Ne Obliviscaris - _Portal of I_
(Code666 Records, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
I do not believe I would have heard about Australian act Ne Obliviscaris if it were not for the throng of fans shrieking in excitement. Some are going crazy over this progressive black outfit while others are rolling their eyes in exhaustion. I'm sure there are even a greater number of people who have never heard the band. So what do we have? Some who believe this band possess the ability to part the seas and others would probably be more interested in this record if the band's musical feats were not so exaggerated. Then there are the others. Whether or not _Portal of I_ will be the redefinition of metal and music is of course up for debate. What is known however is that in the aftermath of Opeth's fall from grace, a new champion has arisen to take up the banner for complex and extreme progressive music. Shamus, prepare the fiery fiddle -- for this night has just begun.

Ne Obliviscaris' 2007 demo received a great amount of attention. _The Aurora Veil_ demo was a 33 minute demonstration of the band's abilities and direction in the landscape of metal. From the three tracks presented, Ne Obliviscaris set that direction towards the astral ceiling. _Portal of I_ expands on the work started in the _The Aurora Veil_, namely because the three songs are given makeovers as well as neighbors by a doubled track length. With a slick album cover and an already established fanbase, _Portal of I_ is ready to be hit out of the metal ballpark. Here comes the pitch.

One of the most engaging aspects with Ne Obliviscaris is their ability to fuse three different styles of music together. First there is the recognizable facet of extreme metal. Both growling and the blackened shriek are employed with stylistic grace. The extreme metal piece is accompanied by fluid blast beats and a healthy amount of guitar solos. There is also the crooning and exploratory progressive metal which comes flanked by a fretless bass and a desire to be intellectual as well as romantic. While I jest with the progressive aspect in the music, this is the drawing point for most of the fans. While I am sure people are here for the black metal show, it is the base of progressive metal which holds the house together. Ohh yes there is also the third aspect -- jamband music.

Goodbye a third of my readers. Maybe I shouldn't have said jamband music. I only think of this aspect as the violin in Ne Obliviscaris sounds frighteningly similar to Michael Kang's work in the String Cheese Incident. Among the chaos and direction employed by the other two elements there is an even softer violin and jam aspect with the music. At moments everything else fades away leaving a very unmistakable sound. The first five or six minutes of "Forget Not" is spent building up a violin jam that could be blazing from the sound system at Red Rocks. While this analogy is getting absurd and I am sure people are wondering what I was doing before metal, _Portal of I_ succeeds because of its daring innovation. Everyone can come back now, I'm not going to talk about Phish.

The violin in metal is not a new concept. In fact you could probably throw a battleaxe backwards and hit five folk metal violinists. Just this year, Black Messiah did a wonderful job incorporating the string instrument within the confides of metal. It is not new, yet the way Ne Obliviscaris employs it is outstanding. Rather than using the instrument as accent, Tim Charles uses the instrument as a leading character. Even when the other music becomes chaotic, the violin never fades to the back. With this dedication, the music changes leading to an interesting structure.

_Portal of I_ is not the redefinition of metal, though it is exciting. It is an interesting employment on sound and structure, but far from anything life changing. Perhaps that is not what the band wanted to do. Maybe it is what everyone else wanted from them. Still, I could not think of a more unique way to spend 70 minutes of your time. Maybe a String Cheese Incident concert.

(article published 13/8/2012)

8/24/2007 K Sarampalis 4.5 Ne Obliviscaris - The Aurora Veil
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