Ne Obliviscaris
Citadel

WOW!

I’m a newcomer to Australia’s self proclaimed ‘extreme progressive metal’ act Ne Obliviscaris, but after hearing Citadel, the band’s second album, there’s no doubt in my mind that this act has to be one of the more special and ambitious bands I have heard in some time.

So much so, that I’m actually having a hard time putting into words what Ne Obliviscaris actually sounds like. It’s rooted in the more melodic side of tech death metal, similar to the likes of Gorod, Obscura, and some of Theory In Practice‘s twangy flourishes. There’s a touch of symphonic black metal’s theatrics and epic atmospheres. There’s proggy melodic death metal that reminds me of Disillusion’s Back to Times of Splendor. There’s a violin (integrated fully into all aspects of the songs, a la Hung), there’s synths, there’s Between the Buried and Me‘s sense of vast progressive scope and shifts (especially in some of the solos), and an Opeth-on-crack delivery of light and dark textures. The vocals are equally as varied, with deep and throaty Gorefest/Vader-y bellows, rasps, and svelte clean croons. Throw in songs that get up to the 16-minute range, and you have a truly ambitious band and release that has potential classic written all over it.

The heart and soul of the album is a three track sequence. The 2nd track (the aforementioned 16 minute one) is a 3-movement number: “Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux (Movement I: Creator Movement II: Cynosure / Movement III: Curator).” After that comes 4th track “Pyrrhic” and the 5th track, “Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes.” The other three tracks serve as instrumental interludes that bridge everything together, but these three centerpieces (which last 40 minutes or so) will blow your mind, as they did for me.

After the intro “Painters of the Tempest (Part I): Wyrmholes,” the 16-minute “Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux (Movement I: Creator /Movement II: Cynosure / Movement III: Curator)” shows you what the album is all about with an absolutely enthralling musical journey. It covers every element and influence I mentioned above. Tim Charles’s violin dances and weaves a classical tapestry amid the seething, growling brutality, and adds a calm sense of introspection to the track’s quieter, progressive moments.

But don’t for a minute think that this is some willowy, wispy, wimpy release. When the band unleashes their swirling, twisty, tech death riffs and blast beats, they stand toe-to-toe with anyone, including the recent Unique Leader stuff. This progressive style has some realextremity to it, so the tech death label makes sense. It’s the way everything blends and melds seamlessly. For example, at the halfway point of “Painters of the Tempest (Part II),” you get one of these rangy, delicate BTBAM segues, along with a violin, but sandwiched in-between some really seething, complex and blackened tech death fury.

“Pyrrhic”, while the shortest of the ‘long’ tracks at a mere 10 minutes, features some of the album’s best moments, such as the gorgeous acoustic bridge. It’s around 6 minutes in and leads into a soaring post-rock peak and climax which is laced with Charles’s violin crescendo-ing in artful melodic agony. The 12+ minute penultimate track, “Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes” delivers a sort of Desultor array of clean vocals over blast beats, with some stern militant grooves, and a nice extended Charles violin solo before the track closes out with a really nifty melodic chug and climax. That also closes the album out perfectly before the instrumental end note “Devour Me, Colossus (Part II): Contortions” adds a nightcap afterthought.

Top notch playing, perfect writing, immense creativity, crisp production. Everything is here for a possible masterpiece album in the making, a rarity in the decades since the legendary 90s. Like Black Crown Initiate‘s recent release The Wreckage of Stars, Citadel‘s ambition my be its downfall. Many listeners simply might not want to invest fully in such a wide array or styles and lengthy songs. However, also like Black Crown Initiate, those who do take the journey might be witnesses to the dawn of a new age in extreme metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
November 24th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: Luke_22

    Nice review. Still getting my head around this one but thoroughly enjoyed the debut. You should check that out as well.


  2. Commented by: Will

    Both their albums are masterpieces


  3. Commented by: F.Rini

    Erik. This album is killer. You have to get their debut. It’s incredible. Has some black metallish moments and a very creative band. Great review. \m/


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