Ne Obliviscaris [Australia]
Portal of I
Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris has managed to cause a storm in the international metal underground, with just a single demo, 2007’s The Aurora Veil under their belt. Despite the release being a demo release, the quality of the demo was extremely high, both musically and in terms of production, easily being of a full length quality. Five years (and some visa-related drama) later, the band finally releases their highly anticipated debut full length album, Portal of I, containing updated versions of the three tracks that were initially presented on The Aurora Veil. Fret not though, as the material on Portal of I span more than 1 hour, allowing for fans of the band to slowly soak in new material as well.
And like The Aurora Veil, Portal of I opens with Tapestry of the Starless Abstract, and the polished production quality is immediately noticeable, and this would throughout the album give the songs of Ne Obliviscaris a rather different feel compared to the demo, providing a more dynamic sound and allowing the various instruments to really shine, though the band remaining mostly the same in terms of songwriting and musicality. Sticking true to the originals, the band does not leave out details, keeping the unique elements in their music, such as weird tinkling at the background of Tapestry of the Starless Abstract. Another notable improvement is in the clean vocals department of Tim, who also handles the violins on the album, much less whiney that those on The Aurora Veil, and this definitely removes some of the less desirable elements (personally) that were on the excellent demo. Apart from that, Xenoyr’s vocals have also matured, with his growls hitting a deeper register, providing the depth in the music, and removing that somewhat core-ish feel that was appeared at times on The Aurora Veil, particularly towards the end of Tapestry of the Starless Abstract where the clean vocals of Tim and the growls of Xenoyr are layered together.
What made this band stand out personally on my first few encounters was the prominence of the violins of Tim in the band. While bands that featured unconventional instruments often underutilised them, having them serve as an ambient instrument, Ne Obliviscaris‘ songs typically allow for the violins to really shine, with the numerous lead segments given to Tim helping to create that emotional tension in the music, often interplaying with the lead guitars to create a unique listening experience. Songs like Xenoflux also saw the violins creating that chilling feel in the music, sounding like an inhuman scream at the background. Other than the violins, the bass guitars of Brendan also constantly stood out, and songs like Of the Leper Butterflies had the bass guitar drive the music, taking over as the lead instrument in the introductory section.
Also, needless to say, the band’s progressive influences are strongly displayed throughout the album, with the shortest track on the album being the 6-minute Of the Leper Butterflies. Heck, a single track could contain so many different segments and elements that each song could easily count as an EP in itself. Other than the three tracks, the band displays the maturity in their songwriting, with new tracks like Xenoflux containing even more aggressive moments without losing that sense of melody and emotional rollercoaster in the transitions between different moods that made the band such a unique entity.
There is just so much going on in the music of Ne Obliviscaris that it is hard to really pen down in words. Most bands that create such a hype with the first demo release often fail to deliver on their debut full length album, partially caused by the high expectations that fans have had for them. But Ne Obliviscaris, with Portal of I has more than met the mark, and is sure to please most of the fans.