French metalcore outfit Novelists are back with their third album, ‘C’est La Vie’, their first since guitarist Charles-Henri Teule departed the band in 2018.
Somewhere between contemporary metalcore and djent stylings, you’ll know whether or not this is for you pretty quickly.
‘Deep Blue’ has enough qualities for it to stand out on its own as an individual track. There’s plenty of talent in this band and you’ll want to tap your feet along with this, but you quickly realise much of this feels like it’s been done before.
The rapping in ‘Lilly’ feels very ham-fisted and a little cringeworthy – we don’t need another Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) imitator. It’s a little trite lyrically, and you’ll know by now that they aren’t going to switch many things up.
The grooves on this album are solid, but overall the record lacks that extra something. The atmospheric sections in ‘Somebody Else’ could be expanded upon in the future, and given that there are many bands doing this sort of thing, it may not be worth bothering with it unless you’re Architects or Periphery.
In case you might have been wondering, the title-track is not a cover of the pop hit by B*Witched. It’s actually a bit of a miserable, lulling number, with the lower range of Matteo Gelsomino‘s clean vocals not really inducing the emotion it’s intended to. Poor lyrical choices like “Everyone’s giving advice but no one seems to really give a shit” don’t really help their cause either. The fade-out feels abrupt, and spite of some further impressive guitar work, there’s little to grab on to, and it begins to blend into one.
At least ‘Head Rush’ is one of the better cuts. Again, there’s clearly talent in this band, but you’re just wishing that they would push themselves further; they’re clearly capable of better than this.
Gelsomino is an adept vocalist, of course, but the clean vocals simply lack the character that are needed for this to work. And when it comes to his screams, he employs the exact same intonations and stylings used by hundreds of metalcore vocalists.
It begs the question whether or not bands like this really constitute ‘progressive’ music, just because of the technical guitar work. Repeating the same formulas and sounds is, if anything, the exact opposite of progress.
‘Rain’ has more toe-tapping grooves and an impressive enough guitar solo, but, once again, ‘Human Condition’ offers up more of the same. There’s also the questionable decision to close the album with an isolated, obscenely wah-wah’d guitar that sounds like it was recorded on a mobile phone.
‘C’est La Vie’ isn’t a bad record, but it is just a bit too far on the side of cliché. There may still be some potential to further be explored further down the line for Novelists.