Finding in our hands the album that marks the return, after many years, of one of the most influential Italian bands of the last twenty years causes conflicting feelings: on the one hand there is the desire to hear new material counterbalanced by the fear that such a long break may have, in some way, watered down the compositional vis. Australis, the opening track of URSA (which, besides its more immediate meaning in Latin, is, above all, the acronym of Union des Républiques Socialistes Animales, thus recalling the Orwellian Animal Farm), starts again from where the discourse was interrupted: Novembre are among us again, with their masterly encounter between doom, death, dark and post-rock (a genre of which ours are the forerunners, playing it already when nobody had yet dreamed of defining it in such a way). Compared to the past, perhaps the biggest element of discontinuity is not musical but at the level of personnel, because you can not help but notice the noisy absence of Giuseppe Orlando (now permanently in The Foreshadowing): the band is now, therefore, more than ever in the hands of Carmelo Orlando alone, supported by the stable and fundamental presence of Massimiliano Pagliuso on guitar; to complete a line-up of all respect we find two other excellent musicians of the Roman scene as Fabio Fraschini (Degenerhate) on bass and David Folchitto (Stormlord and Nerodia, among others) on drums. URSA flows with an impressive continuity fluid and inspired songs, in which the typical Orlando’s apparently indolent vocal progression alternates with the growl, a style that their Scandinavian counterparts have long given up: in my opinion, the addition of harsher vocals, if dosed wisely as in this case, increases the impact of the sound, providing a dramatic outlet to the sense of soft melancholy that is instead evoked by the clean vocals. At a lyrical level URSA provides a cross-section of humanity that does not portend anything good for the future of the planet, where the dominant species bends to its needs, exploiting it, any other form of life without being touched by any doubt of ethical nature, the theme finds, moreover, its magnificent graphic representation thanks to the cover created by the famous Travis Smith. The mood of the album is affected, although without touching the tragic peaks of the most extreme doom, choosing to communicate these feelings through a sound that, as a trademark of ours, is cloaked in shades mostly autumn, but streaked with frequent acceleration. In the abundant hour in which it develops, URSA does not show any qualitative failure, demonstrating that Novembre are not back just to conform to the fashion of reunion or evocation of what was: Orlando in all these years continued to compose and, in 2016, put on the plate the album that clarifies what the roles of leaders and followers of the scene are; The decision to entrust the production to Dan Swanö is the usual guarantee of success, because it is difficult to find a work produced by the Swedish genius that is not up to the situation and, all in all, it seems that Novembre, with the single Annoluce, intend in some way to pay homage to him, since the song recalls the moods of Edge of Sanity of Crimson (to note, here, the participation of Anders Nyström of Katatonia). URSA moves as a single stream, although each track has its own peculiarities: for example, the aforementioned Annoluce fades into Agathae, a beautiful and long episode almost instrumental folk matrix, in which Pagliuso brilliantly evokes the moods and traditions of Sicily that gave birth to ours: the song turns gradually into a kaleidoscope of emotions and musical nuances, passing fluidly through progressive, death and black, all covered by an elegance and a talent for composition uncommon. Other two songs that impress for their melodic and evocative impact are Umana, maybe the most death doom moment of the whole album, and Oceans Of Afternoons, six minutes of pathos in constant progressive crescendo, sealed by the final intervention of a sax.
More melodic than Opeth and less icy than the last Katatonia, Novembre clearly demonstrate which is the source from which many of the most recent champions emerged within this stylistic segment drank; compared to these, however, the seminal Italian band possesses that extreme background that, even if explicated in a reduced way, represents the ingredient able to give further depth to the sound making it, finally, something unique.
2016 – Peaceville Records
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