Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I Review
by Matt Hensch
I remember back in 2007—simpler times, those days—when Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris left the womb of darkness and emerged into the realm of metal with a three-song demo. Called "The Aurora Veil," much of the metal community was abuzz with Ne Obliviscaris' audacious slew of extreme progressive metal taking clear nods from musical acts across all spectrums, and the demo was certainly an eye-opening experience, almost unlike any other, really. Between the word-of-mouth praise and the five years it took for the group to respond since the release of "The Aurora Veil," Ne Obliviscaris' first full-length album, entitled "Portal of I," is a fairly excellent and innovative release. The band's instrumental endeavors are far from anything available compared to cohorts like Opeth, but even then Ne Obliviscaris is running circles around their competition on both creative and artistic spectrums.
The three anthems which blessed the band's original demo are all here in their entirety along with six new pieces of Ne Obliviscaris' abstract designs. To suit the needs of the uninformed, what Ne Obliviscaris does is rather unorthodox compared to the strange adventures of progressive bands like Opeth, To-Mera, or Ihsahn, for instance. They semi-frequently throw everything from intense tremolo picking—characteristic of Emperor or other black metal groups—to jazzy bass interludes and violin solos (and a LOT of them) into a giant shredder and glue the remnants together. As one should expect, most of the sonnets are exceptionally long—most running near or past the ten-minute mark—and embrace a multitude of diverse concoctions. Pinpointing an exact faction that they identify with at the end of the day, however, is impossible; Ne Obliviscaris truly established a bulletproof frontier to work with.
Their exquisite novels are consequently phenomenal fragments of this progressive landscape—not progressive in the sense that the whole album reflects technicality, but instead the total conglomeration of ideas present. Ne Obliviscaris’ vocal frontier, for instance, involves a harsh vocalist and Tim Charles’ clean voice; both are, as expected, adequate and fitting for the record's backbone. Together with the duo of throats, Ne Obliviscaris makes use of almost everything. I find myself enjoying the ravenous riffing of "Tapestry of the Starless Abstract" and the opening instrumental portion of "Forget Not" the most, which both make superb use of the violin. The other tunes are all based around the same postulate, yet the enthralling showcase of individualism within each never dries up or fails to connect the album cohesively.
It's difficult to articulate just how perplexing "Portal of I" really is without hearing it first, but I find it to be an exceptional experience which sweats a vigorous amount of life into the extreme side of progressive metal. The riffs make an impact, the voice-trading situation works splendidly, and the tracks have so many layers that it doesn't surprise me that it took five years to finish what Ne Obliviscaris started back in 2007. Still, "Portal of I" became the product it was supposed to be: something grandiose, sublime, meaningful. The six-piece entourage carries with them an innumerable amount of introspective drama cumulating into this ravish piece of livid excellence, so colorful and vivid that it eclipses the very essence of progressive music itself, and "Portal of I" is definitely required for interested parties.
Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I
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