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novAct01.jpgBandname: novAct
Title: Tales from the Soul (to those who understand) 
Genre: Prog Metal
Release Date: March 2005
Record Company / Label: Sensory

Prog metal is hot! A lot of musicians feel the need in the last years to make complex and progressive music inspired by (most of the time) bands like Dream Theater. Result: a thousand copies claiming to be new and different. But some bands actually do make a change. The genuine article, the real deal. Not playing this type of music because they bought Scenes from a Memory and thought they could do that as well. Ploughing their way through the Dutch music scene under the moniker Morgana-X for several years this band deserves respect and support. Half-way through 2004 they suddenly changed their name to get rid of a stigma caused by the X in their old name. NovAct is slowly but steadily moving away from the stigmas, rising above the majority, into the upstream. Keep your eye on these guys. Especially now they are the official support act of After Forever in the upcoming season.


Eddy Borremans – vocals
Wouter Wamelink – guitars
Jeroen van Maanen – bass guitars
Michiel Reessink - keyboards
Martijn Peters - drums

Song Review

1. Sharply Condemned  – 4:32
Atmospheric keyboards start the album off and set the mood. When the rest kicks in its clear that the production side of this album will be no problem at all. This sounds very professional. The guitars are powerful, the drums and cymbals are crystal clear, and when Eddy’s vocals come in it completes the entire picture. Nice progressive elements in the middle part, but nothing is over-the-top and no-one is trying to take all the attention away from the others by too technical instrumentation. A strong opener with a melodic chorus and slightly “angry” verses. I’m impressed… and this is only the first song.

2.  Hope and Fear – 5:32
A dark riff and some keyboards burst through. And then a keyboard part that slightly reminds of Dream Theater. But only a little. And after listening through the entire album this must be the only comparison. Eddy’s vocals are really expressive, and the emotion drips out of every pore. This sets him apart from the many other male vocalists in this genre. Wouter’s guitar work is tasteful and well considered. A fresh and different approach. The mix of this album is quite balanced, as I’m noticing every small detail. Which is a good feature.

3.  Eternal Life – 5:21
A nice clean guitar with some keyboards and drums opens this song. When the distortion kicks in I straight away now that this will probably be one of my favourite tracks on the album. The verses are laid back, but with a underlying sadness and gloom. The double vocal lines are intense and give the song that quality you see in the “big names” of prog metal. Yes, the melodies and terrific arrangements make this a very strong track that can compete with many established bands. A very carefully constructed guitar solo lift this up even further. My compliments, guys!

4.  Path of Daggers – 4:51
”No time to let your guard down”, noAct must have thought. The quality level is maintained and the band puts down another strong song, with a different off-beat feel. The fast double bass drums give the verses some more push and drive, only to contrast the atmospheric choruses. During the bridge the band falls back to a very laid back passage. The atmosphere is so honest that many atmospheric bands could learn something from it. The band picks up power again and when the next chorus and a key-change have passed the song is already over again.

5. So Help Me God – 6:59
A moody part of keyboard strings introduce us to So Help Me God.  It turns out to be a low tempo epic track with nice keyboard parts, driving bass and guitar lines, some very tasteful and impressive drum parts and the ever-intense en sincere vocals of Eddy. It’s somewhat unbelievable that a band can keep up this level of quality throughout an entire album. Not many acts have the talent to pull something off like this. So far there hasn’t been any filler on this album.

6. Flower – 5:03
From the very start of this song this sounds very easy to digest. Catchy lines and very prog rock. The arrangements and details are of high standard again. This could be a single, if you ask me. A song that could appeal to many people; even outside the prog genre. It reminds me slightly of Enchant and Marillion at some points. Some very nice backing vocals as well.

7. The Rider – 3:49
Radio static. A huge riff kicks in and rips through your speakers. Maybe it’s my fault, but only now I realise how much Eddy’s voice can sound like Fish (Marillion). Probably one of the loudest tracks on the album. The attention is shifted back and forth between heavy guitars and keyboards.

8. Nothing Worth Fighting For – 4:19
The first thing I though of when this song kicked in was: Queensryche. Remember those clean guitar intro’s on the Mindcrime and Empire albums? Well that’s what I’m listening to here. Very well done. The chorus is dramatic and bombastic and forms a contrast with the verse. This is the Queensryche that Queensryche wishes they were again. Off-beat patterns and little nuances follow each other smoothly and composition-wise this one of the top tracks off this album.

9. Promises – 6:00
Sound effects and strings. The mood is set again for another epic. Now that I’m sort of stuck in my Queensryche listening phase, I can’t get rid of the feel that this starts off like old-Queensryche. But then it turns heavier with driving guitars and some impressive cymbal-pattern drumming. NovAct doesn’t let you sit back and relax while they take the “easy road”.  I’m impressed. Is this band actually Dutch? You wouldn’t tell.

10. Bad Religion – 5:34
And here the metal aspect kicks in full force. Strong guitars and pounding drums. The last song of this already incredibly strong album makes sure that you don’t fade into the ending. Half-way through the song the band kicks in a chorus that’s strong and sticks into your head. And when the chorus comes back to end the song you can hardly sit still. Everything intensifies, growing louder and louder. Slowly fading away. Leaving the listener with an intense aftermath. Bravo! This must be the strongest and best constructed prog rock album coming out of the Netherlands for a long time.

Technical information

Total playing time: 52:06
Total numbers: 10

Cover pictures


Prog metal is musician’s music. 9 Out of 10 times that is true. But despite all that, I never liked the band’s that feel the urge to show-off all their technical abilities in such a manner that they hit each other over the head only to be in the spotlight all the time. Plus after 2 songs that seem to exist out of one huge 1000 notes per hour guitar solo I get bored and numb. That’s why I like this album so much!! These guys play prog only to construct beautiful and intense songs. Every musician is only playing to compliment the other and create something of another level. That’s also why I couldn’t believe that these guys are Dutch. They sound so international. I even think that the package with After Forever later this year is one NOT to miss.


Music: 9
Sound: 8,5
Extra's: n/a
Total: 8,75

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