December 7, 2012
Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I (2012)
Ne Obliviscaris is a 6-piece band from Melbourne, Australia who've pretty much just trampled my conviction that nothing will top 2012's Incurso by Spawn of Possession in terms of sheer technicality. Whereas Incurso is a fucking ridiculously complex technical death metal album, Portal of I manages to be a fucking ridiculously complex progressive/melodic death/black metal with jazz, flamenco, classical and Oriental music influences. Fuck me, right?
There's just so much stuff going on this album, that it's next to impossible to describe. First off, most of the songs are over or around the 10 minute mark, which should already let you know that this isn't an easycore band. There are two vocalists in this band, one doing harsh vocals and another one doing clean vocals, and they both duel off constantly in the songs, which creates some really intense vocal trade-offs. They don't overdo it, though, but instead leave ample space for many extended instrumental passages. The clean vocalist also plays the violin, which often takes on the central role during the slow, acoustic passages. When the guitarists aren't playing classical and acoustic guitars, they're engaging in heavy tremolo-picked riffs and highly intricate, intertwining arpeggios and solos that, along with the violin and clean vocals, propel the songs to beautiful melodic heights.
The rhythm section is simply dreamy: the drummer does everything from hyper-blastbeats to elaborate jazzy drumming that reminds of Cynic's Sean Reinert work; meanwhile, the bassist is, as you may expect, another one of those monster octopus-fingered bassists who is in a world all of his own, tearing through miles of labyrinthic notes on his fretless bass, adding a whole new dimension to the music. The long duration of the songs means that the band is able to engage in complex and dynamic compositions, constantly shifting gears between extreme metal riffing, violin-driven passages, delicate acoustic parts and climactic endings when everything comes together at the same time, making for some truly memorable musical moments that will leave any prog-freak moist with desire.
Portal of I is definitely one of those albums that rewards compulsive listeners, with each new listen revealing more details and subtle features in the music that you may have missed the first time around, so it's actually okay to obsess over it, like I have over the past few days. Ne Obliviscaris have created something unique and special and their debut album is without a shadow of a doubt one of the absolute best releases of 2012. They even made me doubt the greatness of Gorod when it comes to my personal favorites, and that's no easy feat. Portal of I is, however, an album that requires a lot of commitment and involvement on your part in order for it to truly shine, so make sure you listen to it in its entirety, in a quiet room. And be ready to say "Holy shit!" a lot.