Welcome to our artist-written feature on Heavy Blog, “The Anatomy Of”. Taken from the Between The Buried And Me album of the same name — in which the band pays tribute to the artists and bands that they feel have most inspired their songwriting — it’s a feature in which we hand off the metaphorical microphone to bands so they can talk about their influences.
We at Heavy Blog are thrilled to present the Anatomy Of one of Australia’s foremost progressive death metal bands, Ne Obliviscaris. With two highly acclaimed albums under their belt, the sextet are in the midst of a world tour which has seen them bring their fusion of death metal, jazz, classical music and flamenco to audiences in Australia, Asia, Europe and, soon, North America (dates here). Today, we’re lucky enough to be joined by multi-instrumentalist Brendan Brown, bassist for both Ne Obliviscaris and Vipassi. Brendan has been kind enough to share a journey into his past, as he explores a diverse series of albums, in order of discovery, which have helped shape the musician and song-writer that he is today.
Frenzal Rhomb – Meet the Family 
Ok, this album pretty much started everything for me. It was the first time I had ever heard slap bass. Or rather any interesting audible bass in the context of a song. It was at this point I realised I wanted to be a bass player. The bass is really at the forefront on this album. There are walking basslines, chords, and heaps of fast slap and you can hear every note. While I don’t particularly like this style of music any more, it was my first introduction into fast and technical music and I cannot deny how much this album influenced me. Without it I simply wouldn’t have been inspired to pick up an instrument.
Damaged – Do Not Spit 
I remember back to when I was in my early teens and I went to a relative’s wedding. One of my relatives had a long-haired scruffy looking boyfriend who was much older than me. We got talking about music and I mentioned how I liked fast and heavy music. This was a time before the internet! All I had to rely on was MTV and Radio for exposure to any music at all. He took me out to his car and put in a tape which had Damaged – Do not Spit on it and said “check this out”. Within seconds my brain was liquefied. I couldn’t believe the sheer ferocity and brutality of the music I was hearing. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and from that exact moment I was hooked. I knew right then and there that this was the style of music I had always wanted to hear, but just hadn’t known it existed. He gave me the tape and I listened to it on repeat. I eventually found a physical copy of the album. I took it home and I read the lyrics over and over. They were long, cryptic, political and had so many words I’d never even seen before. That really inspired me along with the music.
It wasn’t until years later that I found out they were based in Melbourne, where I live. I couldn’t believe that music like this was being played locally, in a subculture I didn’t even know existed. I then started going to local gigs and the whole world of metal music opened up for me.
Devin Townsend – Terria 
This album was a life changer for me. I was at a friend’s house in the country. We were hanging out, staying up late as young kids do on the school holidays. He put on this album and within minutes I was transported to a different reality. I couldn’t tell if the music was going slow and stretching, or my mind was. It sounded like a vinyl being slowed down and sped up continually. It completely distorted all my senses. I was hearing things that weren’t there (or maybe they were). This album has hundreds of layers and random sounds. It was cathartic and beautiful at the same time. Pure fear and pure bliss entwined. It was the first time music had ever had such an emotional / visual impact on me, and it made me realise how powerful music can be. Prior to this I was just listening to heavy music for its aggression and energy. I will never forget that experience, so this is definitely one of my favourite albums of all time and I still listen to it regularly. Even now, it always gives me new feelings and images; a true masterpiece.
Cynic – Focus 
I can’t remember who showed me this album. It may have been the same friend that showed me Devin Townsend, but my memory eludes me. All I remember is how much this album influenced me and how it forged the bass player I am today. It is one of the only bands where I took the time to learn a whole song on bass. (Note: I really don’t spend any time learning other people’s songs, because I spend all my spare time writing my own music. This is not something I am proud of. I just simply don’t have the time or patience for it.) I learned ‘The Eagle Nature’ on my fretless bass. There is actually a video of it on YouTube (in fact, it’s the very first Cynic bass cover to be uploaded to YouTube). So looking back I can definitely see how much learning just this one song has influenced my playing over the last 10 years. It is a lifelong goal of mine to meet and learn from Sean Malone. His work with Cynic, Aghora and Gordian Knot inspires me daily. Every note he plays is pure, heartfelt and rhythmically diverse. A true master of the bass.
