Released by: Massacre Records
Release Date: January 25th, 2013
Genre: Progressive metal
Alexander Göhs – Vocals
Markus A. Bader – Guitar
Markus Maichel – Keyboards
Markus Berger – Guitar & Bass
Christian Eichlinger – Drums
1. Birds Of Passage (Caught in a Dream)
2. The Lone and Level Sands
3. Beautifully Broken
4. The Day That Bled
5. Shores of Time
7. November Red (In Praise of Dreams)
Reviewing albums can be a terrific and enriching experience, but at the same time, it can be a terrible curse. You have the (much too frequent) utterly boring and uneventful albums that you wish you never exposed your ears to (look for that in an upcoming review), but then you have the opposite: a band which you didn’t know anything about that really surprises you and sweeps you off your feet. Such was the case for with the German progsters of Dante and their 3rd studio album titled November Red, their first album since being signed to Massacre Records, a record label which I usually enjoy most of their signings and Dante doesn’t escape this trend. As such, I I thank the label for bringing such a killer band to my ears.
As I didn’t know the band prior to this album, I can’t speak for their previous releases but November Red really surprised the heck out of me. I expected a half-decent album of progressive metal and what I got is the first great progressive metal of 2013. From the go, what surprised me is the wonderfully clear production. Then, the first few minutes of the lengthy (10 minutes) opening track “Birds of Passage” brought some nice, heavy riffing and the biggest surprise so far: the voice of Alexander Göhs. While the rest of the band is most definitely comprised of great musicians, Göhs is the one that floored me. He’s definitely not another James LaBrie. He’s on the far end of having a nasal tone; his main register is quite low but still powerful and has a healthy bit of grit and gruffness, which brings a bit of freshness from the syrupy male vocalists I’m used to in progressive rock/metal. He definitely has that “rocking” sound to his voice, which I really enjoy.
What about the music, then? Well, it’s really quite great! Progressive music can be a really trying, mind-numbingly boring experience of overbearing technicality but the guys of Dante manage to steer clear of this trap which a lot of progressive bands fall into. It’s still progressive metal and you’ll definitely get some soloing and a lot of instrumental segments but they always stay quite musical and melodic and they don’t fall into the “ugh, just get it on with the song, already!” category, as some detractors of Dream Theater would likely say. The end result makes November Red a focused, enjoyable album of progressive metal from start to finish.
Let’s get a bit more into the songs, shall we? As I said before, the album opens with a 10 minutes long piece in “Birds of Passage” which I really dig. It’s progressive metal by the numbers, with some good use of dynamics and tempo shifts. What brings it up a notch is the insanely catchy chorus, where Alexander belts out some powerful, soaring notes which I really like. The man’s voice may be low and a bit on the gruff and gritty side but he still can belt out some powerful notes. The following track, “The Lone and Level Sands” twists things around and brings some very heavy chugging riffs and a toned up heaviness. I found that heaviness quite a nice change of pace and I wish more progressive metal bands made use of heaviness that way. Once again, a ridiculously catchy chorus makes the song quite memorable to me. Just to destabilize the listener and to contrast with the heaviness of the previous song, “Beautifully Broken” is a beautiful piano-driven piece which reminds me of what Opeth used to do with their acoustic pieces. This one has a few spoken samples which I couldn’t quite hear well but they don’t take from the song. What surprised me however is the use of a female vocalist making a short appearance and sounding really awesome, at that. It reminds me a bit of what Evergrey did with Carina Englund making a few appearances here and there. She made those songs highlights for me and the same can be said of the female vocalist (which sadly is unknown to me) appearing on “Beautifully Broken”.
After that we get into another lengthy, dark epic in “The Day That Bled”. This song is quite moody and ominous-sounding, especially in its awesome chorus that is as catchy as the previous ones, which at this point, it makes me wonder if the band does that deliberately. Either way, I dig it. There’s a bit of use of start/stop riffing here and there on this song, as well. The keyboards here sound quite old-school, like something you’d hear from classic 70s prog. After that is “Shores of Time”, another heavy number with a bit of an increased tempo which I found quite enjoyable and has Alexander bringing out more of his powerful soaring vocals. An incredible chorus is on that song, perhaps the best on here. The other more laid back number follows in “Allan”. It’s not quite as quiet and mellow as “Beautifully Broken” is but it’s more of a progressive rock number rather than having the metal edge of some other tracks onNovember Red. Still a very good song, though. Speaking of “November Red”, the title track is the closing one here and it’s another good one full of melody and mood swings and a great overall atmosphere. It brings the album to its end with the longest song, clocking in at just below 13 minutes and ending the album an hour later. While I usually would say the majority of albums above 50 minutes have a few fillers and get on the tedious side, November Redfeels right at 61 minutes and I don’t feel exhausted afterwards. Actually, I just want to play “Shores of Time” again because I love that song so damn much!
So in the end, I discovered a new band and in the momentum of enjoying November Red so much, I’m looking forward to hear their previous albums, 2010’s Saturnine and 2008’s The Inner Circle. If you’re into progressive metal and can’t stand high pitch nasal vocalists like James LaBrie, I highly recommend lending an ear to Dante and their latest offering. Hopefully, you’ll come out of it feeling as enlightened as I did.
Written by Chris Auclair