Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel

Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel

Ne Obliviscaris are an example of a band whose unique style automatically places them a head above their peers, even before they reach the songwriting stage. Although passionately executed progressive metal is, to some extent, avantgarde in its nature and effect, Ne Obliviscaris provide a more literal interpretation of avantgarde progressive metal, spiced above with tons of contrasting influences. Although it feels like more of Ne Obliviscaris’ musical ideas tend to be pulled from the avantgarde end of their fusion on Citadel, the progressive (black/death) metal nexus of Portal of I doesn’t feel the slightest bit watered down. In this case, the mixing of death, black, prog and avantgarde conventions is solute to the point where one does not breathe without other; Ne Obliviscaris have created themselves one of the most unique and convincing styles I’ve ever heard from a metal band, and perhaps there have been no bands since who have successfully managed to reach the same level of organic perfection with the blending (Opeth and Between the Buried and Me fall under the same category).

Although their relatively monopolistic hold on this specific sound give them sufficient stopping power to have excused the need for consistent innovation, some change is evident in the band’s approach on Citadel, compared with their 2012 debut. Citadel may be seen to have taken a decidedly more sombre approach to the atmosphere; whereas Portal of I felt incredibly self-conscious of its stylistic niche, Citadel draws back on the playfulness of the sound. Although it should still make for a head-scratching experience for newcomers, they are more tactical regarding the use of ambient, atmospheric effects and overt weirdness here. When compared to the debut, Citadel feels more mature and, indeed, more grounded in its approach. In a broad sense, it feels like Ne Obliviscaris have reached adulthood with their style.

Veteran listeners of avant-metal should recall a time when they thought a band had great ideas, but weren’t able to tie them together properly. Ne Obliviscaris have been able to circumvent this common fault, bringing everything under the sun together and making them work as one. It’s a painfully rare feat in this genre to have good flow. The songs on Citadel eschew traditional (comfortable) structures in exchange for something rhapsodic and consistently adventurous. Most of these songs unfold as would a theatrical performance, riding the music’s emotional ebb and flow, rather than relying on recurring motifs or themes to give the material a sense of completeness. This apparent liberation from traditional form is perhaps the most “outside the box” characteristic Ne Obliviscaris have going for them. Approaching their musical ideas individually, their adventurous experimentation isn’t as obvious. The excellent, over 16-minute monster Triptych Lux comes to mind, a chaotic labyrinth of a song that jumps between genres like a bipolar kangaroo. Somehow, the rhapsodic strain of death, black, technical and prog metal ideas fuse together into something wholly satisfying and constantly engaging. Throughout the album, this constant challenging of genre boundaries is tied together with a playfulness often sorely lacked by similarly experimental bands.

Ne Obliviscaris

Ne Obliviscaris (photo credits: Svartwerk)

Ne Obliviscaris demonstrate an impressive level of musicianship and chemistry together. The mentioned Triptych Lux builds a frightening tension that erupts masterfully in the rupture of the song’s latter movement. In Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb, which is a fully instrumental piece, acoustic guitars sputter alongside a fantastic melodic lines of Tim Charles’ violin. The piece feels dark and evokes a tension that feels like it’s going to burst at any moment. And it does with the following Pyrrhic, transcending a classical atmosphere and diving straight intro a terrifying black/death metal chaos, with Charles’ violin announcing the apocalypse.

The first part of Devour Me, Colossus diptych, Blackholes, although sombre in its soul capitalizes on haunting the ethereal beauty. Ne Obliviscaris’ mastery of arrangement flourishes on this one and following Contortions, which features a stunning blend of violin, jazz-inspired basslines, Charles’ clean vocals and Xenoyr’s growls.

Citadel is uncompromising, rich and is an instant classic. I have long considered Portals of I to be one of my favourite albums ever, and for the time I experienced the new album I have to say that this one trumps their debut by a noticeable margin. Always pushing the envelope forward, it is my hope that this album gives Ne Obliviscaris the exposure and attention they deserve.

Read Prog Sphere’s interview with Ne Obliviscaris here.


1. Painters of the Tempest (Part I): Wyrmholes
2. Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
• Movement I: Creator
• Movement II: Cynosure
• Movement III: Curator
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


* Xenoyr – harsh vocals
* Tim Charles – violin & clean vocals
* Benjamin Baret – lead guitar
* Matt Klavins – guitar
* Brendan ‘Cygnus’ Brown – bass
* Dan Presland – drums


Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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