Sound — 10
Ne Obliviscaris describe their sound as "music of many extremes including darkness, light, intensity, melody, brutalist and beauty." As pretentious as that may sound, their description is spot on. While the band could very simply be described as black metal, there is something distinctly Insomium or Opeth-like about their music in the seemlessly-blended heavy and acoustic sections, as well as counterpointal sections that bring to mind a more melodic version of Cynic or Spiral Architect (the members seem to be just as talented as these groups as well; Cygnus is a proficient bass tapper, and Dan was the winner of an Australian Fastest Feet competition). Indeed, the "black metal" tag misses the largely progressive nature of the music. If the extremely long songs didn't tip you off (As Icicles Fall, the shortest song on this 3-song demo, clocks in at over 9 minutes), then the sonic characteristics of the music certainly would. For example, while Tapestry of the Starless Abstract, the opening song of the EP, starts with a trem-picked riff and high-pitched screams that often characterize the black metal genre, it quickly shifts into an amalgamation of distortion, acoustic guitars, melodic bass lines, and violins. And, they blend them perfectly; each member can do his own thing, and it won't sound chaotic or ugly. Then, everything falls back into place again. This style is prevalent throughout the record, and adds much to the replay value. Every time you play the song, you notice something new, whether it be a interesting bass lick or vocal melody or interaction between said bass lick and vocal melody.
Lyrics — 10
"But wait! Does all of that musicianship mean the lyrics suffer?" Nope. The lyrics and vocals are crafted with the same effort as the instrumentation. If I may quote Forget Not: "Down by the waters, beneath the willow drapery/Cold, timeless princeCloaked in raven wings/With two penny moons, passage through the boatman/Across starlit waters, where dreamscapes are golden." The imagery paints the pictures clearly in your head. This is a skill so many lyricists lack; they can tell you what's happening, but can't show it. The images are amplified by the music as well; for example, the lyrics of Tapestry, which deal with the exploration of a person's darker side, are fairly depressing until the end of the song, at which point the music takes an uplifting turn to coincide with the character's ascent from the pits of his despair. The one issue I can see with the lyrics is the complexity of the language, which can hide the meaning of the song. However, this can be solved simply by paying attention in English class. As I said earlier, this band consists of some very talented people, and they use their abilities to the fullest, even if it scares some people off. However, this isn't usually an issue among metal fans. Both vocalists (Xenoyr on growls, Tim on cleans) bear an impressive set of pipes. Xenoyr goes through a range of high shrieks and low growls, and Tim has impeccable control over his melodies, as well as a very unique voice.
Overall Impression — 10
This is one of those CDs that takes a while to fully appreciate, but hits you like a raging bull on crack when you finally grasp it. Each song as equally impressive, although Tapestry of the Starless Abstract is my favorite at the moment. Every piece of the music is placed precisely where it belongs; there are no sections that feel out of place here, and it makes it very hard to find flaws. The only thing I hate is that there are no copies left to purchase (don't worry, they don't care if you download it, and links can be found on the Ne Obliviscaris thread in the metal forum). This extremely talented group of musicians has released something totally unique, and hopefully are very close to receiving the recognition they so rightfully deserve.