Portal of I
01. Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract
03. Of The Leper Butterflies
04. Forget Not
05. And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope
06. As Icicles Fall
07. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
[Code 666 Records]
Black metal is quickly evolving from a one-off listen to a personal favorite of mine. There is just something about its music that entrances me, something other-worldly. I also happen to like its distant nature, by which I mean its ability to still sound heavy without downtuning a guitar. Take the first Mayhem record; standard tuning, but some of the heaviest songs I have ever heard. I also really enjoy some more relaxing non-metal acts, such as The Mars Volta and even (yes, true story) Dave Matthews Band. Part of what attracts me to both is not only their versatility, but their sometimes shocking surprises.
Ne Obliviscaris, Latin for “Lest We Forget”, are quickly ascending the ranks into the newfound joy of modern black metal and extreme prog. Alongside bands like Agalloch, Krallice, Alcest and Enslaved, these guys bring forth their own style of black metal and work to push the genre forward, but add one twist that I absolutely love: they have a fiddle. Yes, a violin, which, in retrospect, isn’t very alien to the genre. Many acts have used the instrument to create a more orchestral and folk-like feel to the music. However, in Ne Obliviscaris, the band uses it as more of an accent, not in a symphonic way. They utilize the instrument in a way that almost sounds like folk music, instead of long sequences of notes on top of heavy guitars, it does some tasteful solos and parts that most people would never hear in black metal, let alone any heavy metal. It fits very well, actually, and while not always prominent, and not on every section of every song, it fits in very nicely where a little something extra is needed.
Rather than address particular songs, I want to talk about the whole album, because that’s how Portal of I is meant to be viewed. While the songs don’t necessarily combine to flow like BTBAM‘s Colors, they are all connected in their own unique way; with each new song, it feels as if it picks up where the last song stopped. While ‘And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope’ is my favorite song from this release, there are no bad songs at all. Each track is rich with different layers, and there is always something going on — a turn that comes abruptly, a chord change, a rushing tremolo part — that just clicks naturally.
One of the other interesting elements was the incorporation of clean vocals into the music. Having clean vocals over black metal is ridiculous to some, but it fits perfectly when utilized across Portal of I. Agalloch was my introduction to this combination, and I think they were always able to do it in a very uncompromising, inoffensive way that fit with the music. Ne Obliviscaris continues that trend, with beautiful clean sections, sometimes intertwined with Xenoyr’s harsh vocals. It needs to be noted that Tim Charles, the clean vocalist, also plays the violin in the band, which I think is what enable him to constantly be an active member rather than only coming in when his violin solo arrives.
It’s hard to fault an album that is really so enjoyable, which is why I only have one: the song ‘Forget Not’ has too long of a build up. Other than that, this album is an immaculate piece of work from six talented Australians. Hopefully they will continue to produce such moving music, as this is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of the year. Highly recommended to any fan of black metal and extreme prog, or even just someone willing to let their ears hear something different and unique.
Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I gets…