Italy's Novembre have been plying their atmospheric death doom style since 1993 and after a long period of inactivity since their last effort, 'The Blue', the band make a welcome return with 'Ursa'. The band's seventh full-length studio album is a classic mix of epic, poignant and always atmospheric doom metal. The title of the album, 'URSA', come from an acronym meaning “Union des Républiques Socialistes Animales” (which was the title initially chosen for the French translation of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’), hints at the more outwardly aimed subject matter of the album. The album sees Carmelo Orlando begin to draw inspiration from the world around him and mans indifference to the disaster we are heading for.
The album opens in spectacular form with the near eight-minute long 'Australis' which sees the band blend the best of their abilities into one sumptuous opener that sets the bar high for the rest of the album. Thankfully the likes of 'The Rose', 'Easter', 'URSA', 'Agathae', and the (just as stunning as the opener) 'Fin', which closes the album, continue this strong start through the rest of the album. Soaring guitars, thunderous rhythms, delicate clean vocals and death vocals, playfully blend light and dark, heavy and melodic throughout the songs with ease.
The production has a definite progressive rock edge to it. There are strong swirling ambient elements that slither through the rock and metal instrumentation to create a trippy sense of space on every song. The album feels vast in its melodies and crushing in its heaviness. It is equal parts hope and despair expressed in sound.
The album is a spectacular return from a band that has been sorely missed in the doom metal scene. Novembre are on top form and 'URSA' is a fitting new addition to an already impressive back catalogue that promises a lot more to come. Long-time fans should undoubtedly great it with enthusiasm and it should also convert a new wave of fans as well. Worth the wait.