Review – Novallo: Novallo II

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  • Bio: "Novallo is a 5-piece progressive metal band hailing from Columbus, Ohio." - Bandcamp
  • Label: Self-release
  • Release Date: September 25th, 2015
  • Genre: Djent, Electronica, Progressive Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Columbus, Ohio’s Novallo actually formed way back in 2006, but it wasn’t until recently that they had entered the studio to unleash some recorded material. The progressive metal act released their debut EP, Novallo I, at the start of September in 2012, quite a few years since the band was first created. Since then, they had been honing their sound and gravitating towards more of what many consider to be an experimental sound that mixed together a stronger electronica presence coupled with funk, jazz, modern rock, and even some pop tendencies to the original largely djent foundation. The outcome is their self-released (and long overdue) follow-up EP titled Novallo II. But does this new approach try to cram too much into one brief recording, or is this a reimagining that greatly dwarfs their fairly standard debut?

One of the distinctive elements of Novallo‘s music is their electronica/djent approach, which sounds far better this time around. The guitars have more of a digitized sound to them that plays up the various wonderous and soothing atmospheres one might find a Jolly or even Coheed and Cambria album. The higher pitched clean singing also meshes well with the digital environments, as well as the heavier, burdening segments that come through from time to time, such as in “Sideways Bird”. The slight mechanized distortion present dirties up the main verses and some of the bridges, while the cleaner electronics come through like glimmering stars in the background, establishing more of a science fiction environment that would nicely compliment an Isaac Asimov narrative, or even an early Mega Man video game title or anime.

“Give Gravity a Choice” progresses at a slower pace at first, introducing more of a rock presence in the music that pulls the deep bass guitar and crisp drum kit forward to gradually build towards a more powerful chorus that doesn’t quite hit the way you’d expect. Instead, the listener is greeted with something a little more vibrant, though still as moving as it is soothing in a manner reminiscent of Cynic. But, as you approach four minutes, the tempo does change-up, as does the effect on the synths that plays up more a sleek darkness with additional emotion thrown in briefly. The chorus, however, ends up an interesting mixture of gloominess through the bass guitar heavy presence of the riffs, clashing between somber and sobering in a way that doesn’t quite work out to the flow of an otherwise superb performance.

Novallo

But what really sticks out on Novallo II are the songs that could easily adorn the soundtrack of an early Nintendo or Super Nintendo Entertainment System title. The glimmering darkness of “I AM” brings a stunning noir presence that would work well on a Ninja Gaiden cartridge, crossed with some quieted Michael Jackson-like lyric delivery in the main verses that works perfectly until the chorus kicks up a slight disco The Bunny The Bear vibe and replaces that hushed vocal style with a more enthusiastic one. Meanwhile you have “White Phoenix” and it’s heavy .midi influence right out the gate. The synths present a higher pitched eight-bit gaming quality score that is carried into the main verses in the guitar work. It’s also one of the most upbeat ones due to some of the jazz and progressive rock elements thrown into the mix by two minutes in.

Novallo II not only stands as a much more vibrant sounding and adventurous effort compared to their darker 2012 EP, but one that offers more than just some standard djent riffs with a progressive metal shine waxed on top of it, speaking greatly of the talent and potential found within this four piece act. While just over twenty-two minutes, Novallo make this new outing an experience all its own that seems to naturally go on much longer than the time limit restricts it to, pulling you into a sleek, refined world that skirts the line in and out of noir with ease, leaving behind an addicting collection of like-minded songs that will have you coming back over and over again. Novallo essentially reinvent themselves with Novallo II, giving fans of the band or the style in general a nice little addicting treat to wrap 2015 up on that will leave anyone who enjoys solid musicianship and catchy as hell performances anxiously awaiting the next release.

Novallo

Digital review copy of this release provided by Novallo via Dewar PR.