Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel – 9.25/10
– This was a year of big reunion albums and highly anticipated sophomore albums. Ne Obliviscaris falls in that second category. Their debut album Portal of I was released in 2012 (even though they had been a band since 2003) and received widespread critical acclaim. Progressive Death Metal is much less common than Technical Death Metal, so for a lot of people, their debut was the most exciting discovery since Opeth. This is a band that can transition from technicality and brutality to soft beautiful moments, and keep very long songs exciting. They also set themselves apart by having a full time violin player, which is a rare instrument in extreme metal (unless you’re Unexpect). Citadel is a good sized album at 48 minutes (about 20 minutes shorter than their debut), which actually works to its benefit. This is very challenging music to listen to, and should not overstay its welcome. In terms of songwriting, flow, and musicianship, this album is as close to perfect as it got this year. 6 tracks, 3 of which are about 3 minute instrumentals to provide breaks and build ups, and 3 tracks that range from 10 to 16 minutes and are the majority/bulk of the album. Tracks also flow into each other. There are 3 distinct sections of the album. The first 3 tracks make up one, the forth track is it’s own, and the last two make up the third. This helps enhance the pacing of the album. The longer songs can be as chaotic and frantic as they want to be, because they will be wind downs for the listener. This means that this album is full of transitions from growls to clean singer, jazzy bass tones, intense drumming, great guitar tones, beautiful guitar solos and violin solos, and technical but memorable riffs. It’s amazing how this band can sound like Psycroptic at one point, Unexpect the next, and finish it off sounding like Devin Townsend. This album gets very high regards from me, like A Warm Glimpse by Farmakon did when I discovered that album and like Spiritual Migration by Persefone did last year. It may not be for everyone. Old school progressive rock and metal fans may not be into the heavy parts or the growls. But this is one of the best recent Progressive Metal albums, and shows that there is still a lot of room for extreme metal bands to branch out and follow their own paths.