The Australian progressive sensation, Ne Obliviscaris, hopefully doesn’t need any introduction at this point in time. Their latest effort, Urn, released last fall, has gathered outstanding reviews from media and fans alike. Conquering the world is not financially easy if one is based in Australia, but the band has leveraged the subscription-based crowdfunding service, Patreon, to help in the task – one can support their touring for as little as dollar a month. The money has been put to good use, as Ne Obliviscaris embarked on a lengthy European tour this spring with the Colorado-based Allegaeon and Virvum from Switzerland. The Finnish leg of the tour took place in Nosturi in almost familiar fashion, as Ne Obliviscaris has received an almost ecstatic response.
The setlist for Ne Obliviscaris can be heard on Spotify here:
As the show happened on a Thursday, the showtimes were quite pleasant, with Virvum taking the stage at 19:30. The recent warm-up shows in Nosturi have seemed a bit quiet but as the Zurich-based five-piece began, the crowd seemed to be sized as if one was witnessing something way more well-known. Virvum’s modern death metal owes a great deal to their American brothers-in-arms, Fallujah, as their lengthy-ish and winding songs went between fast blast-beats and more mellow parts. Especially the tempo shift near the end of “Tentacles of the Sun” reminded me instantly of Fallujah’s “Sapphire.” The show didn’t go off without a hitch though, as there seemed to be something going on with their other guitarist’s gear during their first song; otherwise Virvum’s annoyingly short set went quite nicely. The audience was on point from the start, and band vocalist Bryan Berger thanked the first-rowers more than once. Despite a Swiss friend of mine recommending the band, I hadn’t checked them out before, but do yourself a favor and give their debut album, Illuminance, a spin – it works quite nicely!
Second up was Allegaeon from the US. While they’ve been active roughly as long as Virvum, they’ve been more productive recording-wise – after 2010 they’ve outed an album every 2 years. Compared to the other to bands of the evening, Allegaeon differed greatly in style, as their melodeath-ish stuff could easily be compared to bands like In Flames, while being more… well, American. The show was entertaining, though – the extroverted mentality of the New Continent downright emanated from vocalist Riley McShane, and everyone else strongly took contact with audience as well. Allegaeon’s songs had a lot going on on top of the mid-tempo steamroll action, and the weird Spanish-style rhythm section in the beginning of their second song was especially memorable. Unfortunately, I cannot delve into their set any further, as the band’s material wasn’t at all familiar, but I would’ve love to hear the band’s latest single… in the beginning of 2018, Allegaeon released a cover of “Animate” by Rush (the greatest band in the universe). Their set was pretty short, so I totally understand the situation. Maybe next time! Not unlike Virvum, Allegaeon was also visiting Finland the first time, and McShane spent almost all of his free time between songs thanking the audience. The house was practically full by the end of the show, so things were set perfectly for the main event!
I’ve been a fan of Ne Obliviscaris since their first album, Portal of I, and I think that the band puts out the most relevant stuff in today’s progressive metal. Clearly I wasn’t alone, as the band took the stage backed with massive cheering from the audience. I’ve seen all their previous Finnish shows, but from the first moments of the show-starter “Libera pt. I”, I couldn’t help but watch in awe of how surgically precise the band’s live act is these days. They utilizes two distinct vocalists to such great effect, as the contrast between Tim Charles and Xenoyr is huge – the former is every mother-in-law’s favorite son-in-law in his thick, bushy hair, while the latter looks and sounds like someone has dug him up from the nearby cemetery an hour before going on stage. Charles’ violin parts were perfect as well, and at times, he even sang at the same time.
The band’s set was inclined towards Urn’s material as, save the second part of “Libera”, the record was played in full. It was especially nice to hear the album’s most soothing track (if soothing is a term one can use in this context), “Eyrie”, as the band invited the violinist Natalija May to duet with Charles. The situation was special to the band as well, as May was set to return back to Australia the very next day. What I thought was the most surprising though, was placing “As Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope” from Portal of I second, as the band has always played it last until now. I guess the situation is the same with Rush’s “Limelight”, as it works as nicely as the first, last, or whatever-th song. The band’s sophomore album, Citadel, was featured with “Triptych Lux”, the second part of “Painters of the Tempest”, as well as both parts of “Devour Me, Colossus”, which served as the encore. Ne Obliviscaris had their share of technical difficulties during the “Blackholes” part, as Xenoyr’s microphone died out, following with Benjamin Bater breaking a string from his guitar only moments later. I still doubt that the audience noticed a thing, because everyone was so into the last moments of the show.
Ne Obliviscaris and Helsinki seem to have a special relationship. Having played to such intense crowds two times before, Tim Charles posted on Facebook that the band was eagerly waiting to return to Nosturi already a few days before it happened, and the third time most certainly wasn’t cut short. The band was on fire – they’ve clearly integrated their new bassist, Martino Garattoni, incredibly well, as he had a couple of juicy solo spots during the show. Drummer Dan Presland was as insanely precise as ever, and he deserves a special mention for playing his bass drums with traditional single strikes instead of doubles or swivels. The audience seemed to know every song by heart, and for example joined the choir section of the first part of “Libera” spontaneously, surprising everyone on stage. Naturally, Ne Obliviscaris promised to return to Finland as soon as possible, and as always, we’ll be waiting. Once the band’s reputation widens a bit further, I’m afraid that Nosturi might not be big enough for them – an act like this will surely take them wherever they want to go.
1. Libera, pt. 1 – Saturnine Spheres
2. And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope
3. Intra Venus
4. Painters of the Tempest, pt. 2 – Triptych Lux
6. Urn, pt. 1 – And Within the Void We Are Breathless
7. Urn, pt. 2 – As Embers Dance in Our Eyes
8. Devour Me, Colossus, pt. 1 – Blackholes
9. Devour Me, Colossus, pt. 2 – Contortions
Photos: Miia Collander