A Novelist – Folie

Band: A Novelist
Title: Folie                                                       
Label: Independent
Release date: 8 February 2019
Country: United States
Format reviewed: Digital Promo

Following up their first release in 2015, A NOVELIST return from the underground with their latest release “Folie”. Writing up another prescription of uncompromising madness, this band pulls on a wide spectrum of influences in order to cleverly express their story. Utilizing a variety of unorthodox instruments and song structures, the Louisiana-based duo manages to deliver their own unique deadly blend of progressive metal without ever falling too far off the rails. The vocals change dramatically through the songs, reminding me several times of Rody Walker’s style from Protest the Hero as I listened. This band excels in thinking outside of the box, featuring an eclectic mix of technical guitars and drumming as well as the use of strikingly unsettling orchestral instruments to build unconventional melodies and atmosphere. A NOVELIST are sure to attract the attention of many prog and modern metal fans alike; a good bet for fans of bands like Between the Buried and Me, The Human Abstract,  The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mandroid Echostar, and Caligula’s Horse.

Folie” starts with a down tempo and almost eerie ballad before quickly changing pace with “Tombeau”, which introduces the first of many sharp punchy progressions before also giving a taste of the album’s excellent solo work. It becomes apparent early on in this album that A NOVELIST have a very complex story to tell, with a clear desire to explore various unaccustomed avenues.  Songs like “His Kingdom is Vast” and “Strangers in the House of Auto-da-Fe” offer up a mix of vocal styles, quicky mathy riffs, and interesting progressive elements like the many saxophone, oboe, and clarinet rhythm overtones and bridge sections. While many of the songs to follow use a very similar structure and formula, the band manages to break the mold a few times with full throttle songs like “Stockholm Blues”, and Learning Paralysis” blasting an all-out attack of undulating guitars. These songs showcase some of the more technical guitar work from the album, with both songs competing for my favourite song off the album. Things close off on a similar note as the opening track as “Interiors” slows things down with a lyrically focused and thick atmosphered lament to the end of days for the protagonist of the novel.

Just as the cover art would have you believe, A NOVELIST come across as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, mixing a healthy dose of heavy technical shreddage throughout what turns out to be a very multi-faceted and avant garde album. Delivering a blend of fast punchy prog metal mixed with a number unusual aspects, “Folie” sets the listener off on an aggressive and chaotic listening journey (which will no doubt prove more difficult for the more traditional metalheads). The one thing holding me back on this album is that although the band explores multiple vocal styles, they focus on the clean style far more than any other, making for a hard listen for any fan of a heavier vocal lead.

All of this aside, I can see a lot of opportunities for different groups of fans to gravitate towards this band. And while I felt the album tracks a bit longer than necessary, there are no shortage of memorable moments throughout the many driving solos and technical fret and drum work, with the wind instrument rhythms adding heavily to the noire feeling of the music. A NOVELIST clearly hold nothing back with their latest eccentric creation, leaving me eager to see what else this duo has in mind for us in the years to come. 7/10 Metal Yeti

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