Ne Obliviscaris – Exul (Album Review)

Ne Obliviscaris - Exul album review

Ne Obliviscarus – Exul 
Released: March 24, 2023


Marc “Xenoyr” Campbell // harsh vocals, lyrics
Tim Charles // violin, clean vocals
Matt Klavins // guitar
Benjamin Baret // lead guitar
Martino Garattoni // bass



It’s been six long tough years since Ne Obliviscaris released their last album Urn. In that time NeO have faced death, relationships breaking down, despair, the rigours of an international recording schedule, potential financial ruin and a worldwide pandemic that all threatened the very future of a band that, after the success of their 2017 opus and subsequent tour, was on the verge of conquering the world.

To begin with, former drummer Daniel Presland laid down his drums in Nashville, Tennessee in March 2020, as the pandemic demarcation line loomed. He managed to make it back into Australia before the country locked down, but American producer Mark Lewis, guitarist Benjamin Baret and bassist Martino Garattoni weren’t so lucky. At a time when they should have been putting into place the next stages of world domination, they were instead looking down the barrel of the end of Ne Obliviscaris. 

To make things worse, Presland amicably left the group in early 2022, but despite the circumstances NeO have persevered and after staring down into the abyss, they’ve emerged triumphant with the long awaited and highly anticipated 6 track album Exul, albeit two or so years later than they’d hoped.

So, has Exul been worth the wait? Bloody oath it has. On first and second listen it’s as if the band have ensured that all the sacrifices they’ve had to make have not been in vain. Additionally they’ve managed to elevate their sound beyond all previous releases. 

NeO kickstart proceedings with first single ‘Equus’. This isn’t so much a song as it is an epic all on it’s own. At over 12 minutes, this doesn’t just set the scene of what’s to come so much as it draws you in and immerses you. There’s so much going on right from the first beat of the drum, yet it all comes together with a remarkably balanced approach. Thunderous drums and bass lead into a moving modern thrash riff, is then brought back with Tim Charles heart wrenching violin and soothing clean vocals. The song rolls into a gallop that raises you up as it engulfs you and rounds itself out with a haunting dual vocal mantra that is overlapped with violin and guitar.

Bassist Martino Garattoni is the star on ‘Misericorde I – As The Flesh Falls’. The bass playing on display here is genuinely impressive throughout. A more up tempo number that has all the subtlety of a nuclear explosion and about halfway through the song there’s a breakdown that gives me flashbacks of the first time I heard ‘Master Of Puppets’ by Metallica. The violin acts as a bridge between Misericorde I and ‘Misericorde II – Anatomy of Quiescence’ and everything is reigned in to what sounds like joyous sorrow. Thrashing double kicks are traded in for a slow rim click as the violin makes way for guitarist Benjamin Baret, who pulls off some true seven-string heroics. Collectively this pair of songs comes in at nearly 17 minutes, which is quite an undertaking in itself but music of this calibre and scale is to be commended.

‘Suspyre’ eases us into the second half of the album but the energy and pace quickly ascends, preparing itself to destroy. The heaviest and most aggressive moments on this album are here. Xenoyr is unleashed on this track and the rest of NeO throw everything they have at him and while Tim Charles offers some reprieve, it’s Xen that absolutely destroys on this one. 

‘Graal’ is the second single to be released of this album and it is an absolute monster. The lads have been building emotional momentum throughout this whole album and the meticulous delivery from the band has been inch perfect and unflinching. Xenoyr’s harsh vocals counter Tim Charles cleans perfectly. They’re two completely different vocalists, both haunting in their own way. Dripping in despair, the pairs’ layered overlapping vocals anchor each song, whilst beautifully displaying the fine line between beauty and horror. Individually they’re brilliant, but when they combine like in ‘Graal’ and even more so in opener ‘Equus’, that is when they’re at their finest. Lyrically NeO are as haunting and beautiful as ever, closing this song out with “Gorge the blood of God. Blood of God of Self. Purge all poison. There is only dust. Humanity is gone”. Exquisite.

Where Xen was allowed to shine in ‘Suspyre’, now it’s Tim Charles turn to let rip on album closer ‘Ahnedonia’. His beautiful vocals are complimented perfectly by his haunting violin. A different beast to the rest of this record but still steeped in tragedy, this moving piece is a great finish to a very emotional ride.

Elegant, brutal and drenched in despair, this album is best served being heard from start to finish. To put it mildly, this is beautiful. It’s filled to the brim with heartbreak, anguish, torment, suffering and exquisite pain. All the gear that the Cenobites in Hellraiser bang on about. It’s graceful yet brutal without being abrasive. 

Sonically it was always going to be difficult to improve on Urn, but I think they’ve done so on this one. Its meatier, heavier and a more fuller sound. The extra time spent filling out these songs has benefited Exul greatly.

Ne Obliviscaris - Exul album review

Ne Obliviscaris – Exul tracklisting

  1. Equus
  2. Misericorde I – As the Flesh Falls
  3. Misericorde II – Anatomy of Quiescence
  4. Suspyre
  5. Graal
  6. Anhedonia

Rating 8.5/10
Exul is out March 24 via Seasons Of Mist. Pre-Order here
Review by Duane James @DuaneJamesTattoo

Ne Obliviscaris 2023 album review

Chip in a buck or two for the WoS crew!

Want to help Wall of Sound grow and deliver more killer content? Support us by chipping in as little as a dollar to help!


About duanejames (60 Articles)
Wall of Sound's resident Heavy Metal Bogan. Father. Husband. Professional Tattooer. Untrained Artist. Part time writer. Full time fanboy.