Apparently, Melbourne, Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris (pronounced “Nay Ob-li-vis-kar-is”) have been doing the rounds since 2006, garnering much acclaim for their “intense live shows, unique sound, and extremely talented line-up”. What they are like live (at least for us in the northern hemisphere) is yet to be determined, but after just one blast of their long-time-coming debut ‘Portal Of I’, the claims made about the band’s sound and its line-up’s musical abilities leave little room for disagreement. Subsequent (and very many, it must be said) listens reveals a band that are adept in thrash, black, death, and progressive metal. But that isn’t enough for these guys, oh no; they have to go and chuck jazz and flamenco into the already technical and complex mix to create extreme metal that is as unique as it is striking.
Opening with what at first appears to be no more than another black metal salvo, ‘Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract’ soon introduces the band’s extensive range of abilities with producer Tim Charles’s clean vocal melody countering Xenoyr’s blackened shriek. The passage that appears at around the three-minute mark featuring acoustic guitar, Brendan ‘Cygnus’ Brown’s wonderfully melodic bass-line, and Charles’s violin could easily close the piece but instead, Ne Obliviscaris take the piece further with a flamenco-inspired solo acoustic passage that, after about two minutes, gallops into and through the blackened latter half into the melodic coda. An incredibly impressive opener, its shifts in dynamics, its array of textures, and the seamless blending of styles is flawless. Suffice it to say that the remaining six tracks are as equally accomplished, not one of them feeling the strain under the weight of the array of styles and techniques and their musical depth. ‘Xenoflux’ again burns with the rage of the extreme metal aesthetic established in the opening track, the progressive element foregrounded in the extended mid-section. ‘Of The Leper Butterflies’, by far the shortest track at six minutes, foregrounds the progressive and melodic, the violin and the rhythm section providing much in the way of extraordinary decoration and support. The flamenco-tinged acoustic guitar and violin intro of ‘Forget Not’ builds into an extended instrumental that at six minutes could have easily collapsed were it not for the inspired execution, the remaining six minutes rivalling the first half in its engagement. Leaning Spain-ward, Charles’s violin leads ‘And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope’ through its folk-influenced intro, its melodies hanging in the blackened air as the track delves deeper into technically precise prog perfectly balanced with the darker elements. ‘As Icicles Fall’ and ‘Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise’ take the band further into uncharted territories, the choral section of the latter in particular is utterly astounding, uplifting even, particularly when the violin enters and winds its way through the lavish design.
With seven songs in seventy two minutes, Ne Obliviscaris have spoiled us with remarkable musicianship and outstanding song-craft woven into elaborate, intricate structures and detailed musical passages that eschew ego-satisfaction in favour of the band’s collective goal. Music – true music that is – is made when musicians call upon and develop their individual talents to explore a vast array of musical styles that serve their musical and artistic vision. Of course, there are bands that work exceptionally well with their chosen genre confines, but, as the album title implies, such limitations would not befit ‘Portal Of I’. Having taken so long to get to the point of being released, with not one weak track and each of them bringing something new to the mix, ‘Portal Of I’ is nothing short of magnificent. When these guys make their way to the northern shores (hopefully soon), I fear the claims about their live performances may also be proven true…
PORTAL OF I
Review by Jason Guest
11th June 2012
1) Tapestry of the Starless Abstract
3) Of the Leper Butterflies
4) Forget Not
5) And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope
6) As Icicles Fall
7) Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a band that are adept in thrash, black, death, and progressive metal. But that isn’t enough for these guys, oh no; they have to go and chuck jazz and flamenco into the already technical and complex mix to create extreme metal that is as unique as it is striking."