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(Season of Mist)

scott adams

ne oblivscaris

Australian progressive extremists haven't had the easiest path to recognition. Hamstrung by their country's at times senseless immigration regulations, the band sat motionless for some time while (five years, more or less, actually) waiting for clearance for their French guitarist Benjamin Baret to join them in the Great Southern Land.

Luckily they didn't spend that time eating four and twenty pies and watching reruns of classic Neighbours episodes; As 'Citadel' bears out, Ne Obliviscaris is a band now reaping the fruits of the hardship, and revelling more than most in the sheer bloody-minded guts and determination it takes to put out a world class release.

You read that right; 'Citadel' is pure class from start to finished, a lesson in extreme Metal in six parts that completely raises the bar for bands putting this kinda stuff out in the future. As much indebted to the pomp rock of Kansas (vocalist Tim Charles sublime violin playing is the icing on this record's cake, evoking the legendary Robbie Steinhardt at every turn) and Rush as to death Metal's heroes of later vintage, this album hits the bullseye in a fashion that would have had Jim Bowen weeping tears of joy.

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The key here is the musicianship. Sure we've come to expect top-notch chops from every Tom, Dick and Portnoy passing themselves off as 'progressive' in 2014, but most of these fast-fingered fools wouldn't know a melody, much less a tune if they savaged bedroom-coddled knackers.

Ne Obliviscaris, whilst able effortlessly to mix it with the heaviest kids on the prog block (just listen to he wounded bull roars of 'harsh' vocalist Xenoyr for further proof) are so extravagantly skilled that they are able to turn into the heaviest Metal into the most shimmering, gossamer prog in the blink of an eye – the sixteen minute long 'Triptych Lux' being a gorgeous case in point, as the track writhes it's serpentine way through every conceivable mood and ntion before drifting in reverie to it's subdued conclusion. This is frighteningly good stuff.

Guitarists Baret and Matt Klavins deserve mention too, as an explosive duo whose ability to mesh with one another in a series of set piece barrages intermingled with fluid soloing is truly a joy to behold, but time and again the ear is snagged by the delicious playing of violinist Charles. It is he who weaves a Spanish gypsy fantasia in the middle of this otherwise devastating album – the track 'Reveries' - that is easily the most arresting thing I've heard on a Heavy Metal album all year.

If you are familiar with Ne O's 2012 debut, 'Portal Of I', you'll have some idea of what to expect here. But only some idea.

And if you are so far unaware of this most special of bands, I suggest you get out to your local record n'tape exchange soonest to invest in this album; my words are sadly nowhere near enough to adequately describe the majesty that awaits your ears.

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