The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
Fabryary 15th, 2018
Supports: Circles and The Loom of Time
Ne Obliviscaris, a band that epitomises extreme. They encapsulate death metal, progressive metal, symphonic metal and extreme virtuosity. I have been fortunate enough to catch NeO before and it took a number of days for my lower jaw to actually realign with my face. It is impossible not to be impressed by these guys live; and in the studio for that matter. To date, they have released three studio albums, Portal of I (2012), Citadel (2014) and the recent Urn (October 2017). All of these releases have rightfully received critical acclaim as well as cementing a fierce fan base.
It is hard to bring together a decent crowd in Newcastle throughout the week, however, tonight this crowd didn’t receive the memo. The faithful Cambridge Hotel is quite full tonight and this is great to see. The crowd itself is a crucible of metal fans, Uni students, and with all due respect, nerdy progressive musos.
The main support for tonight is CIRCLES, another prog-metal outfit reigning from Melbourne (who recently announced their signing to the new Wild Thing Records); unfortunately, I missed the opening act The Loom of Time tonight. But these guys have been around since 2010 and have a number of releases under their belt and this was the first time seeing the band for me. The band have a really strong stage presence and they are a very tight unit. What struck me about the band straight away was the vocal delivery and the rhythm section. I really can’t believe that I had never heard of these guys before tonight but I guess this is just the nature of the strong Australian metal scene at present. They are definitely a band to catch.
Now to Ne Obliviscaris. By the time the band hit the stage the room is packed and there is definitely an eagerness in the air, I think a lot of people know what they are in for tonight. The band open with a number of tracks from their latest offering, Urn, and it is evident very quickly that the new songs fit right into the back catalogue, if not as an extension musically of previous releases. New songs that stood out, were the title track ‘Urn‘, as well as ‘Inner View‘. Again tonight the musicianship of the band was quite amazing, if not ridiculous in parts, even though the mix is not necessarily being friendly to the complexity of the music, especially the vocals which needed to be louder.
I really enjoyed the vocal contrast of Xenoyr (death metal vocals) and Tim Charles (clean vocals), as I always have in the past. I know that this concept is not exactly new, but within Ne Obliviscaris it just works. The vocals don’t always sit nicely within the soundscape, and at times it is quite opposed, however this is the nature of progressive metal. There isn’t really a weak link within the musicianship of this band, but tonight the touring bass player, Martino Grattoni, really stood out for me. He has an amazing style and fits so well in to the band. The other is Daniel Presland on drums, his proficiency and ability to hold the band together through such dynamic and varied signature changes and the dark and light sound scapes is quite extraordinary.
The audience really hung on to every note tonight, and believe me, there were a lot of them! There is really no time to be bored at a Ne Obliviscaris gig and I am sure that no one went away disappointed. It is really hard to picture what is in store for NeO as they are a very “genre specific” act, however, it is impossible to ignore them or not be drawn in to their music, as both outstanding musicians, and the imagery that their music conjures. I really hope that these guys get some serious overseas attention and spread their sound on a global level. Without a shadow of a doubt, they deserve the international success their skill and music demands.
Gig Review by Mark Snedden
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn Tour
Friday, February 16: Manning Bar, Sydney
Saturday, February 17: The Triffid, Brisbane
Saturday, February 24: Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth