Guest review by Catherine Morris
Portal of I is the long-awaited debut from Australian progressive extreme metallers Ne Obliviscaris, and what a debut it is. Beauty and brutality go hand in hand in this exceptional offering, which is sonically somewhat schizophrenic: at times tipping over into melodious, dreamy post-BM territory; at others brimming with pure, raw ferocity and despair.
The band’s musicianship and technicality are pretty much impossible to find fault with. The elegant juxtaposition of sounds, like Tim Charles‘ haunting, high-pitched violin layered with Xenoyr‘s screams, and the contrasting melodic and heavy passages, are what make Ne Obliviscaris a cut above the rest – all the elements are well-balanced and used sparsely for maximum effect. The songs themselves are massive, living breathing things: opening track ‘Tapestry of the Starless Abstract’ swings between delicate, stripped-down acoustic sections and densely layered, aggressive metal with growling vocals. Meanwhile, the intro of ‘Of the Leper Butterflies’ is mellow, almost jazzy, with an improvised-feel, while ‘Forget Not’, the longest track on the album, pretty much covers all bases as it grows from acoustic guitars to heart-breaking ascending strings to blackened screaming vocals. It’s rare for highly technical and progressive music to be able to convey and provoke so many emotions, but Portal… more than accomplishes this. Everything is here – agony, frustration, euphoria…
Overall, this album is a triumph. Its complexity may make it a little hard for some people to swallow, but Portal of I is a hugely ambitious and multifaceted debut which is not only a great achievement for the band, but also sure to become a seminal album of the genre.
Catherine Morris is a regular contributor to the UK webzine Thisisnotascene.com