Genre: Progressive Metalcore
Review by Steve Jenkins
One of the most highly anticipated progressive metalcore album ever is now here and it's absolutely wonderful in every sense of the word. French band, Novelists, have crafted something beautiful that also packs a punch and they've executed every fantastic elements very well, honing in on their own sound and fusing the heavy sounds and the atmospheric to create a stellar follow up to their 2015 album, Souvenirs.
Novelists have become masters at showcasing their capabilities of mixing crushing breakdowns with atmospheric touches without sounding forced. Noir is an album that is equal parts crushing and haunting without sounding overdone. From the get-go, the listener is introduced to the sort of music Novelists want to play; heavy, chunky, head-banging, djent-influenced prog metal. But without sounding too clichéd, Novelists do it differently. Their ability to create songs that go from bordering on full-blown djent, to quickly taking a breather and having an atmospheric passage, only to ramp the speed back up again is something of beauty and, well, fun. "L'Appel du Vide" is a good example of this, starting off with a slow pace, building up and becoming heavy, only to slow down for a brief moment and hastily pick itself back up and give a satisfying conclusion.
It has to be said that the instrumentals and vocalists deserve praise as well. The guitar work is both catchy and pleasing, never feeling forced or overdone, and provide a good amount of exciting solos. The use of breakdowns isn't exactly sparse, but they never feel out of place, fitting perfectly between verses and atmospheric breaks in songs such as "Under Different Welkins." Additionally, the drums do what is needed of them and then some, adding that extra bit of flair and flashiness to top off the guitar work. Vocals, although not entirely unusual or special for the genre, still add a lot to the songs. Clean vocals soar and flow when needed, and harsh vocals have a perfect mix of ferocity and tone to give each song that little extra punch. Although at times the vocals feel drowned out in the mix, they still hold their own and sound much better than their previous album, not that they were ever bad.
Regardless of its place in the genre, Novelists have crafted a very good album and an impressive sophomore, mixing crunchy guitars and atmosphere to near perfection, whilst maintaining the catchy qualities of both. The rise-fall nature of each song, along with complex guitar and drum work, and an impressive vocal performance help Novelists rise above the rest. Truth is, where the hell do they go from here? And what can they do next to completely blow people away? I'm excited to see.
7.5 out of 10.
Noir is out now via Sharptone Records / Arising Empire.
Check out the official video for the track "A Bitter End" below: