Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel (2014)

In 2012 came an album that almost knocked me out of my chair. A album that had an amazing mix of death metal, jazz and classical music. That album was "Portal of I" and is the debut record of the Australian band Ne Obliviscaris. It is an impressive debut that felt unbelievably original and well constructed. However, I felt that the band still had some way to go, especially since there were a lot of space in "Portal of I" that was badly utilized, and the fact that the
violins took up so much room. It was still one of my favourite debut albums from 2012 and it even made my top 20, so you understand that I had a lot of hopes up for their sophomore album.

And here it is, the follow up to "Portal of I", entitled "Citadel". And just like its predecessor, it is a beautiful album that is not for the impatient kind. Because even if it only contains 6 songs, the total playtime of the album is around 48 minutes, where 3 of the songs are 9+ minutes. I find it a little strange that they have 3 short songs and 3 mastodons, but then again, the shorter songs mostly acts like an intro or outro to one of the longer ones. But if we need to be extra petty, "Citadel" is actually only 3 songs long. The song "Painters of The Tempest" is split into three parts, and "Devour Me, Colossus" consists of 2 parts. However, I will look past that since each individual part has a name of its own.

Just like with almost all of the songs in "Portal of I", the longer songs in "Citadel" are very difficult to listen to. It is hard to remember the whole song, which almost forces you to listen again and again, just so you can separate them from each other. This is not surprising since the style of Ne Obliviscaris is so vast and progressive, and it is ultimately rewarding if you hang on and endure the sessions. I definitely think that the band has evolved their song writing skills, and made a lot better use of the allotted space than what they did on "Portal of I". I am relieved that the long, close to silent middle sections are gone and replaced by actual music. I did not expect that the violins still was such a big part of their music, but even those are better utilized here, helping to enhance the music instead of just stealing the show. Also, the production feels much more polished in "Citadel", but that comes as no surprise since the band got picked up by the excellent record company Season of Mist.

Frankly, I enjoy all of the three longer songs in "Citadel" even if they all have a tendency to go longer than what is necessary. All of them have a good sense of taste when it comes to dividing the heavy and the beautiful together so they take equal amount of space. Out of the three, "Pyrrhic" is without a doubt the heaviest track, and the only track that is a stand alone song. It starts of with a furious tempo and eventually mellows out, only to finish off strong with a dark and beautiful cooperation between the violins and the harsh vocals delivered by Marc "Xenoyr" Campbell. While Marc is doing a great job on "Pyrrhic", the clean vocalist Tim Charles shows his best skills on "Triptych Lux", the longest track on "Citadel" with a play time of 16 and a half minutes. Finally, we have "Blackholes", a song that does not stand out, but is still a very fine tune that fits well with the rest of the tracks in "Citadel"

The only critique I have against "Citadel" and Ne Obliviscaris in general is that it takes time for the music to grow on you. It is very easy to hear that the music is beautiful and well crafted, but since the songs are so long and progressive, it is very difficult to keep it in your brain, especially since all of the longer songs have all of the same things in them. Some heavy stuff, some harsh and clean vocals, a sort of break in the middle, violins and long, instrumental parts. So the band is succeeding in making the same thing over and over again despite the usage of ever evolving song structures. But if you do take the time, and listen through the entire album enough times, you will be rewarded sooner or later.

"Citadel" is a step forward for the band and another proof of the immense talent that this band possesses. The music is very original and highly interesting. The band still has some way to go, especially in making the music more memorable, but it is still early in their career, and they are playing a kind of metal that does need experience to fully master. None the less, "Citadel" is a great listening experience and one of the best progressive metal albums this year. Check it out now!

Songs worthy of recognition: Pyrrhic, Triptych Lux, Blackholes

Rating: 8,5/10 Wyrmholes

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