November Coming Fire - Dungeness (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

November Coming Fire

Dungeness (2006)


Reflections Records has distributed releases for a ridiculous number of solid-and-up hardcore acts in Europe (Converge, Breathe In, Daughters, Dead Hearts, Give Up the Ghost, Kill Your Idols, Psyopus, Modern Life Is War among others), so it shouldn't be a surprise that they choose quite a good band to sign to the label themselves. Despite the questionable practice of a seemingly arbitrarily chosen month in their name, the United Kingdom's November Coming Fire actually play an incredibly refreshing style of progressive hardcore that hints at influences but mostly remains a unique, creative record on its own.

While there are a number of equally great uptempo tracks, Dungeness is essentially one fluid exercise in restraint. The band shows an incredible amount of it on tracks like opener "Blue Reigns" and the immensely methodical, wielding 7-minute-plus "Mascot." The former puts out a powerfully uprising feel, and while its beginning is one that does appear quite similar to Give Up the Ghost's "(It's Sometimes Like We Never Started)," it's also one that leads to desperate cries of "abandon hope / embrace loneliness / take your last breath, and fall into destitution," setting the mood for the duration of the record: harsh, dark, and unrelentingly damning. The latter finds the band exercising some doom metal influences in this particular drawn out affair, singing in a gloomy, melancholic fashion that they get away with perfectly and also use wonderfully in "Argonaut;" both songs in question even effectively use tambourine shaking.

But again, when November Coming Fire pick up the pace, they're most certainly effective just the same. In the back-to-back bangs of "Devil on the Shore" and "The Jackal," Gareth Evans shows a frantic urgency in his voice similar to the Hope Conspiracy's Matt Henderson. These, as well as "That Black House Made of Rubber," "Closure," and the bouncy old-school jam "Providence" are simply furious tracks with little studio gloss ruining the power and stomp; plenty of stop-starts flourish in the guitars, which exhibit a fully active dynamism sorely lacking in their peers.

Interestingly enough, influences from fellow blokes Black Sabbath pop up in the form of the band's low guitar tones, put forth in "Devil on the Shore" and the aforementioned "Argonaut," with bass-heavy dirges in "Instrumental No. 2" and "Queenliest Dead."

Dungeness is haunting, bleak, and conveys that mood perfectly, with numerous instances of the sounds of crashing waves and a layout that emphasizes dark skies and even blacker seas. 44-minute hardcore records are infrequent occurrences, but so are albums of that variety that are this good.