This is my first exposure to this French four-piece, and considering that my tastes have been running toward the minimal/ambient lately, it has made for a very interesting process of review.
NoVa eXPReSS is a veritable knot work of dark relentless grooves, dense avant-garde guitar and keys, with occasional sinister gothic atmospheres. It's definitely an album that takes some time getting used to, and then a bit more time to unfold.
In all honesty it's run hot and cold with me. There have been times when I've put it on and been able to jam with it thinking, “This is cool, maybe a bit inaccessible at first, but it opens up.” Then a day or two later, I try it again and shut it off after three minutes saying, “Enough with this racket!”
NoVa eXPReSS doesn't have much in the way of melody, or even breathing room. The bass and drums are a constant assault of proggy time signatures played with heavy metal ferocity. When the guitar and keys aren't battling each other with angst-ridden sonic weirdness, they create stifling atmospheres of malaise and oppression. The practical up shot being that either I find myself grooving along with the music, or struggling underneath it, pinned down by its density and weight.
It comes as no surprise then that my favorite track is also the most accessible on the disc, “STiMPy BaR”, which is the closest NoVa eXPReSS comes to traditional progressive sensibilities.
Listening to this CD is like eating a dark chocolate cheesecake, with a dark chocolate crust, topped with dark chocolate sprinkles and chocolate ice cream. For it to work you really need to be in the mood for chocolate!
In conclusion I should add that these guys are accomplished musicians. The music is well played and well produced. Also, the CD is completely instrumental with the exception of one angry roar uttered somewhere in the middle of its first half. The only issue is whether or not you're going to like the music itself. If you like music energetic, angry, and dark, seriously consider trying this.
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