More than capable of creating some first class material

When it comes to the death/doom genre, European bands like Katatonia, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Swallow the Sun come to mind.

But in the heartland of America, Chicago’s Novembers Doom have been proudly representing the genre for 20+ years and with their eighth and latest release, Aphotic, they show that they are more than capable of creating some first class material.

“The Dark Host” jumps out of nowhere with a dark, brooding, yet dynamic introduction to proceedings. The ballsy, chunky riffs paired with a slinking bassline and frantic drumwork paints a blackened musical picture and Paul Kuhr’s vocals give life to that vision as he combines his deep bellow with a clean, innocent vocal pattern during the middle section that could be seen as voices of the subject’s battling consciences.

Instead of a 50+ minute metal barrage, Aphotic ebbs and flows. There are the traditional heavy, bludgeoning cuts that Novembers Doom are known and loved for, like “The Dark Host”, “Harvest Scythe”, the two part mini-epic “Of Age and Origin” (featuring metal icon Dan Swanö) and the addictively captivating “Six Sides” that is a journey in itelf with some brutal riffs from Vito Marchese and Larry Roberts. The band also embraces melodic influences mixed with their traditional sound in “Buried” and “Shadow Play” that sit well against the full-on cuts.

In the middle of the album, they stray from their signature brutality, creating something quite different and outside the box in “What Could Have Been”, an Opeth-ish composition powered by acoustic guitars and a guest appearance from The Gathering’s Anneke Van Giersbergen. It is as haunting as their heavier material but with a chilling and delicate touch.

Despite not having the fanbase of their European counterparts, Novembers Doom work insanely hard and have delivered a solid release in Aphotic should garner them a share of their contemporaries’ followings while appeasing their own dedicated legion of fans.

1. The Dark Host
2. Harvest Scythe
3. Buried
4. What Could Have Been
5. Of Age and Origin – Pt 1. A Violent Day
6. Of Age and Origin – Pt 2. A Day of Joy
7. Six Sides
8. Shadow Play