7th November 2014 – Season Of Mist
01. Painters of the Tempest (Part I): Wyrmholes
02. Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
03. Painters of the Tempest (Part III): Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb
05. Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
06. Devour Me, Colossus (Part II): Contortions
Jesus fucking Christ, what is that noise? It feels like some unnamed herd of Australians are trying to force a large cat into my ear via cheese grater. By the grace of Talos, that noise is infuriating. What is it?
Oh, it’s the intro track to the new Ne Obliviscaris album. Silly me. Well, I say album; what I really mean is three or four songs, with one track on each end that consists of what I can only assume is members of the band torturing marsupials with various kitchen appliances. But at least those three or four songs that don’t involve animal cruelty are really long! Wait, is that a good thing? Let’s find out, shall we?
After my ears had recovered from the insufferable screeching, I braced myself for what was to come by reading through the track listing. This being my first listen to Ne Obliviscaris, my first thoughts were “oh dear fuck, these song titles are pretentious as shit“. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some progressive death metal with pretentious, long titles such as “The Inane Babblings of The Space-Lord Imubifrimm (Part XIII): The Golden Glove of Jupiter’s Flatulent Brethren“, however I often find myself worrying if the band lives up to such pretentious titles. If you are bold enough to go for ridiculous song names like these, then they better at least be good enough to warrant a ridiculous title! The intro track did little to relieve this worry.
Luckily, the second track redeemed itself. (Sigh) “Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux” is a magnificent odyssey of technical death metal, with interestingly progressive passages, an incredible orchestra and a structure more akin to a novel than a song. (Sigh) “Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux“…do I really have to fucking type that out every time? I can’t even abbreviate it! POTTP3:TL is just as ridiculous. Ok, from now on I’m referring to it this trilogy as “Gerald”. If you get confused, blame Ne Obliviscaris.
This is the first thing that comes up in Google images when I type in “Gerald”. Apparently he was in Star Wars.
Ok, so “Gerald part II” displays incredible technical prowess, with awesome riffery flying all over the place, tasteful lead sections and incredible accompaniment from the rhythm and orchestra sections. The orchestral turns are fantastic by their own right, giving the song a very operatic feel, without the fat lady vocals. Speaking of vocals, “Gerald part II” shows some very interesting vocal contrast. The brutal heaviness of…Xenoyr? Wait, seriously? His name is Xenoyr? How do you even say that? Xeno-ear? I’m sorry but now all I can think of is alien ears.
But yeah, like I said, the brutal heaviness of Alien Ears contrasts nicely with the Pop-Idol, borderline cheesy vocals of…Tim Charles. Tim Charles and Xenoyr. Quite the duet.
Tim also plays the violin. He also plays it very well, despite the intro track. The instrumental prelude, “Painters of the Tempest (Part III): Reveries from the….” god fucking dammit that one’s even worse. “Gerald part III” is a nice little instrumental break which divides the heaviness and gives Tim some time to show off on the fiddle. It’s really quite good. Lots of violiny things happening. It’s positively smashing.
Then Tim throws the violin out the window as the crushing heaviness of “Pyrrhic” erupts to life (though I’m fairly sure he had to run outside and get it again as there is also violin in this song). “Pyrrhic” is another exodus of a song, a progressive death metal journey through some interesting themes. This is my favourite track on the album. The song quests through punishing brutality, through grinding, thrashing speed, through tranquil classical clearings, through dark, eerie ambiance and finally back into punishing brutality once more, encompassing almost every aspect of the spectrum into one immense track.
“Hang on a second, Ell! It sounds like you’ve been taking the piss out of this band since the second you started this review, but you’re also saying that you really like it? How about a bit of consistency, you smelly Scottish bumhole!” I hear you cry. True, I am a little inconsistent in this article [and smelly - Ed.]. That is simply because this album has many qualities of which I wholeheartedly admire, but at the same time, there are many qualities that I can’t help but take the piss out of, yeah? I don’t need to explain myself to you little people, this is my domain. I’m essentially god for the few minutes that you waste reading this rubbish. Luckily, I’m a self-deprecating god with a passable sense of humour.
Just like most gods.
So, yeah, If we can get back on track? You lot are so easily distracted. Anyway, we’re back with…”Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes“. Oh here we go again. Was “Pyrrhic” too simple for you people? A nice one word song. Albeit, it was a rather strange word, of which I don’t know the meaning of. Hang on, I’ll find a dictionary.
A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit (another term for this would be “hollow victory”).
Thank you, Wikipedia. You learn something new every day. Now I have passed that knowledge on to you; don’t say I’m not a benevolent god!
So, “Devour Me, Colossus…” fuck it, it’s getting named “Dwayne”. “Dwayne Part I” is the final ‘song’ on this album (as “Dwayne Part II” is that song that sounds like someone continually dropkicking a squirrel), totaling at 12 minutes and 37 seconds. It’s another trek of a track, traversing vast, heavy mountains, crossing beautiful, orchestral plains and rolling, vocal hills. Another journey.
It’s almost like a Lord Of The Rings-style trilogy; there’s “Gerald Part II“, which is like The Fellowship Of The Ring, establishing what the whole album is about and introducing the styles that we will come to know throughout the listening. There’s a little instrumental break, a calm before the storm that is “Pyrrhic“, which acts as The Two Towers, which is apt because that’s the best LOTR film and it’s also the best song on this album. I suppose we can stuff in some metaphor about the heavy bits being like the battle of Helm’s Deep, too. Finally, “Dwayne Part I” concludes the trilogy with The Return of the King. It brings the trilogy of epic songs to a powerful close and ends the saga. It’s also really fucking long, like The Return of the King.
So, what’s the verdict, then? Well, it’s a really good album. Again, I say “album”. I’m not really sure what it is. It’s longer than an EP, but it just doesn’t feel like it should be an album. As a whole, it stands a little lopsided. The towering, monumental trilogy of songs is fantastic. I could listen to them over and over. However, I will probably skip every other song. In fact, I will probably delete the first and last tracks altogether, because let’s be frank, they sound fucking horrible. I understand that the creepy, eerie, screechy violin thing is what they were aiming for, but I don’t want to listen to it. I’d rather not waste the space on my rapidly filling iPod.
Additionally, the vocals may contrast a little too much. Sure, it’s an interesting combination of sounds, but the contrast borders on clashing. The poppy vocals would be at home in a less death metal-orientated style, perhaps more in the vicinity of djenty progressive bands, but in this atmosphere they seem a little out of place. Regardless, the album is good, and is a serious contender for end of year lists, despite its weaknesses.