Novembers Doom: "Our tragic flaw is our ability to love"

Novembers Doom

Chicago self-proclaimed dark metallers Novembers Doom are premiering their new lyric video for Zephyr exclusively with Metal Hammer.

Zephyr is taken from the band’s upcoming album Hamartia, which mainman and founding member Paul Kuhr says has something for everyone.

“Fans of the earliest form of Novembers Doom will appreciate some of the darker, and heavier moments, and fans of (2013 album) Bled White will love the progression. There’s some moments of (2005 album) The Pale Haunt Departure in there too, all with something new.

“To me, any fan of the band should love this album, so my fingers are crossed that it’s well received. We’re quite proud of this one.”

You can listen to the first taste of Hamartia below, with some deeper insight into the album and the band from Paul himself.

What is the meaning behind the song Zephyr?

“The entire album of Hamartia is based on relationships, and I took a different approach for some of it’s lyrical content. I wrote certain songs through the eyes of other people, who are very close to me in my life, keeping it all very personal. Zephyr is one song written though the eyes of my daughter, and after watching her struggle with a demon she’s had for years, it was a way for me to put into words what I have witnessed all along. It’s about standing up, calling it out for what it is, and doing what needs to be done to move forward with her life.”

Where does Hamartia fit into the Novembers Doom catalogue? How does it progress what you guys are doing?

“When we begin writing every album, we always push ourselves to create a better album than the previous one. We have never taken the easy route and released a clone of the previous record. We could easily knock out an album a year, but no one would be happy with the result. The process of trying to be better with each release takes us time, to make sure we’re happy with the result. There are always elements of our past in everything thing we do, we constantly try to add in new influences and try new things vocally, and musically. To me, this is the best we’ve created in ten albums. From beginning to end, this is the strongest, most cohesive record yet.”

What is the story behind the album artwork?

“This album is about relationships. The Greek word ‘Hamartia’ means a tragic flaw in one’s character that could lead to their demise. Relationships are like a plague, and they effect us all in life. Our tragic flaw is our ability to love. The plague doctor image shows no matter how much you attempt to protect yourself from this plague, your heart is always exposed, and it’s showing you our flaw. There’s no avoiding a broken heart.”

You’re also approaching 30 years as a band. What has been the secret to your longevity?

“We’ve never approached this band in a way where we have had to rely on it for income. The perception of the music business from those not involved is interesting. People assume that when they see your CDs in stores, or hear your music on a streaming service, or we’ve been added to an official Apple playlist, that we live off of the music. This could not be further from the truth, and knowing this would never be the case puts you in control of your own destiny. Novembers Doom has always been a glorified hobby for us. We play when we want, write what we want, and tour when we can. There’s no pressure to pay the bills with the band. It has allowed us to keep going because we love the music we create. If and when the time comes, where Novembers Doom decides it’s coming to a close, it will be on our terms, and because we decide to walk away, not because we must.”

How does it feel being the only original member of the band left?

“I started this band very young, and since it is a glorified hobby, it’s impossible to think the same people will stick around for that. Real life comes into play, and people move on with their lives, and leave the hobby behind. I feel fortunate to still find band members who are like-minded, and work so well together. I’ve always felt this band has had a few lives now, and we’re on its fourth life. I may be the only original member left, but I wouldn’t be anything without the other guys, so I’m proud to be a part of this band, this line-up, right now. I was proud of every incarnation of Novembers Doom, everyone I’ve played with has a spot in my heart, but here, right now, we have something quite special with the five of us. We are writing the best music Novembers Doom has ever created. It’s not always easy, but the end result is something I can sit down and enjoy as a fan myself.”

How do you feel about the doom metal scene in 2017?

“This is going to sound incredibly ignorant, but I don’t follow it at all. I understand it’s doing very well and there’s a strong following for it now, but I never felt we fit into that category. Not in that traditional sense. The slower, sludgy doom metal that seems to define the genre has attracted that more trendy, ‘hipster’ type crowd, and again, this is only my perspective as the outsider looking in at the local scene in Chicago. None of this is a knock to anyone or the genre, I’m sure there are a lot of amazing bands that are leading it, but for me, I tend to focus on what I like, and I find myself always going back to the classics when I want to listen to doom. It’s why I’ve always called Novembers Doom ‘dark metal’. It just makes more sense, as it’s impossible to put us into a mould. So, how do I feel about the doom metal scene? The more popular is gets, the better it is for all underground bands, and I applaud those bands who carry the torch! I’m all for growth in our small piece of the pie.”

What else do you want to achieve with Novembers Doom?

“Every goal I have ever set out for myself with this band, we’ve accomplished, so I made a new list, and we accomplished that list. It’s easy to set a goal, and fight for it, and to earn it with hard work and persistence. If there’s anything else left to achieve, it’s respect.

“I don’t mean this is a negative way either. We are highly respected by our fans, and many people we’ve worked with in our long career. We’ve witnessed a lot of things over the years, and have heard popular bands say some horrible things to promoters and about their own fans in our presence. It’s always amazed me, the bigger the jerk a band can be, the more they are respected and taken care of by promoters and a growing fan base. It’s this ‘bad boy’ mentality in the music scene, and people gravitate to the stories and the drama. It’s not about the music anymore, it’s about the image. I’d love to earn the same respect only for the music we’ve written and the accomplishments we’ve earned with our longevity. People mistake kindness for weakness all the time, and that old cliche is true. Nice guys finish last. This is by no means complaining or whining, we are very happy the way we did things, and continue to do. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and I suppose we’ve been too quiet to be noticed in that regard, while the loudest have become the most respected. It’s a crazy business, and in the end, I’d love to achieve that same respect but for doing things our way. We’re the Rodney Dangerfield of this business!”

Hamartia is available April 14, via The End Records. There are also limited edition album bundles available to pre-order.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.