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Review: Novembers Doom - The Pale Haunt Departure
Novembers Doom
The Pale Haunt Departure

Label: The End Records
Year released: 2005
Duration: 51:50
Tracks: 8
Genre: Doom/Death


Review online: April 23, 2005
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.1/5 (81.9%) (21 Votes)

This is one hell of an album. I was never a Novembers Doom fan before, as I had heard their previous album from 3 years back "To Welcome The Fade" and I thought it was – honestly – boring. But this one just blew me away. This is the fifth album for this US band who have shown flashes of brilliance before, but have never managed such a sustained and powerful effort.

Novembers Doom really punched things up on this album, and part of that is picking up the pace. Doom Metal is usually slow, but it doesn't have to be, and bravo to this band for seeing atmosphere is much more important than making every song as slow as possible. "The Pale Haunt Departure" gets back to what Doom is really about by building on a rock solid foundation of heavy fucking metal riffs. When the rolling drumbeat kicks in at the opening of the album, you know this is not going to be one of those droning, dull crap Doom albums, and when the guitars come thundering out a second later your jaw will drop at how heavy and catchy this band has become. It's like they finally figured it out. Gone are the dragging arrangements, the female vocals, the keyboard crapola. This is first and foremost a metal album, and it kicks plenty of ass in that regard alone. Songs like "Swallowed By The Moon", "Dark World Burden" and the colossal "The Dead Leaf Echo" will get your head banging in no time.

The second level this album succeeds on, besides the pure deft songwriting, is the evocation of atmosphere. This is Doom after all, so we expect a bleak and despairing musical experience, but Novembers Doom far surpass the usual shapeless ennui of Doom lyrics with a dark and terrifying emotional landscape. This is some kind of concept album, but muddy enough that you can't be sure what you are really reading. It seems to be written from the perspective of a dead father returning as a ghost to longingly watch his child growing up without him, but it slowly twists from longing, into despair, self-loathing, and finally turns menacing and murderous by careful steps, so by the time the last song rolls out it is no longer sad and creepy, but actually frightening. Paul Kuhr's vocals follow the emotional line excellently, shifting from death-styled bellows to monotone intonations and then into fine clear vocals as the lyrics warrant.

The End really outdid themselves with the packaging, as the art and design by Attila Kis is really excellent, reflecting and enhancing the gloomy, eerie vibe of the album. And it really just puts the finishing touch on this fine, fine album. Novembers Doom have really nailed this one, and for fans of Doom/Death Metal they have laid down the album of the year. I see this album ending up on a lot of top ten lists at the end of 2005, a distinction is certainly more than deserves.

More about Novembers Doom...
Review: Hamartia (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Nephilim Grove (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Novella Reservoir (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: To Welcome The Fade (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
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