Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I
Code666 Records
Progressive Extreme Metal
7 songs (01:11:40)
Release year: 2012
Code666 Records
Reviewed by Charles
This is Ne Obliviscaris’s first full-album, but they are already the subject of some hubbub, owing, thankfully, not to the prettiness of their faces or the whimsy of their gimmickry, but to the distinctiveness of their musical project. It probably also helps that they share a producer with Ihsahn, Opeth and Devin Townsend, mind. Though they fit very neatly indeed into the luxuriously hay-laden stable that houses those mighty horses of modern progressive metal, they do of course have their distinguishing marks as well. In this case, it’s Tim Charles’s violin. This is a long way from bog-standard symphonic black metal, and the (bowed, rather than twanged) strings are not there to add a touch of funereal gloom, as in My Dying Bride. Instead, it gets expansive solos and critical lead lines, accentuating the sound in a way that almost seems to take a cue from someone like Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Perhaps don’t take the latter as too serious a comparison. It implies a spontaneous, jamming feel which Portal of I doesn’t really possess. For the most part (for the most part- not always, as we shall see in a moment) this is a tightly composed and carefully balanced mesh of Dissection like meloblack, clean-voiced refrains, flashy near-power metal riffing and pleasingly-wrought gentle prog-rock flourishes. Songs here are typically extremely long and progress in stages. Opener Tapestry of the Starless Abstract, for example, begins as taut blasting, before derailing into disorienting pizzicato. Later, there is a lengthy quiet interlude, before jolting back into a swinging riff accompanied by maniacal fiddle solo. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noises really milks some interlocking melodic lead guitar lines, swooping adeptly from blackly technical barrage to swooping harmonies.

The best features are the instrumental flourishes- Ne Obliviscaris make sure to set aside long stretches for soloing, either by lead guitar or violin, and the virtuosic contributions really bring an electric flamboyance to the band’s complex sound. This multifaceted instrumentation is key to the band’s character. Daniel “Fastest Feet 2006” Prestland’s impressive kick drumming has a complex relationship with the windswept melodic rivalry of the lead guitar and violin, which seem to compete with each other to rip out the most memorable lines. This marries closely to the dual clean/harsh vocals, making for a dynamic sound that feels like it could tilt from friendly to aggressive with the slightest adjustment.

My favourite parts, though, are where there is a more relaxed, jamming feel. See for instance Of the Leper Butterflies (what?!) or Forget Not. The former, in particular, is based around a delicate confection of rippling bass guitar, and the distinctive timbre of plucked violin chords, and features a sublime lead solo. Nevertheless, there is never the sense of true spontaneity: the extreme metal intermissions on this track feel like an intrusion, not so much because of the abrasion of the sound itself, but because the sense of musicians just winging it is lost for something much more thought-through. Portal of I is detailed and studied rather than experimental and improvisatory. Overall, it is an impressive and complex record.

Killing Songs :
Xenoflux, Of the Leper Butterflies, Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
Charles quoted 80 / 100
Milan quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Ne Obliviscaris that we have reviewed:
Ne Obliviscaris - Urn reviewed by Andy and quoted 83 / 100
4 readers voted
Your quote was: 96.
Change your vote

There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:56 pm
View and Post comments