In some ways, the music of Novembers Doom is guided by the band's desire to not be labeled as doom metal. Their last album, 2009's Into Night's Requiem Infernal, saw the band wading into entirely new waters, bringing in elements of stoner rock and psychedelic music, much to the chagrin of fans.
Eighth full-length, Aphotic, if not a return to form, is certainly the most consistent record the band has made in years. That's not to say it's boring or formulaic, though. There are enough twists and turns on this record to keep the listener interested all the way through. Those expecting to see the death-metal side of Novembers Doom may be a bit disappointed, although there are some pleasingly heavy moments on "The Dark Host" and "Harvester Scythe."
A pleasant surprise is "What Could Have Been," an almost-ballad that features a haunting guest vocal appearance by ex-Gathering vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen. Aphotic may not bring fans back who left the band on Requiem, but those who stuck around will get to experience a group finally coming into their own. JOSH HART