Sound — 10
It's only every so often that a musical entity comes along and pushes the boundaries of a genre. Sometimes they only bend the rules, finding a comfortable little niche on the outskirts of their preferred style. Sometimes, they break them completely. The former is loved by some, hated by some, maybe remembered, maybe not. The latter is nothing but respected. Rules are meant to be broken. Hailing from the Australian metal scene, Ne Obliviscaris (NeO) have done exactly that. The genre handbook is in the garbage, the stereotypes and expectations cast aside. What NeO have created with their critically acclaimed three song demo is nothing short of a masterpiece. Something that defies all preset notions. Something that makes listeners fully and completely aware of the sounds ushering from the speakers, each and every note: new, refreshing, introspective and truly unique. The sound is difficult to describe. It's cold and lifeless, yet filled with hope and spirit. It's melancholic and endlessly somber, yet passionately uplifting and serenely enchanting. It's a sonic landscape, a journey through the intricate web of human emotion and the undying fire that burns within each and every member. The first song, Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract is a breathtaking epic, laced with sorrow, driven by frustration, exploding with energy. Drawing from the various styles that are the genetic make-up of this band, the song begins with a barrage of apocalyptic black metal, all instruments running at full throttle. However, this is where all the expected sounds of aggressive metal come to an end, and the enigma that is Ne Obliviscaris steps in it's place. Breaking into a musical flourish that weaves intelligent composition with melancholic and classically fueled melodies, the listener becomes overwhelmed and engulfed by the enchantingly stoic and darkly serene atmospheres. Each of the three songs follow suit, combining a tonal assault of syncopated melodies and deeply sorrowful harmonies, laced within the context of an almost jazz-oriented groove, topped off by a masterful violin player in Tim Charles and a serenading classical guitar. The demo's second track, Forget Not, portrays all of these attributes proudly, starting off with the beautiful ambiance of Corey King's classical guitars. One by one, each member of the band slowly emerges into the collective sound, adding their own unique nuance to what starts off as a simple guitar melody, evolving the song continually and flawlessly. The masterful and revolutionary bass playing by Brendan Brown sets the free-flowing tone of the passage, while Tim Charles creates an isolated dissonance with his violin, an introspective soundscape that will captivate any mature listener. As the song builds to it's aggressive 12-minute climax, drummer Dan Presland fires away on double bass at nearly 900 beats per minutes, while band founder and vocal mastermind Xenoyr screams away his anger and frustrations over the lofty yet powerful falsetto vocals provided by Tim.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics to the album are, ironically, beyond words. I'm currently enrolled in a college level English class, and even my teacher, who proudly boasts of her Masters Degree in English and of her various achievments in literary study, was truly impressed. Consequently, I was allowed to choose Ne Obliviscaris lyrics for a class project, one in which other students had to decipher the passage in which I chose. Xenoyr manages to create such an ambient effect through his words; such imagery and perception, a depth that equals that of the music itself. I myself have never read better, nor as heavily intricate and complicated lyrics from any band, and I can't say I enjoy any lyrics more than I do these (lyrics are one of the main things I look at in a band.) They flow like the most sorrowful poetry, painting a passionate yet bleakly colored mosaic of images, experiences, exploration and an almost awe inspiring wonder. I can't really explain much more...I'd rather just give you samples. From "Tapestry of the Starless Abstract": "I call to the sirens/Echoing in sweet laughter/Broken hopes 'neath the surface/With haunting eyes they stare... they stare/Through black waters, weaving tresses/A figurehead warped, stares homesick afar/ Never depths... my dear despair/Never depthsmy dear despair." And from "Forget Not": "Masquerading, the grey vultures/Coalescing in black swansongs/...Of the dead/...As the dead sigh/Therein the quickening shadows/Kisses upon lifeless fingers/...As the dead sigh/...As the dead sigh/...Of always/As the dead sigh/Over the frontier of always/In remembrance, they are anthems/...The anthems/...Forget not/...For those gone/...Forget not/Never..." Of course, you'd need the context of the rest of the song to get the complete imagery. But, overall, I've never read lyrics that compliment the music so much. In a word: amazing.
Overall Impression — 10
Its multitude of components and the absolutely astonishing musicianship make The Aurora Veil an extremely satisfying listen, but it's not something that will come easily. Each listen will reveal new aspects to every song; new melodies, new harmonies, new textures and landscapes orchestrated and executed by one of the most creative bands I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. It's an acquired taste, but once you penetrate the fortress of musical prowess, it's unlikely that you'll find anything quite like it. Ne Obliviscaris truly has something special here. Combining their masterful musicianship with dark, brooding, and insanely emotional compositions, this could be the band that redefines the current genre of progressive metal. With lyrics that flow like the most melancholic poetry and the soundtrack to match, this band has combined all the key elements to create a gem of a demo. The Aurora Veil has got the metal community in its irresistible clutches, and has everyone clamoring for more. Expect a full-length in earl.