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NE OBLIVISCARIS: The Metal Injection Interview

Ne Obliviscaris are a rising force in the progressive music scene.

Ne Obliviscaris are a rising force in the progressive music scene.

Ne Obliviscaris are a rising force in the progressive music scene. After releasing their stellar sophomore effort, Citadel, and funding their first world tour, bassist Cygnus (the ripped gentleman on the far left) chatted with Metal Injection about the new record, Australia, crowd-funding, and more.

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Metal Injection: First off, the new record is lovely. Part of me still finds it strange to talk about metal with words like beautiful, lovely, and the likes but your music is as gorgeous as it is crushing. Are there any unspoken limits set on pretty to heavy ratios, limits to where you’ll go at all, or do you guys see it all as being “progressive” is one way or another?
Brendan 'Cygnus' Brown: Thank you for the kind words. We set no limits other than pursuing extreme and emotional music. That will never change. The music will always have fast drumming, technical solos and intertwining melodies but everything between that remains a mystery.

With the success of Portal of I, was there any internal pressure to avoid the “sophomore slump”?
Not at all. Some of the songs on Portal Of I were composed almost 9 years ago. We were extremely eager to compose album #2. Especially with Benji at the helm. With 6 members contributing there is never a shortage of ideas and we are always writing. Album #3 has begun and we have not even toured ‘Citadel’ yet.

The term Citadel is “a fortress, typically on high ground, protecting or dominating a city” (Thank google for this definition), how do you feel this term or idea works with the new album’s theme or concept?
Well Xen takes control of all lyrics, themes and artwork and honestly I have a lot of trouble deciphering his lyrics. He writes very cryptically and anybody can interpret the stories in their own way. But I think this is Xen’s intention all along. There is no clear picture, just metaphors.

I’m sure this is a tired topic of discussion for the band but, it is such a selling point when I suggest your music to people. The violin is an atypical instrument in heavy metal, how did the band wind up incorporating the instrument?
We formed almost 10 years ago, but not all at once. There were some member changes in the early days. Tim was discovered by Xen on a music website looking for people to start bands, or members to join established bands. Matt was also contacted this way. I played in an old local band called The Implicate Order and Xen witnessed one of our gigs and contacted me directly asking if I would be interested. Xen is the only original member and he formed the band and got the ball rolling.

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Was is a challenge working it into your sound, or was the sound already in your heads and you then had to make your hands make what was in your head?
The beginnings of NeO are nothing like they are today. We started far simpler in composition. Slower drumming, no guitar solos, nothing very original or captivating. Just mediocre melodic death/doom with some violin melodies over the top. Shortly after I joined the band I asked my friend Daniel Presland to join and replace our existing drummer. Dan had a huge passion for extreme bands and fast drumming and that was the huge turning point of the band. Having someone who could blast and play very fast kicks opened a big doorway for us and that’s when our music became more blackened and intense. As the years have carried on we get much better at our instruments and composing as a band. We all just do our own thing and it works out really well. We trust each others judgments.

I have a hell of a time comparing you to other bands when suggesting you (which feels like the sign of a great band, honestly), but who are some bands that are unexpected influences in your sound? For example on the latest Devin Townsend album, Z2, he cites Will I Am as an influence for the song “Silent Militia.”
That’s a hard question to pinpoint because we all listen to different music. We all love Emperor, Ihsahn, Arcturus and Satyricon so they have some binding influence within our sound. I mainly listen to Death metal, Xen mainly listens to raw black metal. The list goes on. All these different upbringings influence our sound and coalesce into the music we create.

In The US metal music in our culture ranges from being a target of religious zealots to being shoehorned into strange places in the mainstream. What is the general attitude of heavy metal in Australian media and culture?
Australians are very easy going. Just like anything there are negative people and positive supportive people. But generally we have a very strong supportive community. We have lots of respect and admiration for one another. I have been involved in the scene for 14 years so I have seen a lot of bands come and go but it’s always great to walk into a gig and see so many familiar faces every time.

How did you feel having your music become part of a college curriculum?
Overwhelming to say the least! There are so many incredible things to add to the NeO dossier. We broke the Australian crowdfund record. We recently entered the top 50 in the Aria charts. It’s been a long hard road but things are going extremely well and we are forever humble for all the recognition.

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Admittedly I only know of a few artists out of Australia, but it seems to be a diverse scene overall. Is there a group of bands you’d find yourself gigging with over and over that shared a similar sound to yours, or were your shows mismatched (for better or worse)?
I feel we can share the stage with anyone. From extreme death metal like Suffocation to female fronted euro pop metal like Sirenia to avant garde post rock such as ‘Tangled Thoughts of Leaving’ from Perth. NeO’s music is diverse and we have something for everyone to enjoy.

The band recently crowd-funded a world tour. How did the response of over 1000 fans doubling your goal make you feel as an artist?
Probably our biggest achievement to date! Surpassing the goal was not only a personal achievement for the band but it has also opened many doorways. Our name has been promoted far and wide and the European offers have started rolling in. So It has started the ball rolling for so many incredible future endeavors. It was the start of great things to come.

When can we expect to see your beautiful faces around the world? And for more selfish reasons in the US?
Hopefully 2015. We are sorting through offers at the moment and deciding what works best financially and time wise. We want to tour for a few months in one go. Rather than come home to Australia and depart frequently which would be a huge waste of money.

Now that international touring is inevitable, who are some bands you would love to share the stage with or places you hope to see in your travels?
So many bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved. Labelmates like Cynic, Gorguts, Borknagar and Mayhem. The list goes on. I’m huge into the death metal scene so seeing lesser known bands like Defeated Sanity, Odious Mortem and Wormed would be my greatest wish because there is a very slim chance these bands will grace our Australian shores.

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I gave a copy of Portal of I to a friend of mine and she would listen to the record while doing yoga. If not yoga, what activities do you see your music providing the soundtrack to?
Some fans have told us they listen to our music while studying for exams. I listen to our music when I have a Sauna. I think our music would be good for a Forest hike or long scene drives.

Almost every time the name Ne Obliviscaris is mentioned in a blog, the writer comments on the complexity of the name. At my local independent record store, I actually watched the clerk’s eyes roll into the back of his head when I asked to order Citadel. Pretty great. This long into the band’s life, how do you feel about the name?
We feel it’s extremely easy to remember. Thantifaxath, Mitochondrion and Carach Angren are much harder to remember in my opinion. Some fans just call us NeO. We like that, it works well. Plus who doesn’t love the Matrix!

In all seriousness, and I’ve bugged you on facebook about it a few times over the years, I’m a huge fan of your music. I found the demo years and years ago online somehow and it wound up being a massive influence on shaping my own music as well as my overall taste. Portal of I  was my favorite record if 2012 (see: my Metal Insider gushing) and Citadel is really really close to my heart already after only being out for a little while now. If your travels bring you anywhere near me (San Francisco, Sacramento, Reno, wherever) I’ll be there and will be so fucking excited. Thank you.
Thank you for the interview. Tim grew up in San Francisco so I am sure he is dying to go back! We can’t wait to land in the USA. Hope to meet you soon

Ne Obliviscaris' new album Citadel  is out now via Season of Mist and the band will be hitting the road world wide next year.

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Stream Citadel here

Like the band on Facebook for updates

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