The fans of extreme metal rubbed their eyes last year, when Tuska festival announced that they had added Ne Obliviscaris, hailing all the way from Melbourne, Australia, to their line-up. The band, founded in 2003, had popped up on extreme metal fans’ collective radar in 2012 after the release of their stellar debut album, Portal of I, combining elements from various metal genres and using two vocalists, one of them also playing violin. The sheer distance between Australia and pretty much the rest of the world forced Ne Obliviscaris to only tour in Asia after the debut’s release, but after the release of the sophomore album, Citadel, the band announced that they would do a crowdfunding campaign to enable them to embark on a world tour. The fans responded: in only 2 days, the initial target of 40,000 AUD was capped, and the final result landed the band with almost 90,000 AUD to spend – the largest amount of money collected through Kickstarter in Australian history.
The Tuska show during the resulting tour was a huge success. I myself thought that, considering the circumstances, I wasn’t going to see the band live ever again, but boy was I wrong – Ne Obliviscaris returned to Finland as a support act for Cradle of Filth in the fall of 2015. The Nosturi show was packed, as a huge number of people had come only to see Ne Obliviscaris, resulting in a massive queue outside the venue, resulting in a lot of people (myself included) missing half of their set. Overwhelmed by the audience’s response, the band promised to return to Finland, and they kept their promise only a year after it was made, as Ne Obliviscaris played a headlining show in Nosturi, supported by Finland’s own Oddland and Brymir.
Being held on a Wednesday, the event started pretty early, as Oddland’s showtime was marked as 19:30. As I arrived at Nosturi about 10 minutes before, there was already a 15 meter queue outside, but when I got to the top floor, the venue was still pretty quiet. What a shame, I thought; I’ve been a fan of the band ever since I saw their winning Suomi Metal Star performance in 2011’s Helsinki Metal Meeting (RIP), which landed them a record deal with Century Media. The debut, The Threachery of Senses, a brilliant mix of djent and other progressive influences, receiving praise from media and fans alike. However, the label didn’t promote the band at all and eventually Oddland parted ways with Century Media. The band took their sweet time with preparing their second full-length, Origin, which was released through Sensory Records in September of this year.
Oddland begun their 30-minute set on time with “Flooding Light” off the debut album. The vocalist, Sakari Ojanen, had problems with his guitar, as he had to run behind his guitar rig to fix the cabling every time he didn’t have to be in front of the microphone. The problem was apparently fixed by the time they continued with “Thanatos”, the second single off Origin, and I wished that the problems would have ended there, but no. During “Hidden”, their backing track apparently decided to cut out mid-song, instantly throwing the drummer, Ville Viitanen, off balance, and the song got really messed up. I almost thought that they would have to start the song over, but they decided to take a minute to grab a hold of the track and finish the song. The bassist, Joni Palmroth, handled the situation brilliantly with a joke about prog musicians and what happens when they lose the backing track from their ear monitors: mistakes, that’s what you get! The rest of the show went off without a hitch, but I sincerely felt bad for the band’s bad luck, since this would have been a great opportunity to attract new fans. Not that the situation was too profitable to begin with – Oddland’s material is hugely different when compared to the two following bands. Hopefully the audience, which steadily grew in numbers as the show progressed, got the hang of Oddland. I enjoyed it as always – please come again, and soon!
1. Flooding Light
Second up was Brymir. The 10-year old Sipoo-based symphonic metal group has released two full-length albums, with the sophomore effort, Slayer of Gods, coming out only this year. While having absorbed their primary influences from folk metal bands like Ensiferum, the band’s material takes a more Keep of Kalessin-ish approach on tempos and guitar riffing. The introduction of their present drummer, Patrik Fält of Feastem fame, really made the rest of the band step it up a notch when compared to the first time I saw the band live years ago in Nummirock. Jarkko Niemi (bass, vocals) asked the audience “DO YOU HAVE HATE?!” followed by an awkward silence, until someone shouted from the back “…NO!”
While the band’s show was great, performance and mixing-wise, I have to say a few words about the stage lighting. The light table was operated by two of (probably) the band’s friends, who constantly tried to utilize everything attached to the stage’s ceiling beams. While I agree that Brymir’s material has a lot going on at any given point, the lighting was just too chaotic and over the top. It’s about contrast, guys! The show must have been challenging to shoot from the photopit, since there was a constant barrage of strobes and moving backlights, but the front spots weren’t used at all. Nosturi’s own light technician seemed really stressed about the situation, pacing back and forth in the mixing booth and clearly wanting to tell the guys not to destroy the table.
