Ne Obliviscaris are without doubt one of the most beloved extreme metal bands these days. After two critically acclaimed albums in Portal Of I and Citadel, the Australian band is about to release their third full-length: Urn. Based on this popularity, Pete, Jake, and Inter decided to sit down for a podcast (will be available in the next days) and a roundtable review. Check out what we all thought about the album below!
My history with NeO is short and my knowledge of their occupied space in metal limited, but my appreciation for their talent is untethered. I was excited to review their record as more of an observer to their music, rather than a die hard fan. After some teething issues with my first few playthroughs, I have to say, I’m very impressed with their latest effort: Urn. What teething issues you ask? Well, with a lot of musicians I cover at It Djents, most records bring forth a progression in style which diverges from the band’s previous efforts. Upon my first listen to Urn, I felt the band hadn’t changed anything or created a record anymore special than Citadel, which is easily my favourite record by the band.
However, after numerous listens, I realized that the desires I had of the album – and by that I mean for it to be unique, bombastic, and fresh to the ears – was merely just my inner prog screaming out for change. At the end of the day, the band is insanely talented, occupying and holding onto their niche sound like a crack squad of gamers holding an objective in a CTF game. The band creates soundscapes that, to me, sound almost fantasy inspired, with the folky influenced acoustic guitars and viola creating an atmosphere that lurches from oppressive to magical in an instant. The prime example of this on Urn is played out on the middle two tracks, “Intra Venus” and “Eyrie”. The diverse clean & harsh vocals paint a story for the listener, almost telling a light vs dark story in the way the vocals are played off the instruments. That being said, I did find the clean vocals in “Libera Pt 1” to be a little too theatrical and distracting from the great instrumentation, therefore I couldn’t really connect with the song too much. In “Intra Venus” though, Tim really dials back the theatrics, before putting in a really strong performance for the remainder of the album.
The instrumentation and the way the songs are mixed have certainly gotten tighter since Citadel, with the new bassist Robin making his mark on the record, his bass warbling at the front and centre of each full song. It’s a brilliant sound, complemented by the impressive guitar solos that soar away from the mix every time they are introduced. However, I did feel that while the mix was tighter and the soundscape more focused, the band have shaved away what I could only describe as the epicness of their sound. Gone is the wide ranging mix found in Citadel, with the instruments packed in closer to the listeners ears.
All things considered, and with the nitpicking aside, this album is great and fully deserving of a place on the NeO mantlepiece. Fans of the band will love it, especially if they wanted more of the same. Newcomers will find songs like “Intra Venus” and “Eyrie” accessible and great to get a hold of, whilst die-hard fans will blow their loads to the title tracks of the album “Urn Pt. 1&2”.
Personal Score: 8.5/10
Undertaking the task of reviewing one of the most anticipated extreme/progressive metal albums of the year is quite daunting. The fact that I am such a fan of this band and their previous two albums, Portal of I and Citadel, makes this all the more challenging. Ne Obliviscaris (who shall be referred to as NeO going forward) is an Australian metal band whose technical proficiency and songwriting prowess has helped them seize the throne of extreme progressive metal, at least in my eyes.
Upon hearing the first single, “Intra Venus”, I was quite giddy. The more I listened to the track the more I was amazed and the more I anticipated the record in full. After what seems like an eternity of waiting for their third full-length record, it is finally upon us. It was with great joy that I began listening to the album for the review. After spinning it once, something strange happened: I was kind of, sort of….underwhelmed. My initial take on the six tracks was that it was unmistakably NeO, but it also failed to astonish me as did their initial releases. Then came the task of determining if this was a result of my own internal hype, or if the record was truly inferior.
As I listened to the album again and again, I realized that this was a much more intimate affair. The production and songwriting lacked the epicness of their first outings, but it grew in intimacy. While song length and overall compositional awareness did not diminish, the confidence grew – this is precise and controlled record. Opening with “Libera (Part 1) – Saturnine Spheres”, Urn gives a searing ten-minute introduction that mixes technicality and melody in a way that only this band can pull off. Dan Presland’s blast beats are quite literally mind-blowing, and Tim’s clean vocals have been stepped up tremendously. “Libera (Part II) – Ascent of Burning Moths” is an instrumental segue that showcases Tim’s violin playing, as well demonstrating the band’s understanding of pacing a record. I was realizing that perhaps my initial unenthusiastic response was more my fault than NeO’s.
The real standout(s) on the record is/are the “Urn” composition(s) that takes up the last two places on the album. “Urn (Part 1) – And Within The Void We Are Breathless” is a nearly eight minute song that is perhaps one of the most dynamic on the album, at times clearly delineating the meloding and harsh sections of the song. It’s a rhythmic powerhouse that got me firmly on board with the record. It should be noted that Xen’s black metal style vocals are top-notch on this track. The second act of the song fades in and serves up a solid exit from the album.
In conclusion, this is an insanely talented band that has added another impressive record to their resume. I can safely say that my initial reaction wasn’t totally accurate. This album is a grower, and that is simply not what I expected. I have a feeling that Urn is going to bring a new level of awareness for Ne Obliviscaris.
Personal Score: 8.5/10
I remember my first encounter with NeO with great joy. There was an uproar through the online metal world about this new Australian band that was about to release their first full-length album. When Portal Of I dropped, oh dear, I was incredibly into it. NeO‘s amazing mixture of black metal, progressive metal, folk, and classical elements was fresh and unique. They continued their rise with Citadel, and you can imagine, the expectations for Urn were pretty high.
I’ll be honest with you: After the first rotation, I was underwhelmed with Urn. Something fresh was missing and the band settled down too much in their comfort zone. It took me several rotations to realize that the band created their own sound long before, and just tried to perfect it. Their sense for conceptual compositions never fail to amaze me, and the depth and richness of Urn evolves to become something extraordinary.
I’m not about to repeat what Jake and Pete had to say, because we are pretty much on the same page with this amazing effort (also, the review is getting pretty long, so I will curtail this a bit). Let me tell you: “Libera Part I & Part II” is some of the best stuff NeO have ever written, and you all should check out the album when it drops. If you are already a fan of the band, this album will be a success for you, and if you aren’t familiar with the band, it’s about time to finally check them out.
With “Urn”, NeO prove again that they are one of the most important modern metal bands and can’t do wrong. It’s filigree, heavy, and packed with amazing melody arrangements and a great vocal performance. The overall timbre of the record is consistent and reasonable, and the pacing is extraordinary. Don’t sleep on this!
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Notable Tracks: “Intra Venus”; “Libera Part I”; “Libera Part II”
FFO: Xanthochroid, Enslaved, Ikuinen Kaamos