Spiral Architect – A Sceptics Universe 
Expanding on from Cynic; I was searching related music on internet forums and I stumbled across this album. It was like Cynic on steroids. Listening to this album was like trying to decode the matrix. So many timing changes, modes and little intricacies, it almost gave me a headache. But one thing stood out and caught my attention, and that was the bass. The holy apex of bass playing! Still to this day I have not heard a more impressive display of bass playing in a metal band. And after nearly a decade of listening to this album, it still remains my absolute favourite album of all time. I love every single note. I have analysed every single hit of the drum, the way the vocals and lyrics fit in with the riffs. It’s all so mentally stimulating. I worship this album and I really believe it will never be topped, at least nothing has come close so far. I still spin this album regularly and it continually blows my mind and leaves me perplexed with every listen. I just laugh at the complexity of the bass. Thank you Lars Norberg! You have set the bar for progressive bass playing. Forever an inspiration.
Cryptopsy – And Then You’ll Beg 
I love everything Cryptopsy has done. A lot of people think that None So Vile was their iconic album, but for me And Then You’ll Beg is their best work. From the swelling sound of the Matrix intro sample, to the train leaving at the end, the whole album is like waking up from a bad dream with a steam train to the face (just like the album cover depicts). This album pushed a lot of boundaries at the time. The drumming is inhuman yet tasteful and the bass playing is really technical and melodic as well. This album was my alarm clock for many years. It was the only thing that would get me out of bed and ready to face the day.
Sceptic – Pathetic Being 
I am known primarily as a bass player, but I also play a lot of guitar. In fact, in my spare time these days I play more guitar than bass, so that I can work on my own music and compositions. It was this album that inspired me to buy an electric guitar and actually write my own riffs. Jacek Hiro is a massive inspiration for my guitar playing. I call him the Polish Chuck Schuldiner. He has a very similar style and song structure to Chuck, but he’s just that bit more technically proficient and groovy. The drumming and bass playing is also incredible, which is always a key feature I look for in good music. I have always been very drawn to this band. Sceptic are the one of the most underrated bands in the world. I am shocked at how little exposure they have, even with nearly 5 full length albums released. It makes me very sad, given how much they have influenced me in getting my own music out to the world. Please support them in any way you can!
Wormed – Planispherium 
Wormed. What can I say about this album. This album was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to get into. At first I hated it. I couldn’t hear anything or detect any grooves or melodic hooks to catch on for listening pleasure. It just sounded like a big sloppy mess. But my friend (whose opinion I deeply value) told me to stick with it. It was his favourite album at the time. I knew there was something I wasn’t getting, so I actually forced myself to like it. I listened to it over and over, and it was only until I was listening to it with good headphones, with my eyes closed and calmly absorbing the whole thing, that it clicked. It made complete sense. It is now one of my favourite death metal releases. It’s incredibly original, well thought out, rhythmically complex and groovy. All the things I initially thought it wasn’t. The drumming is the centrepiece. It’s so jazzy and flamboyant. I think you really have to focus on the drums to understand the album, because the production is so muddy it really obscures the riffs. This album’s lyrics and art greatly inspired my solo project Infinite Density. I am very passionate about cosmology and Wormed are all about The Universe and Wormholes.
(Look out for the clean break at 2:24 after the huge guttural slam. Genius!)
I could go on forever about all the albums I love and how they’ve influenced me in some way, but here are a few honourable mentions:
Commit Suicide – Synthetics
Gorguts – Obscura
Watchtower – Control And Resistance
Odious Mortem – Cryptic Implosion
Alarum – Eventuality
Irepress – Sol Eye Sea I
Jakob – Solace
Victor Wooten – A Show Of Hands
Michael Manring – Thonk
Defeated Sanity – Chapters of Repugnance
Sigur Ros – ()
Necrophagist – Epitaph
Inanimate Existence – A Never-Ending Cycle of Atonement