Portal of I
Reviewed By Simon Crawley
Fantastic debut album from one of Australia’s top new bands
At the time of Portal of I’s arrival on my desk, I had a lot of other things going on that also required my attention. As a result, I began by only listening to small parts of the album very sporadically. Whereas this may often leave the experience of an album a little beleaguered and worn; I found it to be the best form of introduction I could have had to Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris.
Before I had even heard one note of the Melbourne band’s debut album, I cast a wary eye down the column allocated to the duration of each track. With an average length of over nine minutes per track, I was curious to see what these six musicians had to offer. Initially, I didn’t get very far beyond the opening number, ‘Tapestry of the Starless Abstract’, but I was immediately struck by three things: the prominence of the violin, the pairing of black/folk metal vocals with clean and, thirdly; the focus on lengthy, soft instrumental passages of music. There is certainly nothing hugely heavy or dark about Ne Obliviscaris but it is the complexity of the musical arrangements and the jolted rhythm which require a good deal of patience and consideration before drawing any conclusions. I ended up listening to the album incrementally and now write this review on the back of a cumulative sigh of satisfaction. The six piece act consisting of Xenoyr (lead vocals), Tim Charles (violin & clean vocals), Matt Klavins (guitar), Brendan ‘Cygnus’ Brown (bass), Benjamin Baret (lead guitar) and Nelson Barnes (drums) has produced a highly impressive debut album boasting tremendous musical skill and vision that draws on a range of progressive metal and rock influences which is sure to send shockwaves through the metal world.
‘Tapestry of the Starless Abstract’, ‘Forget Not’, and ‘As Icicles Fall’ were taken from the band’s demo album, The Aurora Veil, and re-recorded to join four other tracks in the creation of Portal of I. Great work was done on the production of this album; giving great balance to the band’s very technical and textured style of music. A mist of black metal permeates the more frenzied passages of music with Xenoyr’s growls, the crashing precision of Barnes’ drum blasts and the fantastic guitar work from Klavins and Baret. Brown’s backing on bass adds great sense of groove and rhythm to the band’s more progressive rock side while Charles accounts for most of the melody with his strong vocal performance and masterful display on violin.
While it might not quite appeal to some metal fans, I really enjoy the turns Ne Obliviscaris take in and out of calmer instrumental passages of music and I think the interchange adds significant depth to their overall sound. Just take ‘And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope’ as an example with the intricate Spanish-esque interchange between guitar and violin which floats along before ushering in an incredible shift in tempo which the entire band execute in punishing fashion.
Portal of I is simply a fantastic album and the fact that it’s a debut makes it even more impressive. I think Ne Obliviscaris are destined for great things and I look forward to seeing where they go from here.