NovAct - Tales From The Soul (For Those Who Understand)

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Sensory
Catalog Number: SR 3025
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:24:00

NovAct are a Dutch quintet who formed in 2001, then known as Morgana-X. As Morgana-X, they released a couple of demos Live Rehersal Demo (which is no longer available) and Misunderstood (only available at their concerts). They changed their name in 2004, and released the taut and intense debut Tales From The Soul in February of 2005 through Sensory. The band are Wouter Wamelink (guitars)*, Eddy Borremans (vocals), Michiel Reessink (keyboards), Martijn Peters (drums) and Jeroen van Maanen (bass).

I can tell you that I'm quite excited by this release. It's one of those that I can't quite get enough of, as I love nearly everything about it. Nearly everything? Well, truly, I think I have to say everything. I haven't even told you why yet, but this definitely on my top picks list for 2005! It's just splendid. If you like your metal heavy but not harsh, smooth but not mushy, thoughtful and meaningful, then NovAct are your band. They aren't as diverse as Pain of Salvation; but that's not a criticism, just an observation. The music stays within one particular stylistic niche. I mention PoS mainly because lyrically are a band that address socio-political issues, as do PoS...

Tales... is full of crunchy melodic progressive metal that at times could be called heavy prog rock, but mostly it's of the prog metal variety. It's sonically rich, so diverse and textured; there are symphonic touches that play against the crunch and the chugging of guitars and bass; even some atmospheric keyboard passages, such as those that open "So Help Me God." If strong guitar playing is your thing, then you will find quite a bit to enjoy with Wamelink. There's no unnecessary soloing - oh, there's soloing to be sure, but it's not of the variety that otherwise halts the momentum of a track just to show off. The leads, whether from guitar or keyboard, sometimes ride beneath the lead vocals, making what's going on underneath as interesting as what's heard on top. That "on top" is Borreman, who has an emotional way of singing, full of drama and intensity, yet he can easily let his voice soar. He doesn't over power you, but makes you sit up and listen, especially in tracks like "Path Of Daggers" and "Flowers" (these two are my favorites, but only by a matter of degrees). His style is mostly smooth, but he can get a bit snarly, as in the opening track "Sharply Condemmed." It gives the pieces an edge without having to resort to "cookie monster" vocals.

So then, the lyrics. All are composed by Borremans and deal with - well, as from the title - tales from the soul, but broader than that, socio-political themes such as war ("Sharply Condemmed," "Nothing Worth Fighting For"), fanaticism ("Hope And Fear"), loss ("Flowers," "Eternal Life" (a piece subtitled "In remembrance of Jeff Buckley," the singer/songwriter who died in 1997)). "Bad Religion" brings many of the themes together -- the apathetic view we (humans) have towards what's going on in the world, the fanaticism that is guiding certain groups -- but also takes aim at Christianity, and that which has been done in its name (the crusades, persecution, a fanaticism of a different sort, etc.). Not an indictment of God, but of a misuse of faith by humans - of all religious persuasions. Weighty issues to be sure...

Really, this is terrific stuff, that from a musical stand point entertains you, and is so well done (and fabulously produced by Oliver Philipps of Everon) that I think you, too, will find it a winner. From a lyric point of view, it will make you think... and, if you "understand" what the band art getting at... act; make a change for the better.

* As of December 7, the band has a major personnel change - guitarist and founder Wouter Wamelink has left as a performer, due to hearing loss (though will remain as a composer); the new guitarist is Roy Segers.

Sharply Condemned (4:34) / Hope And Fear (5:34) / Eternal Life (5:23) / Path Of Daggers (4:53) / So Help Me God (7:01) / Flower (5:05) / The Rider (3:51) / Nothing Worth Fighting For (4:21) / Promises (6:02) / Bad Religion (5:36)

Michiel Reesink - keyboards
Martijn Peters - drums
Eddy Borremans - vocals
Jeroen van Maanen - bass
Wouter Wamelink - guitars

Live Rehersal Demo (oop)
Misunderstood (only available at their concerts)
Tales From The Soul (To Those Who Understand) (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: December 18th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 971
Language: english


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