November's Doom - The Pale Haunt Departure - The End Records 2005
8 Songs
Running Time: 51:48

November's Doom hail from Chicago, which is a Historical Metal Site, being also the birthplace of American doom royalty, Trouble. That's about where the comparison ends, though. Where Trouble's hymns of sadness had and have a certain psychedelic quality -especially in later years - November's Doom bring to mind a mixture of Shape Of Despair and a more risk-taking Paradise Lost. Think not that ND have forsaken their continental counterparts, because for all the European shadings to their music, The Pale Haunt Departure has a true American doom sensibility.

Tribalistic drums and subdued choral vocals kick off the title track, November's Doom taking the majesty and density of Euro-doom, and giving it a good old kick in the ass, creating a galloping riff reminiscent of Wino's work on The Church Within. Vocally, Paul Kuhr has always had a unmistakeable style, and he brings this to bear on 'The Pale Haunt Departure' to great effect. A deeper look at the liner notes reveals the participation of two metal luminaries, in Dan Swano's work on the mix, and the mastering of James Murphy. In listening to 'Swallowed By The Moon', the Swano's stamp is apparent, the keyboards being mixed at just the right level - neither overpowering nor supressed - and the guitars recalling Edge Of Sanity's underrated Inferno. The sound of November's Doom has grown lush over the years, but retains all the ferocity of their earlier more death-influenced material when the need arises. A quiet, finger-plucked intro begins 'Autumn Reflection', and returns throughout the verses of the song, and joins with the august riffing of the chorus to create a paean to a loved one who appears to be a source of strength for the song's character. The grandeur of this song cannot be described in words, and it deserves a listen. Textbook American doom with shadings of Lacrimas Profundere and Dark Tranquillity. If doom metal devotees were ever in need of an anthem, 'Dark World Burden' would do quite nicely. The song contains the best of both worlds - the forlorn subject matter of the saddened soul, coupled with music that could only have been written in tears. 'In The Absence Of Grace' kicks things back into gear, and is the song where echoes of the band's death-inspired past can be most heard. The guitar team of Larry Roberts and Vito Marchese does an admirable job in the double leads that can be found throughout The Pale Haunt Departure, calling to mind their fellow Chicagoans, Trouble in a way that few can. Maybe it's something in the Lake Michigan water...who knows? The 70s-tinged musical backdrop of 'The Dead Leaf Echo' is too quickly overtaken by a pounding doom progression, and it would be nice to have seen November's Doom stay with the melancholic material of the first verse through the song. Not that 'The Dead Leaf Echo' is a bad song, or that it suffers as a result of the more standard ND treatment. I think my main issue - small though it is - is that I was enjoying the introductory theme so much, I was disappointed to hear it come to an end so abruptly. It does return in an abbreviated interlude just before the last verse, so there is a bit of redemption. November's Doom is one of the few bands I could actually see pulling off an acoustic EP to great success, and the song 'Through A Child's Eyes' gives me everything I'd originally wanted of 'The Dead Leaf Echo', in it's Morgion-esque sense of British doom. The lead solo here is simply beautiful, and it's one I'll keep coming back to with no question. Closing song, 'Collapse Of The Fallen Throe' is misanthropic in the way of all doom, but weds to that misanthropy a menacing obsession and psychosis, giving the song a decidedly death-metal flavour (at least lyrically), and bringing to an end yet another solid effort from November's Doom.

It's been a long time and many miles down the tangled road of sadness for November's Doom, who've placed themselves in damn near the only metal sub-genre to never have a huge following in America. We likely will never see bands like ND or Khanate on Headbanger's Ball 2. But you know, I don't think those of us who bow at the altar of Black Sabbath on a daily basis really give a shit either way. As it stands, November's Doom have crafted an album that stands up against the classics, and looks boldly forward to the future, black as it may be.

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