Australian metal band, Ne Obliviscaris, have released their 3rd album, simply called Urn. Urn was released via Season of Mist on the 27th of October. It follows the excellent album Citadel, which came out in 2014.
Ne Obliviscaris are about as controversial a band as you can get. Their mix of genres and styles have garnered a horde of hungry fans who admire the band’s creative and dynamic approach to music. Others, perhaps purists, struggle to understand what the band are trying to achieve. They hear diluted attempts at different genres mixed together rather than a band who are expert in just one thing. Ne Obliviscaris also pissed off a collection of fans for creating a crowd funding, Patreon account in order to get paid via donations for making music. You know how we metal fans can get so completely unfairly a few people turned on the band for daring to try and get paid a little extra to help them exist.
Still, I do love a bit of controversy and I personally like what the band are trying to do. For those who haven’t had much dealings with Ne Obliviscaris, they mix styles. They have a heavy side which touches on black metal with blasting riffs and furious growls. They also have a clean melodic side which focuses on clean singing, a violin and a little acoustic guitar. It isn’t abnormal for a band to mix heavy with melodic but Ne Obliviscaris push it to extremes with long, atmospheric tracks that bring thunder and lightning down upon you before parting the clouds and allowing a ray of sunshine through in the form of classical, folk esque melody. They do also then have an almost prog like rock sound where the two extremes converge.
Ne Obliviscaris today are Tim Charles on the violin and clean vocals with Xenoyr on the heavy, growled vocals. Matt Klavins is on rhythm guitar with Benjamin Baret on lead. Daniel Presland is the drummer and the bass was looked after by Robin Zielhorst. Robin stepped in to cover the duties of Brendan Brown who was fired due to some unsavoury allegations to do with domestic violence. Martino Garattoni will take over bass duties for the band’s upcoming tour in early 2018.
Ne Obliviscaris have a history of writing really long songs mixed in with smaller songs. There isn’t much middle ground with them. On the Citadel album we have 3 songs that were sub 4 minutes each and then 3 more, one which was 16 minutes long, one that is 10 minutes long and one that is 13 minutes long. Urn sees the band reign that in and have a more standard album structure in terms of song length with 2 near 10 minute long ones and 3 others around the seven minute mark. There are 6 tracks on Urn and it is around 46 minutes long in total.
The album starts off with a double header called Libera Part 1 (Saturnine Spheres) and Libera Part 2 (Ascent of Burning Moths). Part 1 is just under 10 minutes and Part 2 is the shortest song on the album at just over 2 and a half minutes long. It is a great way to start the album. Part 1 starts with a gentle melody before exploding into a huge sounding riff with blazing drums and screeching guitars. The vocals come in and they are heavy and dark. We are firmly in the black/extreme metal camp here. The riffs are heavy but verses are intersected by soaring solos that wouldn’t be out of place on a power metal album.
As the song progresses it moves into clean singing over the heavy bassy riff and thrashing drums. This fades into a long and fascinating violin solo that manages to sound guitar like at points. Nearing it’s end, the violin builds in pitch and power and all of the instruments come crashing back in with a huge crescendo. It sounds awesome and you feel like you are hearing something special. Part 2 is the polar opposite and is purely a violin solo. It sounds like classical music and contrasts the heavy moments on the first track perfectly. It is both interesting to listen to and full of emotion.
Intra Venus is one of the more accessible tracks on the album and follows a more standard structure in there is a heavy verse, clean chorus, heavy verse etc.. but there is a lot more going on. The mix of blasting drum beats and furious riffing with heavy vocals is furiously vicious. The choruses are almost palette cleansing. The softer instrumental section that leads into a clean section is pleasant to listen to and it’s build up back to a heavy explosion of guitars and drums is awesome. The song ends to a mix of all instruments and both clean and unclean vocals in tandem which is brilliant.
Eyrie is the longest track on the album at around 12 minutes long. It starts off with a folk sounding war drum and violin intro. Clean vocals come in over the gentle rhythm as we are eased in over the first 4 or 5 minutes. A sudden guitar screech suddenly throws in a huge sounding riff and the drums rip into a wonderfully heavy and fast beat. The vocals stay clean over the heavy music but with roared backing and we have occasional drops in volume to allow the violin to take the lead. It is an interesting and creative journey of a song. One you find something new in with each listen.
The album ends with another double header. This time we have Urn Part 1 (And Within the Void we are Breathless and Urn Part 2 (As Embers Dance in Our Eyes). Part 1 has a bass heavy tone at the start that turns into virtuoso guitar soloing. There is a nice rhythm to the main riff and the drums sound good. The vocals are predominantly heavy throughout and there are some really crunching sections though it never really excites as much as the previous tracks.
Part 2 is another heavy track with great riffs and intense drumming. There are loads of guitar lines that make you sit up and take notice and there is a phenomenal solo. Some of the roars are huge and this track probably has the darkest, blackest metal sounding vocals on the whole album. We get a mix of vocals near the middle as the song moves into a progressive rock sound with clean vocals. Another solo come sin near the end that builds until one final roar of vocals come sin to close the album.
Urn is a quite astonishing album. There is so much going on, you almost feel like it shouldn’t work. It should be disjointed and messy. It isn’t though. Instead it is interesting, creative, exciting and heavy. The album is structured well and some of the songs are perhaps more accessible then on previous albums. As a whole, Urn should please old fans and convince new ones to. It is one of the more exciting albums I have heard this year.
Urn isn’t perfect though. The song Urn Part 1 fails to excite as much as the rest of the album, despite being a good song. My other issue with it is that there are occasions where the recording sounds a little amateurish. All the instruments sound fine and compliment each other so it is hard to put my finger on what the problem is. Just at points in songs, the mix or the mastering process sounds a little off.
Still, it hardly affected my enjoyment at all. Do yourself a favour and listen to this album. It is probably going to be in a lot of top lists at the end of this year.
You can pick up a copy of Urn from Season of Mist here. It is also available on all the usual streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. You can grab a copy from the Amazon and Apple links below as well. Check out Ne Obliviscaris on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information on them and their music. Be sure to give them a like and a follow while you are there.
Urn by Ne Obliviscaris (Season of Mist)