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Ne Obliviscaris - "Citadel" (CD)

Ne Obliviscaris - "Citadel" CD cover image

"Citadel" track listing:

1. Painters of the Tempest (Part I): Wyrmholes
2. Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
3. Painters of the Tempest (Part III): Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb
4. Pyrrhic
5. Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
6. Devour Me, Colossus (Part II): Contortions

Reviewed by on November 19, 2014

"...the sophomore outing from Ne Obliviscaris sees the Australian outfit surpassing even its storied debut and shows a band that has a very bright future in the metal scene."

“Portal Of I” was one of the knockout releases of 2012, seeing a criminally unknown band finally get a major release out there to shake up the complacent metal scene. The word “eclectic” doesn't even begin to cover that album, which went all across the metal map in 10 – 12 minute songs. Now the follow-up, “Citadel,” is here, and Ne Obliviscaris doesn't disappoint, offering more complex and incredibly varied metal journeys without repeating the exact same style and sound as the first album.

“Citadel” is fantastic at evoking very clear and specific moods, opening with the darkly melodic “Wyrmholes.” Somewhere between melancholy and actively disturbing, the track utilizes synths and off-kilter violins in a unique way, drawing the audience in before exploding with technical death metal on “Triptych Lux.” Of course the sound doesn't stay in tech-death territory for long, as this 16 minute monster runs the gamut, bringing out smooth clean singing, jazzy bass-driven segments, and more.

Whereas the last album played hopscotch across just about every style and sub-genre out there, “Citadel” shows a maturation by keeping things slightly more grounded. There are still multiple transitions between styles on every song, but those wobbly strings from the opening track continuously pop up across the disc at opportune moments. Whether working alongside heavy metal instrumentation or the acoustic guitars on tracks like “Blackholes,” the strings are a port in the storm, providing a familiar presence across an otherwise highly eclectic album.

This compromise between the two extremes lets the album keep up the avant-garde experimentation, but also means there's enough similarity between the songs that you don't ever feel like each track is from a different band. In the various styles to be found on “Citadel,” there will be music that appeals equally to fans of Haken as to fans of Obscura. Blending prog, extreme death metal, and symphonic metal into one smooth experience, the sophomore outing from Ne Obliviscaris sees the Australian outfit surpassing even its storied debut and shows a band that has a very bright future in the metal scene.

Highs: The band progresses from its insane debut with a more grounded album that's still highly eclectic.

Lows: If you only dig either jazzy prog or extreme tech-death you may not love the marriage of the two together.

Bottom line: Somehow Ne Obliviscaris managed to surpass the already-amazing debut "Portal Of I" with another highly varied release that swings between prog, tech-death, and symphonic metal.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)