November’s Doom are a band that I feel need no real introduction, as they’ve been making dark and depressing doom/death for three decades now. Nephilim Grove is the title of their latest disc, which combines their heaviest, most death metal charged work with their more light-hearted approaches and even a few unique bells and whistles. “Petrichor” begins on a very different note, as it almost feels like Paul Kuhr is channeling his inner Testament. Instead of thick growls, I’m hearing a sort of southern drawl infused shout which soons rolls right into more traditional territory in lieu of cleaner notes. There’s even a slight bit of ambience as one of several guitar solos makes itself known. “The Witness Marks” begins with a bit of downtuned technicality, thankfully rolling into familiar classic death metal landscapes. There’s a wonderful chorus from Kuhr here as well as pleasantly punchy growls. I’m reminded a lot of The Pale Haunt Departure on this one and it would almost feel right at home on that particular recording. So nice blast from the past, guys. I’m just going to ignore those pretentious overused bass riffs though. There are too many bands doing that kind of thing these days and I grow tired of it. Thankfully, title track “Nephilim Grove” adds some new flavor to the mix, as gentle acoustics soon become adrenaline fueled melodies, reminding me heavily of the title track from The Novella Reservoir. There’s definitely a lot of album revisiting on this one, which makes sense as the band have made it a sort of commemorative statement on their tenure as a band, which spans a whopping thirty years. Next step would be to get some of those older albums remastered and reissued. I’d love to hear a remastered version of Of Sculptured Ivy and Stone Flowers.
“What We Become” sounds more like The Knowing, which was a very introspective album for me growing up. I guess it was one my early black pills, as it were. There are some very deep songs on that album, and it really hit me hard in some areas. Sure, “What We Become” has a poppy nature to it, but let’s be honest – this is a far more mature approach than what I hear on the radio from day to day at work. It shows that a song can still be very heavy, contain a momentous solo moment and still be very romantic, if not a bit forlorn. It sounds very personal, as some of the best songs often are. “Adaigo” starts off a little like Slayer’s “Dead Skin Mask” which is kind of interesting. The song soon rolls back and forth between light and heavy moments until it throws in an air of ambience. The ambience here almost sounds a little spacey, as a completely unexpected guitar solo comes out of nowhere – and a grand one at that. “Black Light” is a bit similar to the other tracks and I didn’t feel that it really stood out that much, but it is still a good song and I wouldn’t exactly call it filler. It just has a familiar death metal with clean vocal sections feel, running into a guitar solo. “The Clearing Blind” is altogether different as it echoes the clean vocal focused “What We Become” but has a much different feel in the fact that it is less poppy and feels more like the band. “Still Wrath” comes in a little heavier as it opens with clean vocals and then brings the death growls in a bit, placing a fair chorus number in a few areas. It doesn’t quite hit as well for me, but taste is obviously subjective. I love the effect at the end of the piece, though. The album closes with a return to the Testament style shouts of the album’s opener, this time in “The Obelus.” There is an interesting melodic chug at work here as well, making for what seems to be a faster paced piece overall. The latter end of the piece is where it really gets interesting, as a slew of death metal injections are had almost in an experimental manner.
The disc also contains two piano renditions of “What We Become” (though I prefer the heavy one) and “The Clearing Blind” as bonuses. I would have preferred covers, but it’s fine. I won’t necessarily judge these as I don’t feel they’re a necessary part of the album. All in all, I feel that November’s Doom have crafted a rather solid album here in Nephilim Grove and there are many great songs to add to an already impressive collection. Though like I’ve said, it may be a good time to start remastering and reissuing the early material. We have a lot of new ears in the world for this kind of music and they may be rather impressed by the band’s old days.