By: Todd Naevestad
I feel that there is an unspoken contract between musicians and listeners when we pick up their albums. We promise to give it the time and attention it deserves and they promise to not squander that time. While what this can mean varies from person to person, I feel we can all agree that it shouldn’t feel like an album is wasting our time. This brings me to Legends, the new album from Novareign. While there are some sparkling elements to it, I find that their time management is lacking heavily.
Going against my usual formula, I’m going to talk about the negatives first; mainly because everything else, even what I liked about the album, sits firmly on this foundation. Novareign does not respect the listeners time. Legends is an hour and three minutes long with four songs longer than seven minutes and only one less than five. I’ve said before that I’m all for long songs. Getting lost in the world that the musicians are creating for an extended period is a great feeling, no doubt. But it’s a tricky act to pull off and if you do it wrong, the music just drags on. That’s the problem here. The songs are long, but they don’t keep my attention through it. There are many sections in individual tracks that are just repeating the same musical themes from earlier, with no variation. They tend to act as time-fillers, linking more interesting sections together, like guitar solos or the next vocal push. They’re basically white-noise at that point. Sometimes the song structure makes me think that they just happened to spill some lyrics into their instrumental metal, or some instrumental into their vocal tracks. And speaking of vocals, I’m a little torn on the work of David Marquez. His voice struck me as something that would be more at home in a punk band like Go Radio or A Day to Remember. It’s not a bad fit, necessarily, and some of the songs that are higher-pitched with more wailing he kills it on. But sometimes it comes across as metal whining rather than a powerful instrument of metal. This one will be more up to personal taste.
As much as I criticize the length, I don’t want to take away from the times when it does shine. In-between the stretches of musical nothing, there are some awesome guitar solos. They’re fun to listen to with an almost ludicrous aura to them that really makes it feel like the musicians were having fun playing it. They transition well between instruments as well. A song might start with some heavy drums before a vocal solo cuts it off and is then accompanied by a guitar matching the musical feel. There’s some clever structuring to a few tracks and I would love to see more of that.
This is Novareign’s first full-length album, and I think it shows. They try to do a lot with their album and pack each song with as much as they can. However, that attempt leaves the album feeling bloated and forgettable. I would like to see them trim the fat, focusing on the parts that they do really well, and being okay with shorter but better songs. I don’t want to listen to Legends again, but I would still like to see how Novareign matures going forward.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Recommendations: Iced Earth, Skarlett Riot, Corrosion of Conformity