Review Summary: Ne Obliviscaris are proving once more to be a hard band to label. 2014's Citadel finds the band perfecting the unique sound established on their debut album Portal of I, while seemingly attaining more accessibility.
In spite of drawing several comparisons to contemporary metal act Opeth, Ne Obliviscaris dig much deeper. They truly relish in the opportunity to blast the listener with heavy guitars, death growls and blast beats, but unlike many other modern death metal bands, Ne Obliviscaris throws classical violin and clean vocals into the mix. Before you cry foul, know that the violin and clean vocals don't dominate the album, they add to it. Seamless transitions of brutally heavy material and jazz-like classical instrumentation captivate and demand attention. And while these additional styles set them apart from other bands, Ne Obliviscaris never loses sight of what's important; the metal.
Many of the issues found on Portal of I
have been righted. While that album lacked direction and proved too much for some new listeners to swallow, Citadel
follows a distinct path from start to finish, and seems much more refined and polished. The clean vocals have been toned down a bit, no longer dominating entire songs or contrasting awkwardly with the harsher vocals. Portal of I
was a very atmospheric album that could easily put one into a trance, and this remains the case with Citadel
. Dreamlike violin play accompanied by acoustic guitar provide truly memorable and moving moments that are nearly impossible to find in other metal albums. Citadel
is also a much shorter offering than Portal of I
and as a result, the album flows along at a good pace without filler. While there are several purely instrumental parts on Citadel
, the band is careful to avoid repetition and will hold your attention from start to finish. The album sounds fresh with each subsequent listen and can be revisited many times without growing tiresome.
Ne Obliviscaris is a modern metal band that embraces new ideas. They provide a best of both worlds approach with regards to songwriting by offering up brutally heavy and deeply moving material simultaneously. They stand out from the rest of the pack thanks to their brilliant fusion of musical styles and are on the cutting edge of prog metal. This is a band that would seem to have a long and successful career ahead of them and deserve all the attention they get. Give this album a listen before making your 2014 best of list, because this is a game changer.