Ne Obliviscaris’s last show here was an exciting affair.
It was the band’s first visit here since their profile had exploded thanks to their amazing Citadel and world tour with Cradle of Filth.
Since then they have changed their line up and released their 3rd album, Urn to raving reviews.
While their last show concentrated on their progressive side with Oceans of Slumber supporting, tonight they have brought much heavier bands with them in the form of Switzerland’s Virvum and America’s Allaegeon.
Virvum are a technical death metal band along the same lines of Beyond Creation or Obscura, blending technical guitar riffing and relentless, blasting drums with the melodic tonality of a fretless 6 string bass guitar, injecting melody into their songs to help them songs stick out.
They do differ from their technical death metal peers by adding in clean passages and a certain ambience to them, which suits the atmosphere of the night.
While all the musicians playing tonight were top notch, I think a special shout out needs to go to their rhythm section of Arran McSporran and drummer Dan Presland.
Arran for his mastery of the fretless 6 string bass and playing some tasty solos when the music needed a new tonality to take the lead instead of guitar/vocals, and Dan for blistering speeds on his blastbeats.
It must also be noted that Dan is playing with both Virvum and Ne Obliviscaris tonight and for the rest of their 6 week long tour, so props to Dan for what will be a gruelling few weeks for him.
Allegaeon start their set fairly soon after, and immediately grab the attention of the venue during their soundcheck by tricking the sound engineer into playing some cheesy funk music during their soundcheck, while setting up their backing tracks.
In a music scene with bands so concentrated on maintaining their dark, macho image, Allegaeon immediately win some points with me for being able to break away from that.
But the audience isn’t here for a simple prank, there is some great excitement up front amongst Allegaeon’s fans up front, as they announce tonight is their first show in Europe.
If you saw their 8 string guitars and Axe-Fx’s before hearing them play, you might prepare for another djent band with every song just concentrating on low, chugging riffs.
But the band actually stay in the higher registers for the most part and only use the lower string for when they want the song to sound bigger and heavier than the rest of the song, which only makes the lower register heavier, rather than just the consistent sound.
Overall Allegaeon were a really cool band, and I hope this tour won’t be their only European tour because they have a really cool sound to offer.
Technical but not overbearingly so, plenty of heavy riffs but not to the point where every song sounds the same, and a certain tongue in cheek quality to them I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
After stripping away Allegaeon’s gear and preparing Ne Obliviscaris’s fairly simple stage set up as quickly as the band and crew could, the venue filled with excitement as an ambient track filled with piano, droning vocals and dissonant violin plays over the venue PA.
The set starts out with Liberia, a song that show cases Ne Obliviscaris’s epic sound.
While some bands may utilize a wall of pre-recorded backing tracks to create an epic feel, Ne Obliviscaris stick to a well written chord progression, a rhythm section that knows when to build, blast through, or when to hang back and let the lead guitar or vocals take the centre stage.
Liberia also adds an element of crowd participation, with a large gang chant that features after the violin solo.
I’m not a big fan of gang chants on albums, but Ne Obliviscaris made it work by creating a simple to sing melody which adds a new layer of music, and adds a feeling of excitement to the live show, which the crowd got into quite quickly.
While there are plenty of violinists in the metal world, none of them play like Tim Charles.
Charles puts his classical training to good use when the band move into clean, flamenco, soundtrack and jazz influenced clean sections, but approaches his solos almost like a guitarist during the huge heavy parts.
When he solos he cuts through the band with his aggressive playing, and adds strange dissonance to songs like Urn.
A nice treat for their fans came tonight as Tim’s fiancée Natalija flew in from Australia to play onstage during Eryie (Which also featured her playing on the recorded version), after Tim also revealed to the crowd that Eyrie was partially written in Dublin back in 2016.
There is also curiosity over Ne Obliviscaris’s bassist.
Since the band’s last Dublin show, the band has lost their long term bassist, Cygnus, and replacing him would not be an easy task given his virtuous abilities that covered the band’s first two albums, particularly his stand out solo moments that cover Citadel.
While the bass for Urn was handled by a ex-Cynic bassist Robin Zielhorst, the role of Ne Obliviscaris’s full time bassist was announced to be Martino Garattoni just days before the show.
Martino gelled very well with the band, appearing comfortable with his new band mates and with the crowd. He also showed no sloppiness and executed his solos excellently (Including Devour Me, Colossus which features a few bars of Martino playing a tapping solo with no backing from the band for a number of bars.)
The band had a few quick slip ups here and there.
With the odd mimissed snare hit on occasion, or Tim’s vocals not quite hitting the high note in Painters of the Tempest, but it wasn’t anything too obvious to anyone beyond the obsessive fans up front. It can be written off down to tonight being the first show of the tour, and the jet lag that comes with flying to Europe from Australia.
Was it a good show? Well given the length of their songs, the band were only able to fit 7 songs into the setlist (Nearly all of Urn, 2/3’s of Citadel and 1 song from Portal of I), so the show felt a bit short for fans who knew their material, and might not have suited fans who preferred their earlier albums.
But the set was played very well, and was a master-class in progressive song writing, blending many genres from the musical spectrum, and unique approaches on how to play your instrument in a metal band.
Hopefully Dublin will see Ne Obliviscaris back soon with even more new material.
– Cormac Jordan ::: 31/03/18
– Photos thanks to Conor Hall and Brian from Jenova