Novembre – “Ursa” (Peaceville Records)
Ambient gothic doom from Italian maestros Novembre! Last heard almost a decade ago (!), Novembre have returned spectacularly with this magnificent release. The seeds of Novembre were originally planted in 1990, when the band was originally known as Catacomb, but as the band evolved, so to did the name. With longtime drummer and co founder Giuseppe Orlando leaving the band last year, only guitarist / vocalist / keyboardist Carmelo Orlando remains, but I have say “Ursa” is nothing short of perfect. If I could imagine the essence of beautiful music, then the 10 tracks here would be definitive in their stunning atmosphere. Although simplistic enough in their titles like my personal fave ‘Easter’, the compositions are both deep in emotion and execution, having soundscapes incorporating simultaneous melancholia and exquisite melodies in both heavy and lighter phases – just check out ‘Agathae‘ that starts off with Italian folk and ends up in screaming blast beats before tripping off into prog surrealism – breathtaking! With the title track initially chosen from the French translation of George Orwell’s classic novel ‘Animal Farm’, feral rasps blend with elegant chiming guitars and passionate goth melodies building into a shoe gaze type frenzy of orgasmic musical proportions – utterly possessing!! With a reinvigorated musical alliance with guitarist Massimiliano Pagliuso, the line-up is completed by Fabio Fraschini (previously bassist on the ‘Materia’ album), and David Folchitto on drums. There is also a special guest vocal appearance from Anders Nyström of Katatonia and with Dan Swanö (Opeth, Katatonia, Bloodbath) handling the production on this premier release it went well beyond my expectations. Opeth, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, their aspects are all there but where they are is almost where Novembre actually begin, extrapolating what they do far into a beyond that is both sophisticated and spell bounding in its dreamy escapism as its haunting brutality.