Gathered in 1989 in the Chicago area, this death/doom metal machine has been going strong ever since. Aphotic is the group’s eighth full-length release on The End Records. Despite large number of line-up changes Paul Kuhr remains a strong constant and a dynamic lyricist. The latest of these changes reunites the band with drummer Sasha Horn in 2008 and Mike Feldman coming on late in 2009 as their new bassist. Can this mix of old and new members mesh with the constant force that is Kuhr?
Aphotic opens on eerie strings of a violin but builds quickly on thunderous riffs that become accentuated vocally by the best growler in death metal, Paul Kuhr. This opening track, “The Dark Host”, is nothing short of haunting. The melodic interlude complimented by gentle guitars do nothing short of build a sense of true fear as the storm returns and we are reminded why this album is titled Aphotic, and why we should be very afraid. Aphotic is a term used to describe something that can grow in the absence of light, and the lyrics sure tell this story and the music is so complimentary we are left to ask what is growing in the blackness enveloping us. “Harvest Scythe”, easily one of the best tracks on this release, both musically and lyrically perfectly compliments the opening track. The chorus in and of itself builds such a sense of foreboding and despair to this release. The weave of melodic and brutal in this song is nothing short of glorious. In short these first two tracks demonstrate that the team of Feldman and Horn provide the perfect canvas for Kuhr, Roberts, and Marchese to paint upon.
“Of Age and Origin” parts 1 and 2 collectively come in at a weighty eight minutes. Every minute better than the last, beat after beat, growl after growl, riff after riff this song soldiers through what can only be described as metal carnage. After the music is said and done on this track with carnage in their blood Novembers Doom explains to us what is kept in the box. Six Sides tells the story of something growing in a box presumably without light. The musical interpretation of the lyrics or the lyrical interpretation of the music is pure genius. The alpha to omega concept in this song easily makes this one of the best tracks on the album. The vocal weaving into the threads of the music have formed track of pure raw emotion. With the alpha being “she once told me the box is where it lives” carrying through to the omega of “I once told her the box is where it died” and the path in-between is the perfect weave of guitars, beat, and vocal intonation. Lyrically this is one of the best releases of the year and the sycophantic music gives life to a truly great beast of an album.
Kuhr and company seem to get better and better and Apotic is no exception. Novembers Doom has given us a darkly haunting metal masterpiece this time out. Both the music and lyrics weave a truly haunting tapestry of metal genius. Especially clever is the mix of fast and brutal with slow and melodic. This was done in all the right places giving the ebb and flow of tides of raw emotion. There is certainly something growing in the absence of light and it is the metal filled soul known as Novembers Doom.