Novembers Doom (no apostrophe) are an American death/doom band from Chicago, Illinois. Characterized by their atmospheric yet riff-heavy compositions, introspective lyrics, and the instantly recognizable one-man Soprano and Gravel vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr, they have been a band for almost three decades, making them one of the longest-running American death/doom bands. While not as successful as some of their peers, they have garnered a very devoted cult following over the years in many parts of the world, and are known for having one of the most devoted fanbases in underground metal.
The band was formed in 1989 under the name Laceration. They began as a more straightforward death metal band, but changed to their current name in 1992 as their sound evolved to incorporate more doom metal elements, as they felt it would fit their sound better. Their debut release was a two-track EP entitled Ripping Avulsion, which was their only finished recording with their original name and was eventually re-released as the last two songs on their debut album Amid Its Hallowed Mirth, which came out in early 1995 to positive reviews. Garnering comparisons to European death-doom acts such as Paradise Lost, the group decided to take a break to add more melody and outside influences to their sound in order to diverge from their competition. This resulted in their sophomore album Of Sculptured Ivy & Stone Flowers, which received near-universal acclaim and is often regarded as not only the band's best album, but one of the best albums in the death/doom genre, period.
Following up on the success of their second album, they released their third record The Knowing less than two years later in late 2000, continuing in the same vein as its predecessor while also featuring slightly more frequent clean vocals from vocalist Paul Kuhr and minor symphonic elements. Their fourth album To Welcome the Fade was released in 2002, adding more atmospheric songwriting and strong gothic metal influences, resulting in their most emotionally raw record up until that point. 2005's The Pale Haunt Departure marked a minor but significant change to their musical direction, featuring more polished production, crunchier riffs, and faster tempos, resulting in a more traditional death metal sound, but still keeping doom metal elements such as baritone clean vocal sections.
Since then, the band have continued to experiment with different influences while still keeping to their roots, releasing a further five albums from the late 2000s to 2010s. To showcase their death metal side a little more, Paul Kuhr and former guitarist Steve Nicholson reunited to form a side project called These Are They, and the former also has a progressive metal band called Subterranean Masquerade. He also provided the growls for the EP In Mournings Symphony by the group Em Sinfonia, a side project of Broken Hope guitarist Brian Griffin. In addition to his work in the band, Paul is also a freelance designer, and has designed cover art and album layouts for many other death metal bands, including Jungle Rot, Gorguts, Necrophagia, Monstrosity, and Macabre.
In 2007, they published an autobiography entitled Novembers Doom: The Wayfaring Chronicles, which also contained explanations for the lyrics of all of their songs up until that point.
- Paul Kuhr - vocals (1992-present)
- Larry Roberts - guitar, additional vocals (1999-present)
- Vito Marchese - guitar (2003-present)
- Mike Feldman - bass (2009-present)
- Garry Naples - drums (2011-present)
Notable former members:
- Chris Wisco - bass (2007-2009)
- Sasha Horn - drums (1999, 2008-2011)
- Amid Its Hallowed Mirth (1995)
- Of Sculptured Ivy & Stone Flowers (1999)
- The Knowing (2000)
- To Welcome the Fade (2002)
- The Pale Haunt Departure (2005)
- The Novella Reservoir (2007)
- Into Night's Requiem Infernal (2009)
- Aphotic (2011)
- Bled White (2014)
- Hamartia (2017)
- Nephilim Grove (2019)
Tropes that apply to the band, their music, and its members:
- Artifact Title: Kuhr has repeatedly stated in interviews that despite their name, they are not strictly a death/doom band. The group themselves identify their genre as "dark metal", due to their musical influences expanding well beyond their sound's death/doom roots. Kuhr once said that he described the band when it was formed as a "cross between Grave, Celtic Frost, and The Doors", and that they have not been a "pure" death/doom band since their first album.
- Big Fun: Paul was a very large guy for much of the band's career. That was, until the gap between Aphotic and Bled White, when he lost a staggering 185 pounds. This incredibly dramatic weight loss made him so unrecognizable that some fans who saw the band live genuinely thought he had been replaced until they heard him sing. Reportedly, he lost the weight only by eating less sugar and carbs and getting exercise by taking a walk every day until he shed off 100 pounds.
- Epic Rocking: Quite often. All of their albums bar Into Night's Requiem Infernal have at least one song between 7 and 9 minutes, and the vast majority of their songs are no shorter than 5 minutes.
- Death Metal: Death/doom, to be exact. Which one is emphasized more depends wholly on the song.
- Gothic Metal: Incorporates elements of this from time to time. Unsurprising, as the genre more or less evolved directly from death/doom.
- I Am the Band: Paul Kuhr, more or less, is Novembers Doom. Ever since the band's first recording, he has been the only member to appear on all releases; the second-longest remaining member, guitarist Larry Roberts, joined in 1999, around the time of their sophomore album. Their latest album Hamartia is their only album to have the same lineup as their previous.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally 9, sometimes going down to 8 or up to 10 depending on the growl-to-clean ratio of the vocals. Their handful of ballads are in the 3 range.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Death/doom, melodeath, prog, and gothic metal all rolled into one.
- New Sound Album: Many:
- Of Scultpured Ivy & Stone Flowers added more melody and layers to their sound, in a successful attempt to distance themselves from the fairly typical death/doom sound of their first album.
- To Welcome the Fade was more spacey and had the most Gothic Metal elements of all their releases.
- The Pale Haunt Departure was faster and more riff-heavy with less frequent cleans, resulting in a sound closer to straight death metal or melodic death metal, which was carried over to the next two albums.
- Aphotic introduced Progressive Metal influences by way of more complex time signatures and a multi-part song.
- Bled White featured a significant increase in clean vocals, resulting in the ratio between growls and singing to around 50/50, which was expanded a slight bit more on Hamartia, which became their most melodic and least death metal-sounding album yet. This is continued on Nephilim Grove, albeit more along the level of Bled White.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: They typically have one or two songs per album with entirely clean vocals, oftentimes a ballad, that is far softer than the majority of their catalog. A few examples are "What Could Have Been" from Aphotic, and "In Memories Past" from The Knowing. This also applies to both Bled White and Hamartia as a whole, both featuring far more frequent clean vocals compared to past releases.