Under The Influence #75: Inner Circles on “Materia” by Novembre!

Known as one of Italy’s most eclectic and prolific Metal outfits, Novembre have been working their way through the maddening crowds since the early 90’s as the brainchild of guitarist and vocalist Carmelo Orlando, who up until a hiatus at the end of the touring cycle for their 2007 album “The Blue” was joined by his brother and fearless drummer Giuseppe. The band had always been a revolving door of musicians and so when they returned in 2016 with “Ursa” via Peaceville Records it was no surprise to find the band with fresh line up.

John O’Kelly from Inner Circles comments: “About 15 years ago or so, I went to see Katatonia live in London. I had no idea who the supporting act were, and would not have cared if there had been no supporting act at all. Then Novembre hit the stage but the sound, up at the front at least, was not particularly clear so I couldn’t fully make out the music. However, there was something about it that grabbed my attention. It was the overall feeling of melancholy the music was creating. After the gig, I headed straight to the merch table and asked for the latest Novembre album. This turned out to be “Materia”. I remember, on first listen, it did not hit me. I gave it a couple of listens a day for about a week or so and still, nothing. I couldn’t quite understand what it was that I wasn’t getting. On paper, this sounded like music I absolutely would love, but, it just wasn’t reaching me. It was maybe a few months later I decided to give it another spin and all of a sudden it hit me. I finally got it. I could now feel the intent, feel where the climaxes were, feel why the vocals were so dreary at times. This album really started growing on me to the point I was listening from start to finish numerous times a day. I couldn’t get enough of it and it seemed like with each listen, I was noticing something new, some new background guitar that I missed before. On reflection, I believe the reason I didn’t quite get it at first was that it was not a songwriting style I had been exposed to before. Many of the tracks on the album did not have obvious verses and choruses. The style of songwriting was more progressive than I was used to. The songs would have many different sections that would be in some way related to one another. Another reason it may not have hit me at first is that the music is quite busy. It wasn’t just two guitars and a vocal but many overdubs, harmonies, guitars in the background. It was a lot to take in.

This album made me think about my own songwriting. I wanted to explore different ways to compose music; try to move outside of the verse, chorus, verse formula at times and see what I could come up with. It inspired me want to experiment more with subtle overdubs in the background, not necessarily obvious, but you would miss them if they weren’t there. I began to have a look at the types of chords I was using in my own music and experimented with extended chords and chord voicings that I had not used before. The track “Reason”, although not my favourite track on the album, had some very interesting chords that caught my attention and I remember transcribing them to try figure out what they were and why they worked. I was influenced by Materia to explore different emotions in a heavy rock or metal context. In some ways, I had been afraid to pitch melancholic sounding ideas to metal bands I was in. I thought it would be poorly received by band members. Materia is a very melancholic album throughout and it goes from depressive to a more pleasant melancholy plus everything in-between. This helped me to embrace the melancholic ideas I had and try to work them into a metal context. I started to develop a sound that I was happier with, I was able to express emotions I was feeling within a metal context. This is one of Novembre’s lighter albums, although it is still a heavy album. The follow up album, The Blue, was quite a bit heavier and brought back the growl vocals that were very sparse on Materia

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