» Blog Archive Ne Obliviscaris Set Out To Devour NYC -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

DSC05060 (2)Australia is a breeding ground for quality metal, it seems, as the past few years has seen numerous, highly-unique acts come out of the continent and take the metal community by storm. Everything from the progressive mindset of Karnivool to the deathcore titans in Thy Art is Murder has, in some way, left a sizeable mark on the rest of the genre, which makes the arrival of Ne Obliviscaris nothing short of remarkable. The band has made headlines over the course of their past two albums, ranging from reviews praising their art, to the revelations that their music is being studied by conservatories for music majors. It has certainly been a roller coaster for Ne O (for simplicity’s sake) the past few years, and things only seem to be getting better for the six-man ensemble.

Seemingly the result of backlash from fans after serving as an opening act for Cradle of Filth earlier this year, Ne O has answered the demands of their loyal followers and embarked on a headlining run, allowing them to perform in full rather than condensed into 30 minutes. Bringing along symphonic/melodic death metal act Starkill from Chicago and Philadelphia’s very own destructive Black Crown Initiate, Ne O have certainly played their cards right and brought two heavy-hitting bands with them to make this first headlining run in the States memorable, to say the least.

DSC04771 (2)Gramercy Theatre has become something of my favorite venue, as it allows smaller bands a perfect space to perform to decent sized crowds. Also, most importantly, the venue is quick to include local acts, giving them a chance to feature them alongside these national bands. As such, New York’s own melo death band, Winter Nights, served as the opening act. I had seen the band previously last year as they opened for Dark Tranquillity on the same stage, and at the time I had enjoyed them for what they were setting out to do with their music. Opening for Ne Obliviscaris, however, and given over a year of more playing experience, the band was considerably tighter and stronger overall from start to finish. The crowd was more receptive to the band, as well, which undoubtedly goes to show that some hard work and dedication can do wonders for a band.

Most commendably, and this has always been an aspect of which I enjoyed about the band, is bassist’s Martin Tune’s playing. Tune makes a conscious effort to make the bass a stand-out instrument from the guitars, instead of mimicking the rhythms they are performing. This helps make the songs have an extra layer to their music, and whether you’re in it for the metal or technicality of their performance, one can find numerous aspects to enjoy in their set.

DSC04894 (2)Following suit with the melo death sound, Chicago’s Starkill transitioned onto the stage, bringing an unexpected amount of energy to their set. Consisting of songs from their forthcoming, untitled album, Starkill made sure to deliver on their stage presence as to make fans forget the fact that these songs were brand new. In all honesty, the band wouldn’t have needed to have been so energetic, as the songs themselves were impressive with the crowd reacting positively to them. That being said, new song “Cloudless” needs to be addressed, as it is going to be one of the highlights of their discography.

DSC04872 (2)Even still, when the band was making what was possibly their first impression on a new group of fans, they did not disappoint. At one moment during the opening few songs, guitarist Tony Keathly stepped onto one of the balconies to the right of stage, still playing and getting in the faces of people in the crowd. By the time they were closing their set out with the somber, Amorphis-inspired “Before Hope Fades,” the band knew to dial it back and allow the song to not be distracted by intense rock-star stage antics. All in all, though, Starkill ended their set only hyping me up for their show with Dark Tranquillity in November, and by the crowd’s reaction they were one in the same.

DSC04971 (2)If anyone was going to match the momentum set by Starkill, though, that band would be Black Crown Initiate. Hot off the release of their new album Selves We Cannot Forgive, Black Crown Initiate had plenty of momentum and hype going into this performance. Having toured with Behemoth, Dying Fetus, and Cattle Decapitation in the past few years, one would assume that the band is able to deliver live. And they do. Very, very much so. From the opening moments of “Great Mistake,” the band made it clear that they were the living embodiment of a sledgehammer. Balancing technical death metal passages with melodic lead guitars and clean vocals, coupled with the menacing yet atmospheric growls of vocalist James Dorton, the band pillaged, scorched, and burned their way through their allotted set time.

DSC04988 (2)While the music itself is identical to the album, the most marvelous aspect of their entire set is watching the band members work on their individual instruments. Both new guitarist Wes Hauch and veteran Andy Thomas both effortlessly shred through “The Fractured One,” with bassist Nick Shaw creating his own melodies and dissonance while employing countless bass techniques. Drummer Jesse Beahler impresses just as much as well, automatic in his playing but expressive and emotional to avoid any accusations of roboticism. Black Crown Initiate are the real deal, and seeing them live is enough to win anyone over.

DSC05028 (2)As if the momentum could not ascend anymore, it was when Ne Obliviscaris finally took to the stage that an uproar of applause from the packed room pierced the air. No fancy intro music or time was wasted as vocalists Tim Charles and Xenoyr slingshotted the band into the first part of “Devour Me, Colossus,”  titled “Blackholes.” Most remarkably was the crowd who screamed along with Xenoyr, who stood broodingly, draped in all black and whirling his long hair around. (At one point I even caught it in my face) Serving as the antithesis to Xenoyr’s demeanor, Tim Charles would soar through the band’s (perfect) vortex of a sound, either providing sung vocals or a wild and chaotic violin solo that the band is notable for including.

While their vocalists stood at the forefront, the traditional instrumentalists were undoubtedly amazing to behold. Numerous times during the night, bassist Brendan Brown would embark on an amazing bass solo or passage, carrying the song into the next movement effortlessly, in which guitarists Matt Klavins and Benjamin Baret would also receive similar moments of amazement and awe, either exchanging solos with Charles’ violin or with one another over the constantly changing drum beats, provided by Dan      iel Presland.

What is most remarkable about Ne O’s entire set, however, is that it lasted an hour and a half. Seven songs for the band (Which included “Painters of the Tempest”) carried on, never offering a dull moment and kept the excitement at an all time high. Props to Presland, though, for never missing a beat through the entire run time, especially considering just how technical and demanding one song is, let alone seven.

DSC05075 (2)If one negative is to be given for the entire show, it’s the lighting that proved to be problematic during the entirety. While having numerous people up front on the stage is understandable for this outfit, the lighting often left the guitarists and bassist in the shadows,Xenoyr and Charles were up close to one another. Even when any of the vocalists would move towards the back when the instrumentalists were soloing, they were still left in the dark. At the very least during Ne O’s set, Charles was given plenty of spotlight once he was up front with a violin in hand.

Regardless of a lighting display, fans were undoubtedly given more than they were expecting when they begged for a headliner from Ne O. With a local opener that set the stage nicely to formidable opening bands that delivered above and beyond, Ne O had a winning bill from the start that was only better when experienced first hand. I cannot imagine seeing Ne O again and not seeing them play for at least an hour given the size of their songs and shows. Ne O have an amazing career ahead of them, and it will be amazing to see where the band goes in the next few years.

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