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Really groundbreaking - 96%

Thorganism, April 3rd, 2009

Having been a staunch listener of all things metal for coming up on something like 1.5 decades, there's not much I've not encountered or heard before. That said, while I enjoy the music very much still, it's super rare that a band comes along that excites me. I'm lucky to hear a band of this nature once a year, if that.

I direct you now to Australia's Ne Obliviscaris. The past few weeks, these guys have been the talk around the “water cooler” during the time every weekend when my friends come over to the house and watch campy horror movies and ridiculous pornography. After coming up some two or three weeks in a row, my interest had been piqued. I asked my buddy for the hookup to see what all the hubbub was about. I was in no fucking way imaginable, disappointed.

Nailing down this band's genre to anything less than three to four words is about as easy as nailing your best friend's hot mother at age fifteen. They are most commonly described as “progressive black metal”; however, their black metal sections are few and far between. Upon each listen I notice something new that could be construed as having come from a different influence. The main ones are black metal, progressive metal, and neoclassical.

There are no bad songs here. Each song is excellent in its own right. While there are only three tracks on this demo, each is over or near the 10 minute mark, but don't quite feel like it. The production is the best you'll ever hear on a “demo.” My personal favorite is the opener “Tapestry of the Starless Abstract.” The songs all contain long melodic interludes juxtaposed with the more black metal parts and creates an ethereal dreaminess.

The harsh vocalist Xenoyr splashes a mixture of high end black metal vocals and occasional low to mid range death metal vocals. I would call him the weakest link in the band, but even he is good and better than most vocalists that attempt a similar style. This should speak volumes about the talent of the other members. Guitarists Ben Barrett and Matt Klavins do a phenomenal job. They mix black metal riffs with traditional metal and progressive riffs and leads and even throw in some flamenco-ish stuff here and there. While they are not hyper technical, they are damn good, and unlike many guitarists that place an emphasis on the technical side of things, they know how to write a riff and place things throughout the songs in a very powerful way. Bassist Brendan 'Cygnus' Brown displays one of my favorite aspects of this demo. He uses tones and styling similar to bass greats such as Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Death, Iced Earth, Testament, Quo Vadis) and Tony Choy (Cynic, Atheist, Pestilence). Drummer Daniel 'Mortuary' Presland manages to blast and pull off rapid fire double bass throughout melodic sections that most drummers would take a break on and makes it work. The “X” factor of this band is Violinist and Clean Vocalist Tim Charles. His violin playing is weaved craftily with the guitars. This doesn't sound like a metal fan writing violin pieces, but rather a formally trained violinist who got conned into joining a metal band. His vocals kick the living fuck out of many out there today, but aren't in the style of classics like Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden). While most harsh/clean vocal combos are annoying and trendy, this band pulls it off.

To gripe about anything on this demo would be splitting hairs. There are a few flaws and things that I would do differently if I had a hand in it, but getting into that would be pointless. The bands diversity of style and level of musicianship could really appeal to a lot of different crowds. Fans of bands ranging from Opeth, Atheist, Cynic, Death, Alcest, Dream Theater, Arcturus etc. will definitely dig this and I can easily see a large contingent of people who don't normally listen to metal get into this demo and band.

Black metal purists are probably furious that this band has any sort of black metal leanings at all and will do anything in their power to talk this record down, but please, just find out for yourself. I expect big things out of this band if they can maintain this lineup and get a label to pull their heads out of their asses and swoop them up. Check this shit out right now.