Novallo II is a new entry from the Columbus prog five piece Novallo. This short but sweet album wraps technical showmanship inside the bubble gum stylings of pop music. Novallo II is an eccentric progressive pop metal album that provides listeners a good entry point into more technical metal and fusion without being overwhelming.
The album starts with “Wake”. A 29 second intro featuring a heavily distorted voice. The listener is informed of their oppressors. The social and cultural elites that pull the strings, Illuminati confirmed. As we are told to break the chains and challenge these faceless masters. The album’s single “Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton” starts the music proper. A highly energetic, and technical display of musicianship operating within a pop styled framework. The song is fast, fun and frenetic from start to finish. This all builds to a Vaudevillian bridge near the end to drive home the quirkiness of the track.
“I AM” follows with a MSTRKRFT style electro intro before dropping into a driving synth line straight out of a videogame. This is another candidate for top single off of the album, from the earworm of a chorus, groovy versus and aggressive bridges to the vocal timbre and cadence pulled directly from Sisqo’s “Thong Song”. “I AM” takes musically disparate ideas and merges them into an extremely catchy and replayable track. For better or worse, you’ll be humming the chorus during your day to day life.
The album changes gears with “Sideways Bird” sliding into djent territory. By far the heaviest track on the album, with heavier distortion and machine gun riffs, “Sideways Bird” takes a departure from the style established in the previous two tracks adding more speed and crunchier sounds. The driving instrumentals lay foundation for some serious vocal gymnastics. There is an excellent display of vocal range and depth with seamless transitions from clean singing to low-down dirty growls.
“Give Gravity a Choice” follows, and it’s just okay. This is the obligatory ballad. It is a very slow, safe and melancholy song that brings Novallo II to a screeching halt. The song itself is perfectly cromulent, fulfilling its role on the album, however it would have been better placed in the final slot to transition into the orchestral outro “Sleep”. As it stands, “Give Gravity a Choice” is more of a cool down track from the previous three, which also hurts “White Phoenix”, the final quote unquote, proper song. Another upbeat technical track for the most part that does slow near the end as it is intended to be placed last, but really it didn’t do it for me in this order. The album toys with my emotions and expectations at this point, but not in a compelling or really interesting way. As an aside, if Novallo II had a longer tracklist, this wouldn’t matter at all. However the album on features 7 tracks, 2 of which are short intros and outros, so there is minimal room for the album to rebuild tempo after such a significant slowdown.
Novallo II is a very fun and accessible prog metal album. A gateway drug to the genre as a whole really. The songs are catchy, well produced and expertly layered, and easy to listen to. Minor personal issues aside, Novallo II is a strong offering from the titular outfit. If you’re into the most recent offerings of Periphery or Tesseract, don’t skip this one.
Check Novallo out here:
Novallo II Album: novallo.bandcamp.com/album/novallo-ii
Make it Facebook Official: www.facebook.com/NovalloBand
“Wake/Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton”: www.youtube.com