Review : Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I
SputnikmusicPortal of I is a stirring trans-genre metal debut that's not easy to appreciate for its full impact immediately. Instead, Ne Obliviscaris demand attention from the opening blackened death barrage of "Tapestry of the Starless Abstract", but challenge listeners with clandestine grace - nearly inaudible dulcimer-plucking amidst a prog breakdown. This is only a microcosm of their true specialty in seamlessly integrating unconventional instrumentation or ideas; they breathe life into an almost tired genre throughout the complete course of Portal of I. The parallels to Opeth are obvious, yet the Australian metallers forge new territory by using black metal (and using it well) where it has been traditionally unwelcome within the "confines" of progressive metal. More realistically, PoI is reminiscient of a more highly evolved Devin Townsend experimentation - coupling atmosphere with SYL-esque ferocity sans the skullet and fart jokes.
Instrumentally, all musicians are consummate professionals and hold their weight at a very minimum. The screams are evil and the clean vocals aren't vomit-worthy like most prog; "Of the Leper Butterflies" has one of the most memorable choruses for the genre in recent memory. The solos are technical and melodic, the bass is audible and actually useful, and the blast-beats are unrelenting. Notably and emphatically, the violin steals the show on recordings like "Forget Not" with emotion practically dripping out of every bowed note. More important than instrumental prowess, however, is the package as a whole. Portal of I delivers a well-conceived and meticulously planned composition that has obviously been years in waiting. Music like this isn't made overnight, and the results are telling. Ne Obliviscaris have made their case for replacing Opeth atop the prog-metal pantheon in one strike; their next effort has a lot to live up to....full text
AngrymetalguySome parts black metal, most parts symphonic rock, and overall beautifully narrative in nature, the debut full-length studio album from Australia’s underground favourites Ne Obliviscaris is finally released and lives up to the pre-release hype surrounding it. Apart from the plausible Opeth reference in this band’s heavy emphasis on the design of the alphabet ‘O’ in their logo, the next thing that stands out most is their Matrix-ish acronym, NeO. Unlike Keanu Reeves’ stiff-faced “Neo” however, the NeO we have here very obviously have feelings and musical facial muscles with which to display them. Sweet, sweeeeet melancholy will drip all over your head and seep into your skull through all seven facial orifices to induce 700% brain-gasm as you immerse yourself in the music’s exquisite sorrow, and you’ll have to constantly remind yourself that the excellent gentlemen behind such a feat are still independent and lack support from any major extreme metal labels [that was a ridiculously long and inappropriately sexual sentence! - AMG]. One thing NeO could have picked up from Neo, though, is the hippie art of plastering shades to their eyes regardless of whether the Sun is out in the sky. Then all that’s left is for each band member to snarl like Agent Smith and show off their sparkling white teeth, and the band will have a much more interesting band photo.
Xenoyr’s frequently drawn-out growls go exceptionally well with Tim Charles’ sobbing violin (and at other times, Charles’ clean singing, like in the middle section of “Of The Leper Butterflies”), and the resulting mental image of an anguished face with tears streaking down its bruised cheeks will connect with the lonely inner self on a molecular level. Charles’ skill with his violin is evident from how versatile he can be, switching from melancholic melodies to slightly more upbeat ones (as heard in the first 1/5 of “And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope”) every now and then. He does more than just providing the “symphonic” in “symphonic rock” by actually displaying Classical violin skills with his fluid, scalar solos and consistent, technically proficient accompaniment during his non-solo moments—a trait rarely found in your everyday violinist in your everyday symphonic-something-wannabe band. The talented violinist doesn’t just stop there too, for he performs the role of clean vocalist as well, and does an excellent job at balancing out Xenoyr’s harsh vocals, resulting in a limited, but appropriate variety of vocal types to keep things interesting....full text
KillyourstereoAustralia's standing as a mere footnote in the geographics of heavy metal needs a stern re-working. To say that Australian metal is inferior is now grossly misguided and sadly disproportionate.
Sure, when you associate black metal you think of Scandinavia and when you think of thrash your mind gravitates to the Bay Area. But, domestically speaking we are seeing locals offer impressive, unique and now innovative releases worthy of a similar acclaim.
It's this 'have your cake and eat it too' idea that presents the listeners with international quality sounds but delivered by locally produced artists.
As far as a debut studio album, 'Portal of I' is long awaited. Five years since Ne Obliviscaris' three track demo is a significant gap. While, a tedious, ongoing (and now resolved) Visa battle regarding French-born guitarist Benjamin Baret has only added to the various sub-plots surrounding the eventual release. Fortunately, the quality and final product has not been affected adversely in anyway.
'Portal of I' sounds like it's spawned directly from the icy and cavernous surrounds of Norway or Sweden. It's part black metal, part prog and in other moments just simply metal.
'And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope', at eleven and a half minutes, packs everything in. Half-way through things get memorable when the rhythm builds to a crescendo before transitioning into a riff/double kick pairing that almost has the feel of Metallica's 'One' to it. 'Forget Not' is one of the highlights, with a harmonic beginning showcasing violinist/singer Tim Charles's vocal range. 'Xenoflux' is the heaviest track on the full-length along with opener 'Tapestry of the Starless Abstract'....full text
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