Novembers Doom – Aphotic (The End Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Since 2005’s excellent Pale Haunt Departure, Novembers Doom have settled into their dark death/doom sound like one would while getting comfortable on a couch. Not to say ND is too comfortable with things, but their post-Pale Haunt output has been workmanlike, save for the album in question, the sterling Aphotic.

Driven by Paul Kuhr’s unearthly bellows (dude has one of the best death metal grunts in the business), ND tear through eight songs that wallow in despair, yet hit the listener with several crushing body blows. The hard-charging “Harvest Scythe” is a prime example of this, with Kuhr volleying between grunts and his gnashed clean vocal delivery. The dreary “Buried” rolls out a sequence of uneasy chords that mesh nicely with crushing riffs, while “Six Sides” follows suit.

The centerpiece of the album is “What Could Have Been,” which features a guest spot from former Gathering siren Anneke Van Giersbergen. Laid-back and restrained, “What Could Have Been” is the type of song that the Gathering made a living off of during their Nighttime Birds era, so of course it’s perfect for Van Giersbergen. To compound matters, ex-Edge of Sanity throat Dan Swano (who also mixed the album) gets in on the act during “Of Age and Origin Part 2: A Day of Joy.”

Not much to bag on here with Aphotic. Few bands in North America create death/doom with such a hardened pulse like Novembers Doom and while this isn’t a total earth-shaker like the aforementioned Pale Haunt Departure (“An Autumn Reflection” will ruin your life), it’s another solid album from a band that is nowhere near slowing down.

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