Season of Mist/Rocket Distribution
Reviewed By Rahul Menon
A step in the right direction, and an indication that the best is yet to come
Ne Obliviscaris is my favourite Australian band. Right from the very early days of The Aurora Veil EP I’ve fallen deeper and deeper in love with them. Their first album, Portal of I, is one of my favourite albums ever and it is also the first album I ever reviewed. Now, having said all that, I will admit that it is hard for me to not be biased while writing this review for their second album, Citadel. So to balance things out, I’ll state that I don’t love this album as much as I love Portal of I, but this album makes me love the band more than ever.
Ne Obliviscaris have grown so much in this album, and they’ve progressed into a different territory while maintaining the soul of the band in the sense that if someone played you a new track without naming the band, you would know it was them. But at the same time, it is different from what we are used to. Portal of I was an instant hit for me right from the first listen, but Citadel takes a few listens for you to fully get it and for you to take a step back and realise all the different elements in the songs and the beauty within the album.
The music has evolved. The heavy parts have become heavier and the soft parts have become more melodic and progressive. Take for instance the track “Pyrrhic” which is hands down the heaviest NeO song in the catalogue and then you have the three part epic “Painters of the Tempest”. If someone asks you what ‘progressive’ means in music - you play them this song. One moment you are listening to clean vocals, violins, and a beautiful guitar solo, and the next moment you hear relentless blast beats, demonic growls, and riffs which make you lose your shit. However, the best part about this extreme progression is how smoothly the song flows from section to section. Sometimes all these elements come together as one and you are just overwhelmed with incredible musicianship on display. Bonus points for having great lyrics too.
This six piece band features six stars who all are equally important. Xen on growls is absolute madness. His voice is loud, raw, and so aggressive and he reminds me of Chrigel Glanzmann from Eluveitie, but even darker, rawer, and heavier. Tim Charles’ violins really, really shine on this album. He is given the spotlight multiple times on the album. The violin is such a beautiful instrument, and Tim knows his violin inside out and toys with your emotions with ease - the ending of “Pyrrhic” will make you lose control of all emotion. His vocals are absolutely spot on as well. NeO has brilliant intertwining of growls and cleans - sometimes both together. It can get a little confusing to first time listeners, but once you get the hang of the song, you couldn’t picture the vocal delivery in a better way.
Benjamin Baret and Matt Klavins on guitar have created some of the best riffs NeO have ever written. The aggressive riffs and the melodic progression on both electric and acoustic guitars add so much depth to the music and the transitions are absolutely beautiful. Then we have Cygnus on bass. One thing that I always look for in a band's music is how well they use the bass - whether it’s just a background thing or if the bass shines on the album. The bass here is monstrous and takes the spotlight so many times, and is audible as a proper instrument throughout the. Lastly we have drummer Dan Presland who is a machine! The drumming is brilliant as always - the relentless attack of double kick, the blast beats, the fills and the rolls are all so smooth. The best part is how he makes all these different parts sound so fluid.
One of the standout features of NeO is the climax of the songs. After they take you on a roller coaster journey of emotions they deliver that one final punch at the end of the song. The songs build up into something massive like on “Blackholes” which I believe is the best Ne Obliviscaris song ever. The very start of the song gives you the feeling that something epic awaits. There is something indescribable about it. Just the way the song progresses, the way each member in the band is given the spotlight and they shine and deliver their absolute best, and the ending. The ending of this song is unreal. Tim’s clean vocals combined with Xen’s growls, guitars which scream epicness and the relentless attack of the drums. You are thrown into pool and you are drowning in musical awesomeness. If this song doesn’t make you feel anything, I’d recommend you go get yourself checked. I get goose bumps every single time - it is surreal!
Ne Obliviscaris has created an album that shows just how good they actually are. They set themselves in a league of their own with Portal of I. Citadel further cements themselves in this league while at the same time pushing them higher in the world of music. You know what I think? I think this album is just the beginning. They could have easily done a Portal of I - Part 2, but they didn’t. Instead they showed courage, took the risks, pushed themselves, pushed their boundaries and grew. This growth is exactly what the band and this album is about. They will soon become a force that will be unstoppable. Citadel is sign that the best is yet to come. Ne Obliviscaris is the name, Forget Not…