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Australia Country of Origin: Australia

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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: November 7th, 2014
Genre: Black, Progressive

Review by Ryan on January 19, 2015.

Bartender: Haven’t you had enough?
Arthur Bach: I want more than enough.

This exchange opens the 1981 screwball comedy “Arthur,” and it distills the ethos of Ne Obliviscaris. Their sophomore album Citadel is an auditory feast of both glorious and vulgar excess; the sort that requires preparation with an apéritif and concludes with the guests loosening the belts belt by a notch or two. The first spin of your disc (or hard drive) reveals a halting and haunting set of piano chords. This rote recitation of the ominous intro builds to an assault of alternate picked death metal riffs recalling the spirit of Behemoth and Opeth.

Citadel is more of a deviation than a stylistic departure, though its main passages shift further towards death metal and away from the black metal of Ne Obliviscaris’ debut, Portal of I. This decision is beneficial, in part because death metal lends itself to muso wankery. Our Australian sextet does not disappoint, bestowing too much of everything in the proper proportions. I am compelled to admit that much like jello, there’s always room for more.

A sampling of the banquet reveals an electric violin among the guitars. Initially, I feared digesting My Dying Bride at fourfold speed, but the ingredients are somewhat closer to Frank Zappa’s jazz fusion recordings with Jean Luc Ponty, or perhaps fellow Australians Virgin Black. Those unfretted strings supply additional layers of rhythm and dissonance, rather than melodic counterpoint. The horse hairs sneak up on you, moving unto places where extreme metal doesn’t normally go, while retaining the requisite disquiet and discomfort.

Ne Obliviscaris’ ambitions are laid bare on a truly enormous canvas. They present daunting possibilities, and do so without sacrificing any sensation or emotion. A band like this deserves to be noticed, though the expense of touring from Australia and keeping six members together may prove more challenging than any music theory lesson.

It’s true that bands with large lineups tend to fizzle and disintegrate quickly, but they also tend not to create such realized works as Citadel. This album is a treat, and now is the time to savor it.

Rating: 9 out of 10