Sound — 9
I discovered Ne Obliviscaris last year, when Ultimate-Guitar.com reported that "Sydney Conservatorium of Music" is studying one of their songs. Naturally, I was curious to hear them. Upon hearing, I was blown away by the sheer magnitude and ambition of their debut album "Portal of I."
This Australian Progressive Metal band emerged with a new album named "Citadel" this year. Not only did they release a ground-breaking album yet again, they somehow managed to surpass their well-crafted debut masterpiece. In a world where rock and metal bands are mostly afraid to try new things, Ne Obliviscaris pushes musical complexity to the limits and changes your perception of musical dynamics and arrangements.
The biggest difference I noticed that "Citadel" is a much more focused and there is a certain direction to it, when "Portal of I" was more like a plethora of attacks of extreme musicianship.
Lyrics — 10
"Citadel" basically has 3 songs, divided into 6 tracks. But, I feel it would be understating it, if you just call them "songs." The arrangement is more similar to symphony and opera arrangements than your average progressive album. Here's an analysis of the 3 tracks:
1. "Painters of the Tempest:" the band's bassist Brendan "Cygnus" Brown suggested recently in an interview that, this song is the "body of the album." I agree with that statement fully. You can feel they worked their minds off for this epic tale. The first part (which is called "Wyrmholes") is a dark moody piano-centric intro. There's an almost psychedelic vibe to it.
Then, we get to the meat of the song, which is part two ("Triptych Lux"). This part alone, is divided into three movements. You can feel their classical musical influences and roots clearly. Its beginnings are very extreme. But as it progresses, it breaks into clean parts and interchanges several times with the heavy parts quite beautifully. One of the strongest point of Ne Obliviscaris is the combination of growling and clean vocals. They just have that natural instinct on how to use it and more importantly, when and where to use it.
At the 4 minute mark, there's a particularly very beautiful build-up part. And yet again, the song builds up from another clean mark in the 7 minute mark. There's a very Porcupine Tree feel to it. Every instrument usage deserves praise. But to me personally, the drums and the violins stand out. There's a great bass solo at the end of movement of two ("Cynosure"). Movement three ("Curator") has an almost "fading away" vibe, which is fitting for the ambitious scope of this tale.
The part 3 ("Reveries From the Stained Glass Wound") is a beautiful mixture of violin, cello and acoustic.
Overall, this song surpasses anything that has the band has done before. It clearly is their "magnum opus."
2. "Pyrrhic" - This song structure is very similar to the songs of "Portal of I." The intro is one of the most brutal things I have heard this year. Even though, the song isn't divided like "Painters of the Tempest," but it can be cut in two parts, The first part being the extreme one. And through the middle, there's a very beautiful bridge. The somber tone and the beautiful mixture of guitar and symphony leaves me awestruck every time I hear it. The outro is as brutal as the intro.
3. "Devour Me, Colossus" - we reach to the conclusion of "Citadel." I can't but feel as if Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt and Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson have come together and created this song. The part one ("Blackholes") has again some of the best growling and clean vocal interchange I have ever heard. Like the first song, it features various riffs and arrangements. Despite the complex quality of it, Ne Obliviscaris has a way to make them feel natural to it. At the five minute mark, the song breaks and cellos, violins dominate the sound to create a mythical vibe to it. Towards the end of the song, in typical Ne Obliviscaris fashion, it gets extremely heavy and at the 9 minute mark, the bass riff takes-over and gives it a very sonic sound. The melodies and the guitar solos deserves a nod as well.
The part 2 ("Contortions"), much like the intro of the album, is a dark gothic-esque sounding combination of piano, cello and violins. It's nothing short of a masterpiece.
Overall Impression — 10
I was already hyped for "Citadel" when they first announced it on their Facebook page. But I had no idea that they would surpass my expectations like this. Ne Obliviscaris has a nice cult following, but they deserved way more recognition than they get. Bands like Ne Obliviscaris are the proof that music can still be pushed to the furthest boundaries and still manage to live us awestruck. If Mozart, Beethoven were alive today, I am sure they would have been keen admirers of them. Yes, the musicianship is that good. Ne Obliviscaris is definitely not something easy to get into, but when you do revel in their exotic world of music, it is a heaven and a dreamland for musicians.
So, if you want to your mind blown away by an insane combinations of vocals, guitar, drumming, bass, violins and cellos, I suggest you buy this flawless album