass guitar in the mix, but the song often takes odd chord progressions. “Disconnected” has some rather charming melodies, that are there for the taking…dreamy vocals and cute little guitar chords. “Sail Away” is an even shorter song, coming in at four-and-a-half minutes. It opens softly and quietly, featuring piano notes and spoken words. It takes until the three-minute mark to really get going, and even then, it’s fairly tame overall…very subtle melodies.

“Lucidity” is a ten-minute opus. It opens with a heavy riff, and some piano. Again, the harsh vocals really don’t fit very well. I much prefer the softer ease of the clean vocals and the guitar solo is fine here as well. Heavy accents mix in. “Corazon” opens with this funky little guitar melody before the main riff drops. It’s weighted and dark. When the vocals come in, it has an Eastern sort of flair to it. The anger that has been bubbling under the surface finally comes out in the form of harsh vocals and a heavy accented guitar line, followed by an odd clapping sequence. The main sound the returns.

“Indestructible” opens with a pretty melody that is soon greyed by harsh vocals and a beefier rhythm section. Following this, the alluring melody returns. “The Tyrant” is a ten-minute beast. It begins with heavy accent attacks, that lead to harsh vocals and a darkness that permeates the song. It’s followed by a dreamy sequence, before the anger returns again. This back and forth sequence continues throughout the song…it’s almost as if the song comes to life and then sleeps again.

“Prison Walls” is over fifteen minutes in length. Melody charges forth out of the gates, bright and positive, for the first four minutes. A long sequence of spoken words ensues, angrily. He talks about how “it can never be enough.” “It no one’s fault” is continually repeated in an odd and angry cadence, for much of the middle part of the song. Harsh vocals come into play as they song goes into “panic mode,” as if the end of everything is near. The final four minutes are marked by tender piano notes and strings.

Overall, this was a very unique album, created by sophisticated musicians. I will admit there were some odd connections here that are at times hard to follow, but if you dig in, they make more sense. The level of musicianship is incredible, and these are thought out and skillful compositions. I have no problem with harsh vocals, but they just seemed a bit out of place, when compared to the soft, easy and melodic sounds that occupied much of the album. But then again, isn’t that what makes good music in general…that sense of yin and yang? I have no doubt Progressive music fans will find many layers of pleasing music here.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. 2258
2. 2259
3. Sun Dance
4. Disconnected
5. Sail Away
6. Lucidity
7. Corazon
8. Indestructible
9. The Tyrant
10. Prison Walls
Lineup:
Ross Jennings – Vocals
Gareth Mason – Vocals
Harrison White – Guitar/Keys
Dan Thornton – Guitar
Moat Lowe – Bass
Cameron Spence – Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Music
     


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Edited 10 July 2020
 

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