Internationally acclaimed metal act Ne Obliviscaris
face losing their lead guitarist after a long and difficult ordeal with Australia's Department of Immigration.
released their first demo in early 2007. Titled The Aurora Veil
, this 3 track 30 minute demo showcased an innovative take on metal which combined black metal with progressive and classical elements. With this single release, the band created quite a stir in the international metal community.
Shortly after the release of The Aurora Veil
, however, lead guitarist Corey King
left the band. After searching for months in 2007 and 2008, the band recruited their current guitarist, Benjamin Baret
, to play for the band, and convinced him to move to Australia all the way from France. It was worth the trouble of getting a working holiday visa, for Benjamin
was viewed as the band's saving grace. In July 2009, Ne Obliviscaris
played a fundraising show to raise the several thousand dollars required for Baret's
Distinguished Talent Visa application (which would allow him to stay in Australia long term). In the meantime, Benjamin
stayed in Australia on a short term business visa and the band worked tirelessly on their upcoming album, eagerly awaited by fans all over the world.
Last November, over 14 months after the application, the band finally received word that Benjamin's
visa application had been rejected. The rejection stemmed from a failure to meet certain standards outlined in the eligibility requirements of the Distinguished Talent Visa. These requirements include things such as having "a record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in a profession" and that "your achievements must be internationally recognised". When you're a young metal guitarist trying to catch a break, fulfilling these requirements is pretty much impossible.
In a letter sent to the band, the Department of Immigration expanded on their reasons as to why they rejected Baret's
application. The following is an excerpt from said letter:
"A metal guitarist with internationally recognized records could be expected to have collaborated with renowned metal bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden or Disturbed. There is no evidence in the application that it is the case."
"There is also no evidence that Benjamin Baret has won any international awards by being a guitarist or a musician in general."
In the words of the band, "To proclaim that bands such as Iron Maiden & Metallica, two of the biggest metal bands in history, are the standard by which one defines
"exceptional and outstanding achievement" is something we feel to be completely unreasonable. Further more, to use the fact that Benjamin has not won any international awards for a genre of music such as metal in which awards scarcely exist, we also feel is unreasonable. We strongly feel that these reasons for refusal show a clear lack of understanding of the music industry and in particular the worldwide metal scene and Ne Obliviscaris' current and future place within it."
The band have organized a petition to appeal the Department of Immigration's decision and put Benjamin's
visa appeal up for review again. With almost 2,000 signatures from over 50 different countries, Ne Obliviscaris hope to be able to convince the Migration Tribunal of evidence of their outstanding level of achievement. The band needs as much help as they can get to get their guitarist back. Failure to fix this would not only result in a loss to the band, but it would also be a loss to the metal community. Their debut full-length is nearing completion, but not having their lead guitarist is another hinderance in a long list of unfortunate events that have delayed the release of this album.
"This is our dream and has been for many years... [it] would be such a shame if it were to end due to something like this."
- Tim Charles
(vocalist/violinist of Ne Obliviscaris
Sign the petition to appeal the Department's decision here
By Jay Brown