REVIEW: Novelists – “Noir”

French progressive metalcore band Novelists are back with their second full-length album, Noir, out on September 8 through Sharptone Records. Sophomore releases are always tricky, as comparisons are inevitably drawn to the debut album. In many cases, these albums fall short not because of lack of quality, but the band having different creative goals for their next collection of songs. Let’s see how things go on Noir.

The album opener is “L’appel Du Vide”, which, for those of us are out of practice with our French, means “the call of the void.” The song fades in with some atmospheric synths and rolling guitars that gives way to the piano, drums, and a nice riff. The intensity is scaled back for the opening and cleanly sung verse. The production is noticeably good, with every element sitting nicely in the mix. I find the decision to make this the opening track somewhat strange as there’s a lot of quieter moments both musically and vocally. While the song isn’t bad, it’s somewhat generic and a little too subdued to be memorable.

The next track of note and the second single released is one of the standout songs on the record. “Under Different Welkins” has a lilting guitar intro followed up by a nice progressive metalcore riff. The drumming, while uncomplex, really gives the song a real sense of motion throughout the verses, and makes it a great driving tune. The layered vocals are a nice touch with some of the best growls that we’ll hear on the album and great soaring cleans in the background. This song is grandiose and a bit indulgent, but I enjoyed it and found myself going back for additional listens.

The middle of the album is sadly generic and unmemorable; There’s nothing that demanded my attention in this segment of the record. While there are some interesting elements, like a saxophone on several tracks and a full on nu-metal rap section “Stranger Self”, the middle third of the album is uninteresting overall. The latter third does have a few bright spots beginning with “The Light, The Fire” though.

This was the first single, and there’s no doubt as to why. It is a nice mixture of alternative rock and melodic progressive metalcore. Once again this song starts subtly but is loaded with great hooks and a chorus that puts the rest on the album on notice. The movements of this song also exemplify why the majority of the album falls somewhat flat: the lack of dynamics. When you think metalcore, dynamics are usually a big part of the vocal and instrumental composition. Novelists have stuck to a more straightforward approach compositionally on Noir, and it’s my opinion that this is the wrong path. I wouldn’t call this album boring, but it does lack the punch I expect when listening to a metalcore album.

So did the sophomore slump hit strike again? Well, maybe a little bit. There are things that I do think make this album worth listening to, but not necessarily if you are looking to get more of what the debut had to offer. The instrumentation and vocals have been smoothed and compressed so the hard edges are gone and are missed. With only a handful of standout songs, Noir probably won’t stick with you very long. The lead singles are solid but there’s little else in the remaining tracks to save the album from mediocrity.


Score: 5/10

Notable Tracks: “The Light, The Fire”; “Under Different Welkins”; “Heal the Wound”

FFO: Architects, Ghost Iris, Hands Like Houses

You can keep up with Novelists on their Facebook page, as well as pick up their albums over on Bandcamp!



  1. Rod

    8 September, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Wow, I think you need to hire some new reviewers, or assign reviews to more appropriate writers who actually know what they’re talking about. This review is just so wide of the mark I can barely believe my eyes. This is NOT ‘metalcore’, it is progressive metal. This album is FAR from ‘straightforward’, it has HEAPS going on if you actually know what you’re listening for, and the completely ‘generic’ use of the word generic always strikes me as just pure laziness.
    No doubt the writer will just respond with another copout, ‘hey it’s just my opinion man’. Educate and inform your opinion more.
    My advice would be to take this review down and re-review it, and get someone who has some knowledge of this type of music.

    • Inter

      8 September, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Feel free to send your review to I’m excited to read it.

    • Todd

      5 December, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Agreed, This is such a technically dynamic album. Leaps and bounds beyond what any newer band is putting out. Novelists are on a completely other level. Love this album.

  2. b0tch

    12 September, 2017 at 4:22 am

    Pretty sure the “nu-metal” rap part you are referring to is a guest spot by Matthew Youkhana from DVSR. In fact, is posted by your own team. Jeez.

    • Jake

      12 September, 2017 at 4:40 am

      The fact that it wasn’t their vocalist that performed the “nu-metal” rap segment doesn’t mean it wasn’t part of the album’s composition. This is a review of this set of songs, not an indictment against the band. It is my opinion that it felt out of place, who performed it is moot.

  3. Ryan

    21 December, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    “The middle of the album is sadly generic and unmemorable; There’s nothing that demanded my attention in this segment of the record. While there are some interesting elements, like a saxophone on several tracks”

    Saxophone was on Monochrome, the second track of the album. Nowhere near the middle of the album. No mention of the tracks after The Light, The Fire yet Heal The Wound is a notable track? Might also be helpful for your readers to know the guest vocals on Stranger Self and Joie De Vivre to show that you did your homework. This is a poor “review” and more of an uninformed opinion piece. First and last time I come here but I hope you will take mine and others feedback seriously.

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