All-in-all, Brymir, with the lead of the charismatic vocalist, Viktor Gullichsen, pulled off an entertaining show, and the band hopefully made themselves a bunch of new fans – Brymir’s material holds up against much more well-known and older acts. Too bad though, that the setlist didn’t include a single song off their debut album, Breathe Fire to the Sun.
2. The Black Hammer
4. Thus I Became Kronos
5. Slayer of Gods
6. The Rain
7. For Those Who Died
By the time Brymir finished their set, Nosturi was already packed with fans impatiently waiting for Ne Obliviscaris to take the stage. There were a notable number of Ne Obliviscaris T-shirts to be seen, including the ones you could only get via backing the band in their crowdfunding. At 21:30 sharp, the stage curtains were pulled aside and total awesomeness ensued. Starting off with Citadel’s “Devour Me, Colossus Pt. I – Blackholes”, the band had barely reached the first more mellow part of the song, when practically everyone was shoving their fists in the air. The last two times Ne Obliviscaris has been in Finland, their time on stage has been very limited, forcing them to cut out small parts of their songs, but this time as a headlining act, the next song, “Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise”, was played in full; the lead guitarist, Benjamin Baret, and the violinist/vocalist, Tim Charles, played the beautiful outro as a duet after the rest of the band had gone backstage for a brief rest.
After the first two songs, Charles introduced the band and noted the crowdfunded T-shirts in the audience, thanking everyone for their continued support. For the next song, my prayers were answered, as the band kicked off the debut album’s killer, “Xenoflux.” The serene part near the end is one of the best passages in metal since Opeth’s Deliverance – you know what I mean. Next up was “Painters of the Tempest Pt. II – Triptych Lux”, which in turn contains three movements. Last time in Nosturi, Ne Obliviscaris only had time for the last one, “Curator”, but this time the band fortunately had time for “Creator” and ”Cynosure” as well. Again, in the end of “Curator”, the rest of the band retreated backstage, as Baret and Charles also played “Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb”, the third part of “Painters of the Tempest.” Now that’s something I’ve never seen before: a flamenco guitar solo played on an 8-string guitar!
Before the last song in the main set, Charles again took his time to wholeheartedly thank the Finnish fans and mentioned that, to make this headlining show possible, the band had joined Patreon, a service for fans to directly channel funds to culture creators, addressing the issue of bands having to resort to the help of their fanbase, because record labels don’t have the resources other than promotion these days. “Pyrrhic” had the honor to be the final song in the main set, but the audience immediately started to cheer the band back on stage to play the song that’s become the de factor closer of Ne Obliviscaris’ shows: “And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope.” Everyone knew what to expect: as Charles played the first note of his violin intro to the song, the audience instantly started applauding. Eleven and a half minutes of blissful progressive metal later the show was over. Charles thanked the audience once again and promised that Ne Obliviscaris will hopefully return next year once they’ve finished their next album (receiving a thunderous applause for this). Everyone went backstage to get changed before descending to the coatroom hall to meet their fans beside the merchandise stand. As I was leaving, the whole area was packed, and I can imagine that those shirts must have sold quite well!
Ne Obliviscaris is a unique band – there’s nothing even remotely close to their blend of extreme metal and classical music anywhere else. All the mileage the band has racked up in the last few years also clearly shows in their stage presence with their synchronous headbanging and almost inhumanly precise playing – it would be absolutely pointless for the band to ever record a live album, since it would sound exactly like their studio albums. The harsh vocalist, Xenoyr, and Charles are also wildly different performers, as the former has an immensely ominous appearance, while the latter is the most sympathetic gentleman having the time of his life on stage.
There’s no reason why Ne Obliviscaris couldn’t be a self-sustained success in the future, because already they’ve proven themselves able to get international recognition purely on their musical prowess, not because of furious marketing on the internet. Godspeed, and welcome again!
Ne Obliviscaris’ setlist:
1. Devour Me, Colossus, Pt. I – Blackholes
2. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
4. Painters of the Tempest, Pt. II – Triptych Lux (Creator/Cynosure/Curator)
5. Painters of the Tempest, Pt. III – Reveries from the Stained Glass Womb
7. And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope
Photos: Janne Puronen