Sound — 7
It should be first said that Novembers Doom hasn't achieved the notoriety like bands like Opeth or Anathema, and that fact should be taken into consideration when viewing the Chicago-based band's first live DVD, The Novella Vosselaar: Live In Belgium. In comparison to live DVDs distributed by major labels, The Novella Vosselaar does feel a little rough around the edges at times in terms of the visuals. Even so, the band deserves credit for delivering a pretty flawless mix of the music, which for fans will likely be the main draw anyway. Recorded at Belgium's Biebob on November 10, 2007, the new DVD features 13 cuts from the live show as well as a few video extras. Everything is pretty straightforward in the Novembers Doom show, which bounces between low-key, mellow doom metal to a more aggressive thrash style. The set includes tracks going back to the late 90s, but also includes 4 songs off the band's latest album The Novella Reservoir. For fans, the show offers a good mix of the new and old, but the band hits its peak when it dips into a mellower, darker vibe. With Rue And Fire and Silent Tomorrow are among the standouts, and there are some musical sections that are reminiscent to Metallica's slower moments. If you're not familiar with Novembers Doom, the DVD may be somewhat lackluster. Not a lot of action takes place onstage, and the trademark growl of vocalist Paul Kuhr might not shed a lot of light lyrically. It shouldn't even be compared with some of the high-dollar DVDs out there, but it is hard to get over the bare-basics approach at times. Even so, The Novella Vosselaar does relay the Novembers Doom stage show as best as possible. Key guitar solos are given ample camera time, and Kuhr's imposing, yet laid-back self does keep things interesting for the most part.
Content — 7
During the main stage show there isn't necessarily anything out of the ordinary, but the band did put effort into providing quite a few camera angles. Again, it's not the most vibrant performance, but the stage was also quite a bit smaller than what other bands have to work with when they film a DVD. The stage show does go surprisingly fast, but it's a good introduction for Novembers Doom's musical history. Included in the extras are 3 promotional videos and 4-fan made videos, which actually surprisingly stand out more than the main feature. Among the professional made videos, The Pale Haunt Departure makes a mark for its incredible visuals. It's a straightforward performance video for the most part, but the dark, eerie film used and the choice editing makes it an interesting viewing. The fan videos might not live up to the professional ones, but those were still a very nice touch to acknowledge the listeners.
Production Quality — 6
More and more DVDs are using Hi-Def cameras for their footage, so The Novella Vosselaar does unfortunately suffer from looking a little grainy and raw. It doesn't help that the club lighting isn't the best for video, and that aspect tends to be a bit distracting. Thankfully the sound is consistently strong for the duration of the show, and given the lack of stage antics, it ends up being the most important component anyway.
Overall Impression — 7
Apparently Novembers Doom selected Belgium as its DVD location because they felt most at home there. It was a wise choice in location, and it's obvious that the small, yet enthusiastic crowd is full of devotees of the doom metal band. You get a good mixture of songs and Paul Kuhr even pulls out his clean, spoken-word vocal style during the evening. It's not a perfect viewing experience because the older cameras aren't quite able to get over the lighting issues within the club, but the band worked well with what they had. In the end The Novella Vosselaar is an admirable attempt at delivering a first DVD to the fans, with the mixing does end up being the saving grace.