WORDS: Eddie Sims
It must be hard for a group of kids to be dubbed THE band to watch. Instead of being able to quietly chip away at their music and touring free of pressure they’re instead stared intently upon by the whole scene as they wait to hear the fruits of their labour. Imagine how nerve racking that must be. But then again, if you’re anything like France’s NOVELISTS then really, you really wouldn’t nothing to worry about, nor would you give a rat’s ass about the pressure. After slaving for two and a half years over this, their debut Souvenirs, NOVELISTS are on the teetering on the edge of a meteoric rise.
Much like the scene leader NORTHLANE’s stellar sophomore Singularity, Souvenirs comes out swinging. However, instead of wildly flailing, it’s a technically sound and orchestrated assault, leaving no assumption from the get go that this album is going to be anything less than technically superb as Inanimate bleeds into the heavy groove of Earth Grazer and proceeds to pummel your ears without mercy. It’s only when Gravity kicks in do you learn that there is far more than meets the eye to NOVELISTS. If the intelligently structured metalcore rhythms and the polyrhythmic beatdowns doesn’t do it for you then perhaps the soaring melodic intersections generously peppered throughout the album might take your fancy or rather the emotive and sweeping guitar solos, and these are truly lifting sections of music. Utilising their eight string guitars for more than brute force, the melodic chord progressions coupled with Matt Gelsomino’s stellar vocal performance create ambiences that are both vital and uplifting.
Having members who have worked together on previous bodies of work is probably an ideal situation for most new bands and probably contributes to how tight and well realised this album is and sounds. The effortless balance of both the tremendously heavy and epic melodies is commendable, because these are easily some of the most cohesive metalcore compositions since KILLSWITCH ENGAGE’s End of Heartache. Each song bathes in its own identity and sits comfortably in its place on the record, which feels almost like a story, with a carved out beginning, middle and end, culminating in The Lichtenburg Figure playing the album out in with enough vigour and drive it makes it damn near impossible to not immediately press the replay button.
So, ultimately, are the accusations of greatness built on anything more that hype? Do NOVELISTS have a solid foundation in the form of a good debut to build a career on? The answer is indredible simple and easy. Yes. These guys have created a debut that most would struggle to create three albums in. It’s an incredible feet what’s been created with Souvenirs, as the perfect balance of sounds is intertwined with a jaw dropping technical ability and a genuine and heartfelt vocal delivery. From the deepest depths of the heaviest breakdown to the final, shining note of the glistening and intricate guitar solos Souvenirs is probably the best debut of the year and also the perfect starting place for these French lads to build their empire from.
Souvenirs is set for release on November 13th via Nuclear Blast Records.