Released: Nov 7, 2014
Genre: Extreme Progressive Metal, Blackened Death Metal
Label: Season of Mist
Number Of Tracks: 6
With their debut album, "Portal of I," grabbing everyone's attention, Ne Obliviscaris' follow-up album, "Citadel," shows them making a prog metal record with proper cohesion.
CitadelFeatured review by: UG Team, on november 14, 2014 3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: If you judged the book by its cover, Ne Obliviscaris seem like they were born and bred in Germany or Scandinavia based on their gothic aesthetic and penchant for blending classical music elements with blackened death metal. But with the band actually hailing from the geographically-secluded continent of Australia, their success as a fresh new extreme metal band was more of an uphill struggle prior to their breakout. Originally forming in 2003, it would take years to suss out a proper lineup and record their demo, "The Aurora Veil," in 2007, which was then followed by even more lineup changes and other obstacles - including a crowd-powered petition to get their French-native lead guitarist Benjamin Baret a new Australian visa so he could continue working with the band. After years of a deliberate production process, they finally released their debut album, "Portal of I," in 2012 to much acclaim. Though the much-anticipated release of that first album from the point of their inception took nearly a decade, momentum finally seems to be building with the band now, and along with a successful crowd-sourced campaign to embark on a proper world tour, they've now released their follow-up album, "Citadel."
With "Citadel" being made so close to "Portal of I," not much has changed stylistically. With a small addition of more shoegazing elements in "Painters of the Tempest (Part I: Wyrmholes)" and the breakdown in the fifth minute of "Pyrrhic," the songs of "Citadel" are still built with the same blocks. There are plenty of intensely-dexterous blackened death metal sections, less frenzied but still powerful prog metal sections, and your avant-garde sections of jazzy instrumentation and violin solos. Though the bass still gets to be as techy and idiosyncratic or smart and jazzy as it was in the previous album, the guitars this time around are less concerned with the technical riffage and frenetic solos (save the great solo in "Painters of the Tempest (Part II: Triptych Lux)" at around the 10-minute mark), and focus on melodeath and galloping riffs instead. And of course, Dan Presland is still showing everyone why he's one of Australia's fastest drummers in nearly every moment he gets on the album.
But though the compositional qualities of "Portal of I" and "Citadel" are quite similar, the difference felt between the two albums is substantial in what they bring to the table. As "Portal of I" was produced as a collection of works, both old and new, meant for everyone to get acquainted with Ne Obliviscaris and what they're capable of, "Citadel" certainly works much better in terms of being a cohesive album, where each track was of the same litter and meant to work with each other in the order they're set in. Though their extreme prog metal cuts always contain the heavy and the soft sections, the shorter-length cuts on the album are where Ne Obliviscaris want your full attention directed to the non-metal orchestral scores; whether it's the moody and elegiac violin that goes from whimpering to banshee-esque screaming in the introductory "Painters of the Tempest (Part I: Wyrmholes)"and the dénouement track "Devour Me, Colossus (Part II: Contortions)," or the interlude of "Painters of the Tempest (Part III: Reveries From the Stained Glass Womb)" that pairs a playful violin lead with flamenco-influenced acoustic guitar sweeps, which sounds more inspired than much of the boilerplate folk-metal interludes today. // 8
Lyrics: Despite there being substantially less lyrics in total than the previous "Portal of I," Ne Obliviscaris' lyrics in "Citadel" are still as grand and fantastical as the music they make. With the general subject of this-worldly turmoil and the seeking of divine intervention and salvation in the overarching theme of the album, frontman Xenoyr takes some inspiration from famous painters that dealt with similar subjects. He gives a shout-out to Renaissance painters Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch in "Painters of the Tempest (Part II: Triptych Lux)," and his reference to them in the song fits with the idea expressed that one's articulation of Heaven is realer than Heaven itself ("angels fall into the canvas/reaching for the light/Heaven is empty/and all the beauty is here"). Even further, the line "And Bruegel wept for the fading sun/where have all the angels gone?" may likely be a reference to the Spanish Inquisition currently underway, which also leads to the later set of lyrics about a wasteland of forsaken children and the scorning of those in charge ("Curator, Father, what have we become?").
Xenoyr also name-drops the 20th-century fantastic/surrealist painter Zdzislaw Beksinski in "Pyrrhic," which, fitting with the song's namesake and Beksinski's well-known works depicting post-apocalyptic scenes of barren lifelessness, is about the amount of suffering outweighing the good aspects of life and wondering if it's all even worth it in the end. This works hand in hand with the final song with lyrics, "Devour Me, Colossus (Part I: Blackholes)," which has the protagonist seeking absolution through a divine figure, not being afraid to combine the glorious transcendence with the macabre reality of dying ("devour me/drown me in your arms"). As that process is complete, he claims his presence in the citadel, but the idea that this location of salvation and safety for the soul isn't necessarily within a Pearl-gated kingdom, but rather, inside the divine being itself, is an intriguing ending. // 8
Overall Impression: As Ne Obliviscaris continue to show off their instrumental finesse and their brutally intelligent/intelligently brutal ethos as musicians, the most important thing "Citadel" accomplishes as the band's second album is presenting a firm and united series of songs expected from any band that dons the "prog" prefix in their genre tag; this not only makes "Citadel" impressive at face value, but it makes the album a captivating rabbit-hole worth studying every nook and cranny of. Though it took so long for Ne Obliviscaris to finally take off as the new band everyone should know about (telling all complications that obstructed their path to f--k off), they're now ready to fly high, and "Citadel" is quite the ascendance. // 9
Aryan Death Man, on november 17, 2014 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 9
Lyrics: "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. // 10
Overall Impression: 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 // 10