It’s rare that a band that have been around the block and then some get legally challenged over their name but in the case of Parisian DJentlemen Novelists who were formed as long ago as 2012 by brothers Amael and Florestan Durand, that’s exactly what happened. Forced to re-brand as “Novelists FR” during a period of quiet from the band, things seemed not to be well in their camp. However, after the exit of guitarist Charles-Henri Teule in 2018 and single “Eyes Wide Shut“, which interestingly doesn’t appear on this third studio album, they have regrouped and have gone again. Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Nicolas Delestrade & Amael Durand at DNA Music Studio “C’est La Vie” or “It’s Life” seems to be a reference to that re-branding for their third studio effort or perhaps it’s just a nod to the lyrical subject matter held within. So what do vocalist Matteo Gelsomino, guitarist Florestan Durand, bassist Nicolas Delestrade and drummer Amael Durand have in store for us this time out?
Beginning with “Somebody Else”, a mix of Progressive riffs that bleed into a Math-Rock sound allowing the emotive Post-Hardcore vibe of Gelsomino’s lyrics to shine above their bright layers, it was the second single and perhaps a surprising choice for an opening track as it’s a thing of beauty this is normally saved for further into a release. “Deep Blue” brings more distortion to the guitars that are technically masterful and clearly Durand has Periphery as an influence, while having a life of it’s own with a typically Novelists melody encapsulated within it. Gelsomino raps the first verse of “Lilly” before bursting into rap screams that bring to mind Adam Jackson and Twelve Tribes as he creates the illusion of a trio of a separate vocalists appearing on the track as he goes dark and showcases a greater range and depth with some serious unclean vocal power. Durand lets loose with a couple of bright Progressive solos and the layering in the sound gives the depth of more than one guitar in the mix. As continuing the gradual progression into heavier material “Modern Slave” is a DJent rich cut which stands out as the heaviest point on the album to this point while not completely abandoning that sense of melody. That relies on the rhythm section holding down their part in proceedings and they do masterfully.
The album title track features a guest vocal appearance from Camille Contreras of Bliss Sigh who also appeared on “Alive” from “Fantasy” by Landmvrks and has some eclectic Jazz inspired moments as it plays out. Balancing off the heavier approach of “Modern Slave” with such a melodic ballad is a fine touch and the song is part serene and part troubled mind as it flows delicately through. Getting the best out of both vocalists by giving them both equal opportunity to shine as a solo voice and intertwining those vocals in parts is a wonderful approach. Far too many guest vocal appearances are simply a brief cameo these days, this is a proper collaboration.”Head Rush” is the partner to “C’est La Vie” and plays out like a sequel as it starts before picking up into some heavier riffs and unclean vocal parts. Whether the female voice in the background is Camille Contreras or not, it’s unaccredited and buried in the mix so you may not even notice it during the first few listens. One part Post-Hardcore, one part Math-Rock, one part Progressive Metal and one part DJent in equal measure, the track twists and turns like a knife before it’s eventual scream.
“Kings of Ignorance” was always going to be a heavier cut with Florent Salfati of Arising Empire label mates Landmvrks making a guest vocal appearance and it doesn’t fall short with a swathe of synths underpinning bouncy Progressive Tech-Metal riffs infused with DJent moments. We’re treated to rap screams and even a couple of bowel clenching guttural Deathcore roars. It’s one that will no doubt be a live favorite at shows to come. “Rain” sees Michael Hirst credited as a guest however there is a female vocalists who plays her part in places on this cut as well. An ambient quality to the background guitar work creates a foundation on which the Progressive Metal work is built on and again there is a Jazz quality to the solo on a song that aches with distant longing. The finale is “Human Condition” which sees Intervals guitarist Aaron Marshall lend his strings to the cause. In the context of the album, he’s an obvious choice and the pairing could see both bands share stages in the future as the results are magnificent. Gelsomino showcases the full range of his vocal talent mixing up the parts to what suits them best as he does throughout and what we’re left with is a highly polished set of songs that deserve to be heard on some decent size stages. Novelists have the talent and as a band that we’ve often thought of as being underrated or overlooked, they deserve your time [8/10]
1. Somebody Else
2. Deep Blue
4. Modern Slave
5. C’est La Vie (ft. Camille Contreras of Bliss Sigh)
6. Head Rush
7. Kings of Ignorance (ft. Florent Salfati of Landmvrks)
8. Rain (ft. Michael Hirst)
9. Human Condition (ft. Aaron Marshall of Intervals)
“C’est La Vie” by Novelists is out now and available over at bandcamp