*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #51 of the SBR Album of the Week.
Scream Blast Repeat remarked that Novere’s debut EP, Soulless Elements, ‘deserves a place on your headphones next time you wander outdoors to clear your head. It is, indeed, the thinking man’s metal.’ Fast forward two years, and the London post-metal quartet are the latest signing to the UK’s most prominent exponent of this type of music after penning a contract with Trepanation Recordings. Britain’s pre-eminent post-metal producer, Joe Clayton (Pijn), recorded the band’s debut album in Manchester. Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna mastered it. Clearly, Novere keep good company, but can they produce the goods?
Nothing Stays Hidden in Daylight is an existential meditation on lost love, despair, and addiction. It’s the sound in your head when the demons of your alter-ego try to drag you into their mischievous love of self-doubt. You might hear the pulsating rhythms and glimpse the brooding melodies as you would a train on the horizon. Its presence disturbs your equilibrium, yet its power and purpose leave you in awe as you watch it race through the countryside like a hungry juggernaut. Opener, ‘Hydra’, announces its existence with a sharp volume swell and a terrific burst of singular guitar riffing built upon the luminescence of sliding octave chords. The frothing vocals and crashing drums wait for thirty seconds before expanding the mix with their ruptures. You can hear the churning bass guitar incursions shadowing their louder cousins and waiting for the moment to reset the song with an upstroke of weighty movements. Tool’s dynamic strengths flourish like creatures swimming towards the light, yet the switch to a fragile tenor rumination from drummer, Voi, slows their herd-like impulses. Novere like to inject you with enhanced substances and then calm you with the antidote. This music utilises heavy guitars like the great grunge bands of the day before the template became something to dilute and reshape for radio. Not here. The slower doom metal moments throb in anguish; the effervescent dynamics gather strength like whirlpools sucking you into the void.
Novere excel in their more delicate moments. Emotions build up and look for release in the silhouette of clean guitar passages at the beginning of ‘Aphelion’. You can appreciate the beauty of the brooding voice phrasings as they threaten to break into a falsetto. Yet a dark shadow looms over the melodies. Shades of Cult of Luna and A Perfect Circle rear their head here as vocals switch from quiet laments to loud lashings of grief. Gushing high-gain distortions fizzle in the lower reaches of the mid-range guitar chords and ache like dislodged teeth. When Novere regroup and refuel, they do it like expeditionists with no map. How do we get from A to B through will power alone? The ritualistic drum patterns are often the answer. Here, they redirect the circuit of electricity rather than time its current. Guitarists, Matteo and Dave, channel their energies like firework testers.
You think ‘Danse Macabre’ will do the same. It’s the most traumatised of the compositions here. Simple clean guitar progressions shelter the vocals and allow them to ponder in the echo of a subtle reverb. Fans of Anathema’s Alternative 4 will recognise the poignancy of this song, yet you can hear guitar combinations surface like slower workings of ‘Black Planet’ by Sisters of Mercy. Nervous tension builds through the verses. An emotive bass guitar line mirrors the vocals of the third stanza. Intricate drum rhythms evolve as the volume levels intensify, and yet the eruption of distortion never arrives. It doesn’t need to. You could imagine Dead Can Dance writing something as animated as this in their heyday.
Perhaps the only criticism of this album is its length – you want more than thirty-five minutes of this catharsis. The opening bass to closing track, ‘Cromlech’, will make you extend your neck like a giraffe as you try to get under its groove. Like the best post-metal bands, Novere have a scintillating feel for rhythm. Guitars ease their way into the action with apprehensive arpeggio vibrations until they step on the distortion pedal at 02:25 and escape under the might of a grinding roar. Nine minutes and fifty-six seconds flash before your eyes and present the illusion of a rational understanding. But this thing is greater than you. It lives within you like an independent organ. Those that immersed themselves in Oceanic by Isis at the beginning of the century will recognise the fervency of high emotions and high-gain guitars.
“But the pain always stays the same,” screams Voi at the end. It’s a pain that can provide meaning in a world of broken promises and broken minds.
Release Date: 01/10/2023
Record Label: Trepanation Recordings
Standout tracks: Hydra, Cromlech
Suggested Further Listening: Cult of Luna – The Long Road North (2022), Kollaps\e – Phantom Centre (2023), Ahab – The Coral Tombs (2023)