Ne Obliviscaris has gone through a lot since their last album “Citadel.” There have been many highs but also difficult times that must have challenged the band more than they imagined. This led to the dismiss of bassist Brendan Brown. The band have reemerged with their third album “Urn” with bassist extraordinaire Robin Zielhorst (ex-Cynic, Our Oceans, Exivious). Zielhorst adds his magical fretless bass which really adds a dynamic that the band was missing before.
“Urn” is formatted songwise similar to “Citadel,” songs divided into parts with quite a few epics. But where “Citadel” never led off the accelerator, “Urn” returns the balance the band had on their first album “Portal of I.” There’s plenty of room for Tim Charles’ violin and his awesome clean vocals, which starts the album off on part 1 of “Libera.”
“Libera” has a nice quite intro before it kicks it. And yes it does POUND! I like that drummer Daniel Presland isn’t using the double bass constantly. “Citadel” felt like it was all the time, might not have been but it was like getting pummelled. I like Presland’s patterns on the whole album, and this track is a good example. Harsh vocalist Xenoyr still sounds like he is possessed by Satan so that’s good! The guy can fucking scream and he sounds awesome on the whole album.
The X factor for me is Charles’ violin. Let’s face it, that’s what really sets Ne Obliviscaris apart from other prog metal bands. His violin is never limited to the quieter moments and THAT is another reason it’s so great. He does not sound out of place when the band is in a heavier section of music. “Libera (Part 2), Ascent of Burning Moths” is a nice acoustic duo piece which does showcase Charles’ virtuosity.
“Intra Venus” was the first song released from “Urn.” Yes I love the fretless bass but I really love the mid tempo sway that the song has. As heavy as the song is (like most Ne Obliviscaris), it still is melodic and yes technical as hell. The song is what I’d call quintessential Ne Obliviscaris. Similarly, Eyrie is another gem of a song. The start of it reminds me more of “Anathema” which shows the depth of this band. They are growing and that’s what I was hoping for. Of course, don’t get cozy because about four minutes in things change. The song has tons of dynamics, twists and turns. Eventually, the band return you safely as they found you…with a nice grand finale.
The album closes out with the two part title track. “And Within the Void We Are Breathless” is part 1. I do love Charles’ falsetto on the track which I was not aware he could do. It’s a nice contrast to the venom spitting that Xenoyr does on the track. The instrumental section in this track is flat out amazing. “As Embers Dance in Our Eyes” is part 2 of “Urn” and rather than just being another instrumental outro that the band tends to do, it is an ass kicking conclusion to a great album!
This is the Ne Obliviscaris that I love. I thought “Citadel” was good but a let down after their debut masterpiece “Portal of I.” The band sound like they are firing on all cylinders on “Urn.” I know that Zielhorst was just a guest on the album but the band needs a player with his skill level and that supple fretless bass. The band is determined to make it in this fucked up modern music industry and “Urn” should help them on their way.
1. Libera (Part 1)
2. Libera (Part 2)
3. Intra Venus
5. Urn (Part 1)
6. Urn (Part 2)