I have weird relationships with the discographies from certain bands. But even when I might not love something they do, there is something that draws me back the next time. The Black Noodle Project is an example of this for me. They released their new album When the Stars Align, It Will Be Time on July 10th through Progressive Promotions Records.
The Black Noodle Project is a French band that has actually been around for some time, releasing their demo in 2003. There used to be more members, or maybe they just sort of come and go as the winds of life steer them. I’m not sure. Right now, there are two members: Sébastien Bourdeix on guitars, keyboards, bass, and vocals; and Tommy Rizzitelli on drums. For this record, vocalist Sab Elvenia of the band The Fundamental Wisdom of Chaos guests on three tracks. I should say that, if you haven’t already, you should check out Sab’s band—they are quite unique.
Again, I have a weird relationship with this band. I started listening to them with Play Again in 2006, which was a mixed bag for me but definitely perked some interest in me; and then 2008’s Eleonore, which I really liked. The high point for me was 2013’s Ghosts & Memories, which I consider something of a masterpiece. Yet, then I didn’t like 2017’s Divided We Fall or 2020’s Code 2.0. I didn’t even bother reviewing the latter that year. However, whenever the band releases something, I try to make sure I hear it. There is definitely something about them that keeps me coming back for more, whether that is pleasure or punishment.
I am convinced that this is because of the lineup changes, and thus also because of the changes in style over the years. Their early sound was something akin to Porcupine Tree with more Floyd and maybe even some pop influence. Sometimes they were more upbeat, and other times they visited darkness awhile. Eventually, they morphed mostly into a post-rock band, and that is how I would describe their last four records, including my favorite back in 2013.
As you know, post-rock can be quite bland, or it can be immensely thrilling. It can be inventive, or it can sound like a thousand other bands. I feel like The Black Noodle Project, while it has certainly dabbled in the latter, has maintained an interesting sound, even if I don’t like the particular record that much. With this new album, the band puts this on full display. In fact, this is definitely their best since 2013, and could eventually become their greatest record in my eyes.
This album makes a great change. It alternates post-rock tracks and songs with Sabo’s vocals. This makes the album fly by, honestly, and gives a shot of diversity that their sound needed. Sabo has an unorthodox voice, and I would even say she leans into the doom genre somewhat. Since I love doom, that really connects with me, and I think the band targeted a darker, more underworld kind of sound to match her. The album is only 41 minutes long, and so each of the six tracks feels important and well-conceived.
I think I’ll discuss each kind of track separately. First off, the post-rock oriented tracks are head and shoulders above their last few albums. I love the roar of the guitar and the heft of the drums, but that is nothing without great composition. I feel like the band has hit a stride here with winding, genuinely interesting rhythms and transitions. “Welcome to Hell”, the opener, is a great example of how the band can truly rock, while also adding subtle accents to elevate the music greatly; on this track, that would be quiet little keyboard notes and an ambient portion near the end with a voiceover.
Another example is my favorite track on the album, “Give Us Hope”. What a genius track this is. The keys play a big part from the very beginning, and I like the slow gallop of the guitars and drums in the middle. Eventually, a French voiceover appears, which sort of raises the anxiety level a little, but that leads into a beautiful and emotional climax that I really like. “Behind the Light” is the prophetic closer, and it is mostly instrumental. Sébastien actually sings on this one in the second half. It is pretty heavy, as far as post-rock goes, and its various transitions are timely and very well handled. I do like Sébastien’s voice, to the point where I wonder why he doesn’t sing more often. His voice is gentle and serene, and so ends the album on a healing, soothing note.
The vocal tracks with Sab are equally good. “Black Moment” is the single, and it has plenty of distortion and room for Sab to sing: a real rock song. “Time” is where she really shines, though, as this song is more cinematic and dynamic to my ears. I love its bass tone and slow build towards the end; I even love the not-quite-rapping that Sab does in the second half. It feels like a tribute to the late 90s, and I’m a sucker for that. I think “Time” is my second favorite on the album. “Stormy Weather” is the last appearance of Sab, and she is mainly in the second half. I like how this song feels both whimsical and tumultuous at times, both sauntering in pace and also quietly chaotic. It is slower, but supremely arresting of my attention.
Overall, I really like this one from The Black Noodle Project. It feels well-calculated, diverse in tone, and even passionate. The band really brings the rock at times, but also lets the music float and opine when it should. I hope that the band continues this style and format, and I’m already looking forward to the next record.
Find The Black Noodle Project online: