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Album Reviews : Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel

By on November 5, 2014

NeObliviscaris2There are just some bands that can do absolutely no wrong. The music they create encapsulates the world in all of it’s beauty, mystery and emotion; combining a plethora of imagination with the truth of reality. For me, Melbourne progressive metallers, Ne Obliviscaris are one of those bands – probably right at the top. They are one of my favourite bands in the whole world and from the time I heard the sheer metallic brilliance of their first EP The Aurora Veil and debut album Portal of I, Ne Obliviscaris, I felt nothing but love for them. They are now back with the mind-blowing, musically ingenious affair that is Citadel. I would say more here as part of the statutory intro but no, keep reading, as this album deserves a track-by-track review with the utmost attention to detail.

This beautiful masterpiece begins with the unique, three part track ‘Painters Of The Tempest’. Part I: Wyrmholes which has a haunting intro courtesy of a beautiful piano drone that flows along melodically with the violins in the background and has a very ambient vibe to it. The violin has a different feel right from the start of this album; it’s not generic as Tim Charles incorporates more of a worldly element to it. Around the 2.40 mark, you hear distant guitars which leads straight into the next part. Albeit a calm beginning, it is the perfect way to leave you wanting more but at the same time, doesn’t prepare you for what comes next. ‘Part II: A Triptych Lux’ enters with a whirldwind riff before Xen’s beastly growls forge through menacingly, so in sync with the guitars and drums. At around 1.40, there is a violin section that is otherworldly, completely switching the mood and transcends the track from beastly death metal to a ballad like classic section, and then the two worlds merge to create something that is the epitome of beauty itself. Through this epic 16 minute track, it’s like a battle between good and evil, between death metal and classical music.

It ends with distant feedback and almost instantly the soft acoustic sound calms you down after the madness, with the sorrowful yet gorgeous violin begins the final part of this track. This is the pure musical ingenuity of this band. Although each ‘track’ has a different name or in this case a different part, it’s all tied together delicately, each track leading into the next in the most fluid, beautiful way possible. Tim Charles’ violin echoes a story of sadness, of fear and of deep emotions that cannot be conveyed through any other means. The acoustics come in with a progressive and emotional element – something that you wouldn’t usually find on an album that is classified as metal and the dual instrumentation will make you empty a tissue box; it’s probably the most emotional track NeO have ever written. The guitar at times reminds you of a small quaint little town in Spain, the touches of flamenco-like riffs serving as proof of their sheer creativity.

While ‘Part III: Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb’ gives you a little breather, next track ‘Pyrrhic’ is the complete opposite. A brutal aural assault right from the start, this one has death metal written all over it! Headbang-inducing, powerful bass lines with a black metal vibe that stand out courtesy of Cygnus, Xen’s vocals absolutely fierce on this one and the violins have a more avant garde feel to it. Timmy’s vocals are also much deeper than on the previous tracks. There’s a lot going on and albeit some of the most complex music you’ll hear, it is nothing short of pure genius. The layers of sound are blissfully magical, every instrument complimenting the other, it’s like opening a treasure chest and discovering a world of rich and indefinite beauty. past 3 minutes you have a more symphonic groove getting your tingle on.

With one of the most massive endings to a track I’ve heard Part 1 of Devour Me, Colossus: Blackholes begins next and it is a stunner (no surprises there). A groove-laden track that boasts soulful vocals which echo throughout and merge oh-so-perfectly with those growls. There are multiple soundscapes and an array of elements, it’s like an attack from all directions! Both parts being quite reminscent of ‘Portal of I’ especially the violin sections that will blow you away. Tim holds a great power over even the most powerful man with just that violin of his. The more atmospheric Part II: Contortions, has a haunting yet sorrowful violin leading the track throughout, ending this album on an emotional note and stunning note.

Muscianship is redefined with Citadel because it truly is flawless. Every single note from all the instruments is clear and crisp. Both vocalists compliment each other so well is absolutely mesmerizing, especially to the old time fans who are used to the magic that Xen and Tim create with their interwoven vocals of harsh and cleans. It’s truly unlike what I’ve heard anywhere else. Xen truly has one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever heard; raw, fierce and glorious. Matt and Benji deliver some brilliant riffage throughout combining lots of melodic riffs with more progressive elements while Cygnus’ bass resonates throughout the entire album along with the relentless drumming of Dan Presland who delivers blast beat after blast beat effortlessly with some very unique fills and just an overall creativity. This album live is sure to be an absolute riot; NeO were the first metal band I saw live and knowing the crowds that their shows bring, whether they’re supports or the main act, this new album is sure to pull in the masses.

So does it trump Portal of I? For me only a little because I’ll always have a soft spot for that album for many reasons. But Citadel exhibits a more mature Ne Obliviscaris, and I think it’s a little more of an acquired taste because of the continuity in music where as Portal of I is 7 different tracks. One thing is certain though, there’s no stopping Ne Obliviscaris. They have undeniably carved their own niche by means of creating a sound that you can instantly identify as belonging to them and them alone. With every track comes an element of magnanimity and a beautiful aura of mystisim; they’ve really outdone themselves with this release and quite frankly they have now set a high standard. This is Ne Obliviscaris!

Band: Ne Obliviscaris
Album: Citadel
Year: 2014
Genre: Extreme Metal
Label: Season Of Mist
Origin: Melbourne, Australia

Tracklist

  1. Painters of the Tempest (Part I): Wyrmholes
  2. Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
  3. Painters of the Tempest (Part III): Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb
  4. Pyrrhic
  5. Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
  6. Devour Me, Colossus (Part II): Contortions

About

Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She's either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.