October Noir – Letters to Existence (REVIEW)

Remember when listening to an album was a journey? Remember when a group of songs told a story using the art of sound? Those days are not gone… and October Noir‘s epic new album “Letters to Existence” is proof.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: “They sound like Type O Negative.” Yes Type O Negative is obviously influential. The influence of Peter Steele on lead vocalist Tom Noir is evident. He has a deep voice, his cadence and delivery are similar to Steele’s but this factor doesn’t completely define the band’s sound. Since people tend to hear the vocals before everything else and everyone needs a frame of reference, this is a lazy assessment that gets made of the band. They are not to Type O Negative what Greta Van Fleet is to Led Zeppelin. Letters to Existence is a vast album full of unique and shifting soundscapes crafted with intricate musical detail. There is so much more going on here than just Peter Steele and Type O Negative’s influence.

The first track “Spring” is an instrumental that builds into the album’s lead single “Endless Lonely.” This is a dense and beautiful song that goes through a metamorphosis and ends with an epic, ambient, hanging chord progression.

“A Halo Hung from Horns” begins with a synthesizer riff that sounds like it could be Michael Meyers’ intro music. This song cuts through with a much fiercer vibe in strong contrast to the first track. The insanely technical guitar solo is the type of thing that gives the track character. “Forever Haunt” features a two part harmony with a female vocalist that has a vibe reminiscent of a Cradle of Filth track.

“Deja View” might be one of my favorite tracks due it having one of the strongest hooks on the album. The way the band blends synth textures with ambient guitar and vocals is absolutely masterful. The verses have a dark and mysterious shimmer that builds into a beautifully epic yet melancholy chorus.

One of the things that really stood out to me about this record is the unique character that each track has. It’s a quality that is rare in modern albums which typically feature a bunch of songs that sound so similar they all run together.

By the time you get to the second instrumental track “Summer to Autumn” you’re so captivated by the depth and weight of these pieces of music that any comparisons to other bands just seem unimportant and petty.

“Clench” starts off by taking the record into completely new territory. The first half of the track has an almost synthpop, 80’s retro feel. Tom’s vocal style works incredibly well over this feel and the variation helps keep the flow of the album interesting. This one is another stand out track in my opinion. It has moments that remind me of Jane’s Addiction, moments that remind me of Tears for Fears – the song feels new yet familiar at the same time.

“Tourniquet” kicks off with a very Sabbathy riff and the interplay between guitars and keyboards here is ace. This track is probably one of the most straight forward “rock” songs on the album. It also has a guitar solo which helps to give it that classic rock n roll feel.

“For Honor” is the longest track on the album clocking in at 9:21 but the way that the song slowly transforms ensures that it doesn’t drag on. It takes real talent to write a 9 minute song that feels like it deserves to be 9 minutes long. Respect to Tom and the boys for having this skill and using it. They use it again on the track “Flash Paper Matches”

“She’s Gone” has a sliding bass riff that gives it a unique groove. It is also the final song before we reach “Winter” the final instrumental – which closes the circle with a spoken word piece before we return to Spring. The album ends with a playfully ironic organ piece – one final detail that helps define the overall character of this body of music.

From start to finish October Noir’s “Letters to Existence” is a satisfying musical journey. The structure of the album itself takes a listener through 4 distinct seasons as the scenery continually shifts and evolves around them. These songs are dense and detailed, packed with inspiration and emotion. It’s great to know that the art of album making is not dead.

Letters to Existence is available everywhere on Sept. 22nd 2023 – Pre-Order here.