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How is THIS a demo?! - 98%

BlackMetal213, August 10th, 2017

Aside from "The Aurora Veil", I really haven't listened to much from Ne Obliviscaris. I have the albums "Portal of I" and "Citadel" as well but I've only listened to both of them marginally and really haven't indulged much. This demo is really THE NeO recording that has always had my interest and while I probably should give the other releases a chance, I feel they will most likely pale in comparison to this glorious piece of extreme progressive metal mastery.

If I can be totally honest here, I don't exactly recall when or where or what I was doing when I first heard "The Aurora Veil". I'm not sure how I came across this demo aside from the obvious fact that it happened on the internet somewhere. Maybe I was looking for new "black metal" bands? As in bands that had just started to take off? This thing was released in 2007 but I believe I first heard it in 2011 sometime. It has been about five or six years...I just can't recall the exact event. Regardless, it immediately captured my attention and bottled it up in an airtight glass container. For the most part, this follows similar formulas that bands such as Opeth and Enslaved after they added more progressive influence into their music, and also takes influence from perhaps Emperor and Ihsahn's solo project of the same name.

The sound of this demo mixes progressive metal and extreme metal, notably black metal, which is most apparent on the intro track "Tapestry of the Starless Abstract". This 12-minute affair is, in my opinion, the epitome of excellence on this demo. It starts off with all guns blazing in a fast and aggressive tempo, accompanied by black metal-tinged shrieks and screams. The riffs for the most part are fairly complex and melodic, all the while sounding aggressive when need be and appropriate. There is also a violinist which is fairly interesting, as most bands that include strings instruments tend to use synthesizers. Not in the case of NeO. Though the first track is the most aggressive, it does contain these melodic breaks and doesn't lose its atmosphere and effectiveness. This song, as well as is the case with the entire demo, features some cool basslines utilizing what sounds like a fretless bass. "Forget Not" also features this bass sound and it's really cool to hear. It reminds me of other bands that use this in their music such as Obscura. It seems to be a commonality in a lot of progressive metal but it's still a neat addition to the music.

"As Icicles Fall" also features some more guitar work in the black metal style but the drumming is not as fast as the first track. Usually, the riffs here that have black metal influences are still highly melodic recalling some of the more melodic black metal bands of the later 1990s. In the vocal department, Xenoyr handles the harsh vocals while Tim Charles handles the clean vocals, as well as the violin. I think the clean vocals are pretty darn good but the harsh vocals are really where it's at. They add yet another blackened shade to the music. There are parts in this album, such as in "Tapestry of the Starless Abstract", where these clean vocals are done in a very high range. Such a high range that I, until only recently, mistook them for female vocals. It seems no females were responsible for any additional vocals according to the credits, so this is a bit of a shock to me. It's still really nice to hear.

This demo, in closing, is a true masterpiece. It seems to almost garner universal appraise aside from some who think it's a bit pretentious, a bit too much, or that it tends to drag on for too long. I mean, 33 minutes for three songs? That's quite a runtime indeed. Either way, I know how I feel about this demo. It took NeO five years to craft their first full-length after this came out which is quite interesting but doesn't matter either way. This demo really doesn't sound like a demo with it's fairly strong production value and songwriting approach. Maybe I should listen to this band's entire discography now...