Chicago’s Novembers Doom add another devastating entry to stellar resume with ‘Bled White’

Novembers DoomYou know you’re hearing music that is full of hatred and disgust if the words that come at you are ones you hope no one ever thinks about you. Or says to you in a confrontational way. Those words make you wonder what misdeeds must have inspired them and what kind of wounds must have been inflicted.

It took just one visit with “Bled White” from long-running doom metal band Novembers Doom to get a heaping dose of the hurt and torment lurking beneath the surface. Paul Kuhr, the band’s lone remaining original member, always has been one of the most expressive voices in this realm of music, and over the course of the group’s previous eight records, he created dark tapestries that let the listener in to face some of the darkest emotions one can feel. Yet on this ninth album, the hurt seems to go even deeper, the scorn feels thicker, and the wish to see the worst come to his subject matter is as real as it gets. Through these 11 songs and 68 minutes of metallic torture, Kuhr again and again reveals his hole-ridden heart, one that’s sustained enough damage to last many lifetimes and that he has no qualms with putting on display. You’ll want to look away, but you just won’t be able to do so.

Novembers Doom coverNovembers Doom is a band that’s had a lot of members come through its doors (including Derketa’s Mary Bielich and Sasha Horn of Melechesh and Forbidden) with all making their own contributions and making themselves a part of this world of forlorn. The band that created “Bled White” along with Kuhr includes guitarists Larry Roberts (who has been on board since 1999) and Vito Marchese, bassist Mike Feldman, and drummer Garry Naples, and they’re a dangerous unit that matches Kuhr’s emotional intensity and backs him with crushing doom, sections of gothic depression, and clubbing fury that build the proper amount of muck and chaos. Combined, they’ve created a noteworthy record that solidifies Novembers Doom’s reputation as one of doom’s most revered acts and strengthens their resume that already was rock solid to begin with.

The title track opens the proceedings, and with it comes prog tendencies, growled vocals, and a dour feeling, as Kuhr wails, “The more you love me, the more I die.” It’s one of the first depressing, self-flagellating expressions on this record, and it only gets darker from here. “Heartfelt” is a killer of a song, with stormy melodies, creaky growling, and eventually full-fledged singing that might remind some of Type O Negative at their finest. The chorus is swelling and awesome, and as the song reaches its bleakest and most disgusted, Kuhr stabs, “I can only hope hell is real, and demons are eating your soul.” You don’t wish that on someone with whom you’re only slightly annoyed. “The Brave Pawn” is punchy and shredding at times, with the drums reaching a D-beat-style fury in spots, and the bulk of the song is grisly and damaging. “The Grand Circle” has a cleaner open, with gothy leanings, clean singing that eventually runs headlong into crushing growls, and a dark melodic finish that douses you in the piss and vinegar. “Clear” is another strong one, with great singing from Kuhr, a chorus that’ll stick to your ribs, and doom morbidity that is spread pretty thick all over this one.

“Just Breathe” is the first of its kind on this record, that being a song that doesn’t wallow in negativity and hate and instead extends an encouraging word of hope. It’s still pretty dark, as it trickles coldly, and in spots it reminds of heyday Queensryche and Nevermore, which made me pretty excited about it. “It gets better from here,” Kuhr urges in the face of something that, at the time, seems insurmountable. “The Silent Dark” runs 9:28, and it’s back into the murk, with cloudy melodies, expressive singing, and a serious downer of a sentiment, especially when Kuhr wallows, “I’ve created my own hell/what a fitting place for my end.” The song is riddled with guilt and self-doubt, and as the track reaches its conclusion, those emotions boil over with metallic intensity. “Animus” goes back to heavier and more dangerous waters, with vicious growls on verses leading to sweeping vocals on the chorus. The words are revenge-minded, and the pace of the song matches that blood-dripping anger perfectly. “Unrest” has the same sentiment, as it’s quaking and monstrous, and that leads into a brief state of calm with the acoustic-dressed interlude “Scorpius.” Then it’s into the steely finale “The Memory Room,” another song that’s awash in prog and power metal, and it’s an introspective, interesting track that ends the record on a high note. “I can see your soul through these eyes,” he wails, as the band offers up a surging, creative final journey that puts a gigantic exclamation point at the end of this tremendous album.

Novembers Doom doesn’t need to compare resumes with anyone, as they’ve been one of the finest, most consistent members of the United States doom movement. But this record is a stunner, one that fans of this genre should go out of their way to hear, as well as those who like prog-minded power and death metal. It’s great to hear the band pushing themselves, and the emotions, so hard on “Bled White,” and this should make their audience even hungrier to see them play on tour to hear how these songs develop and destroy in the live setting.

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