Album Review: Ne Obliviscaris - 'Portal of I'

21 May 2012 | 9:50 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Impressive release from enduring locals.

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Australia's standing as a mere footnote in the geographics of heavy metal needs a stern re-working. To say that Australian metal is inferior is now grossly misguided and sadly disproportionate.

Sure, when you associate black metal you think of Scandinavia and when you think of thrash your mind gravitates to the Bay Area. But, domestically speaking we are seeing locals offer impressive, unique and now innovative releases worthy of a similar acclaim.

It's this 'have your cake and eat it too' idea that presents the listeners with international quality sounds but delivered by locally produced artists.

As far as a debut studio album, 'Portal of I' is long awaited. Five years since Ne Obliviscaris' three track demo is a significant gap. While, a tedious, ongoing (and now resolved) Visa battle regarding French-born guitarist Benjamin Baret has only added to the various sub-plots surrounding the eventual release. Fortunately, the quality and final product has not been affected adversely in anyway.

'Portal of I' sounds like it's spawned directly from the icy and cavernous surrounds of Norway or Sweden. It's part black metal, part prog and in other moments just simply metal.

'And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope', at eleven and a half minutes, packs everything in. Half-way through things get memorable when the rhythm builds to a crescendo before transitioning into a riff/double kick pairing that almost has the feel of Metallica's 'One' to it. 'Forget Not' is one of the highlights, with a harmonic beginning showcasing violinist/singer Tim Charles's vocal range. 'Xenoflux' is the heaviest track on the full-length along with opener 'Tapestry of the Starless Abstract'.

There's no handouts or token acclaim here. This review could simply present itself as a blank canvas with a sole link to the band's music and nothing else. You can hype 'Portal of I' or you can quietly downplay it, the response will still be the same. This is a brilliantly concise, evocative release that delivers across the board - compositionally, structurally and production-wise.

There's intensity tempered by balance. Complexity levelled by simplicity. And, quality aligned with accessibility. 'Portal of I' just seems to work whichever way you look (or listen) to it.

Ne Oblivisicaris present an album that justifies early praise and should serve as representation of a band doing things the right way. Perhaps it's an entirely subjective and early call, but this is one of, if not, the Australian metal album of the year.

1. Tapestry of the Starless Abstract 

2. Xenoflux 

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3. Of the Leper Butterflies 

4. Forget Not 

5. And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope

6. As Icicles Fall 

7. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise