On Hallelujah, the rapid stylistic changes might feel like being blown about on the high seas, but you’ll be happy to have The Novembers as your captain.
Artist: The Novembers
In 2005, Boris discovered something profound with the song “Farewell” off of their iconic album Pink: Enormous, jaw-dropping fuzz bass doesn’t just belong with metal. That huge, warm enveloping sound is sonic propellant. It pushes the mid-range and treble heavenward, making heaviness celestial. The Novembers, whose formation was not too far off from the release of Pink, take more than a few cues from Boris. The opener rides a crest of beautifully gnarly bass, twinkly guitars, and tenor vocals. Hallelujah indeed.
In the next song, and lead single, “黒い虹” (“Black Rainbow”) the band does little to dispel the Boris comparisons. It is a full-on, full-throttle Harleys-in-the-air rager. But where Boris always sounded like Motorhead lovers trying to gargle shards of harsh noise, “黒い虹” makes The Novembers sound like Boris lovers with keen pop sensibilities. They’re not so much a metal band reaching popward but a pop band reaching metalward.
As the album wears on, the Novembers bring even more surprises. On”美しい火” (“Beautiful Fire”) the band opens the song like they are going to go full-on post-punk. After all, their last album, Elegance dropped heaviness altogether and was a great collection of dark goth rockers. But as the song goes on, instead of getting noisy, it gets eclectic. First there’s a major does of strings, then what’s that? A horn section comes in, just like an indie-pop band channeling a vague notion of the seventies. Metal alternating with post-punk is a solid marriage. Baroque indie-pop makes for an unexpectedly pleasant mistress.
The album carousels through these styles song-by-song as it goes on. But it’s really in the last two songs that the picture becomes clear. The band bring in the fuzz-bass, the post-punk, the baroque indie-pop, and starts gazing at their shoes. Lesser bands would get lost in the muddle, but these last two songs make for a perfect end to the journey.
On first glance, the Novembers may sound like they’re standing in the shadow of Boris, but the unexpected twists and genuinely lovely elements on Hallelujah make the Novembers a great band in their own right.