*Since the original thread got deleted and these guys are recording their next album for mid 2014 release, here's the Portal of I review.
Portal of I
This installment of The OG Metal Review will focus on one of the most promising newcomers to the scene, Australian progressive metal band, "Ne Obliviscaris". Their debut album entitled "Portal of I" is definitely a contender for the best album of 2012. This album is a sort of non-specific blend of several genres, rolled into one glorious serving, and force fed down your throat. The black metal undertones are definitely there, but the progressive nature the band exhibits here puts them in a class all their own.
Officially forming in 2003, this band endured a significant larval stage in which they have clearly mastered their respective instruments, focused their ideas, and chosen to release one hell of an album NINE years later. This record is a testament to what can be achieved through perseverance and only choosing to actually produce the most worthwhile pieces of music. The world would be a better place if every band had such high standards and released debut albums this high in quality.
Although the majority of their songs tend to be around the 9-10 minute mark, the key here is quality and not quantity, as the album consists of a mere seven tracks. But, before we get into the album itself, I'd like to give a special mention the album cover art, because it is simply beautiful. It is definitely one of the most creative and appropriate album covers I've seen in quite some time. Front to back, this band has clearly put some thought into every aspect of this release.
Now, as you hear the first song "Tapestry of the Starless Abstract" for the first time, it sounds like this is going to be a straight up mid 90's underground black metal adventure. Keep listening, trust me. You can't judge a book by its cover (although as mentioned, the cover is amazing). Ne Obliviscaris have a lot in store and many tricks up their sleeve. As the song plays, their true colors will show, and you will be treated to not only crushing riffs and tremolo guitar work, but also clean vocals, violin, progressive songwriting, killer bass lines, and plenty of acoustic guitar pieces that have the ability to make the room quite dusty.
The first half of the next song "Xenoflux" is straight black metal, however, the second half is really something to behold. The unorthodox song writing here is simply amazing. The violin will blow you away and you finally get a sense of what Ne Obliviscaris is really all about. The breakdown in "Xenoflux" does exactly that, breaks everything down and slowly walks you back to the edge of that proverbial cliff, only to be pushed carelessly off the edge and pulled down at great speed in the final few minutes of this track.
Luckily, a soft net greets us as we fall into the intro of the next track, "Of the Leper Butterflies". This progressive intro eventually bleeds into blast beats and a nice blend of clean and death vocals. The band manages to seamlessly incorporate the two styles with perfection, just as they have perfected their transitions from soft, progressive and folk inspired measures to soul crushing brutality. They end the song with a bluesy solo and an epic culmination in what will be the shortest song on "Portal of I".
Next up is my absolute favorite track on this album, "Forget Not", which is actually the English translation of the band's Latin title "Ne Obliviscaris" (or literally, "do not forget"). If I had to pick the best song of 2012, this would be it. This track is perfect in every respect. It's a 12 minute masterpiece and really puts Ne Obliviscaris on the map. The diversity and overall song writing we have not only seen on the album thus far, but in this track alone, really comes to a head and reveals a more mature side of the band. This track has all the best of Ne Obliviscaris and in my opinion, possesses the greatest violin work and drumming on "Portal of I".
More of the same is in store with "And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope" and by now you know what this band is all about, as well as what to expect. Just when you're comfortable with that notion, Ne Obliviscaris surprise us yet again around the five and a half minute mark with a killer thrash and death metal inspired riff that takes this song in a new direction. This segues into a jam session which may remind you of something Opeth might write. It's not often another band can even be compared to Opeth, not only because they have carved out a specific style, but because they're so damned good! And Ne Obliviscaris is definitely worthy of mention in the same breath as Opeth any day.
The band closes the album with "As Icicles Fall" and "Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise". In both songs, they deliver a strong performance. There's a cool solo in "As Icicles Fall", but "Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise" is a standout track that is a perfect ending to this great album. The outro is beautiful, yet melancholy, and represents Ne Obliviscaris well in what may be their swan song until they emerge once again. Let's just hope we don't have to wait nine more years!
I suppose if you were to take the album in and reflect on it as a whole, you might be tempted to refer to Ne Obliviscaris as "that band with the violin", but that would be a disservice to their efforts here and a crass generalization unworthy of further discussion. The use of the violin on the majority of the album is a welcome change and acts to support the music as a whole in a very well done manner. In no way does it hinder or impede the flow of the album, nor does it distract from the vision each individual song portrays. Technically, the violin work displayed here is absolutely top notch and hauntingly beautiful.
It may take you a few listens to really get into Ne Obliviscaris, but give it a chance. Some may say the violin is annoying, the clean vocals are weak, or that the songs are too long. Whatever your gripe, if you enjoy metal with real soul and talent, this album should not be missed. I'm confident that this one is sure to become a staple in your collection, as it has in mine.
Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
^ One of the best live performances I've ever seen.