August 5, 2016 Ne Obliviscaris Captivates Gramercy Theatre, NYC 7-29-16 w/ Black Crown Initiate & Starkill
So who is Ne Obliviscaris? With influences ranging from Classical, Jazz, Thrash, Death, and Black Metal, this band with a difficult name to pronounce craft a unique sound that many are embracing. Originally formed in 2003 down in Melbourne, Australia, it took almost a decade for them to come up with a steady lineup and sound. Settling in after years of hard work, they released their full-length debut, Portal of I, in 2012, quickly followed by Citadel in 2014. Building a locally devoted fan-base in those early years, many embraced their originality for crafting music that was incomparable to others and where their live performance was considered a new experience.
Through those years of passion and dedication, Ne Obliviscaris formed a drive and determination like no other, proven when Drummer Dan Presland reportedly quit his day job with a salary of $150,000 to pursue his music career. The band managed to earn about $67,000 USD from a crowdfunding campaign to embark a world tour, and now they decided to compete with the change of the music industry as they signed up with Patreon to receive monthly payments directly from the fans to help financially support making music and touring their full-time job. It is a win win for fans that do contribute because they receive extensive list of privileges that includes pre-sale tickets, live chats with the band, live streaming of band rehearsals, music tutorials from the band, and more. They are pioneering new boundaries, with the belief that it is up to the fans to make a band successful, and it is from the word of mouth to supporting their career to see if they are worth it or not.
Also referred to as “NeO,” as stated, many fans have difficulty pronouncing, Nay Ob-li-vis-kar-is, however, the name behind the name explains it all, which is a Latin meaning for “Forget Not.” With a clear introduction, it was not too long ago Ne Obliviscaris entered North America for the first time as direct openers for Cradle of Filth’s Inquisitional Torture tour. Making quite the impression with their debut along these shores, it was not long after an announcement was made that Ne Obliviscaris would be returning to North America for their full-fledged headlining tour with supporting acts Black Crown Initiate and Starkill. A great step forward for the band, the month-long tour kicked off on July 12th in San Diego, CA and, just few weeks into their trek, they stopped at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre on Friday, July 29th, for an welcomed return.
A handful of fans questioned how strong the turnout would be that evening. However, that question was answered immediately when the venue was already packed out for local act Winter Nights. Finding themselves on many major bills, Winter Nights recently played at Gramercy Theatre as support for Fleshgod Apocalypse in February, as well as Nile, Insomnium, Morbid Angel, Dark Tranquility, Omnium Gatherum and Krisiun in the past. Formed in 2007, creating music focusing on doomed subjects including death, apocalyptic endings, and survival after horrific natural disasters ever since, Winter Nights has built quite a following in their hometown.
Ready to get the night started, Jeremy Farfan (lead vocals/guitar), Efrain Farfan (lead guitar/vocals), Martin Tune (bass), and Andrew Lobosco (drums) took their places kicking off the set with “Starved For Energy,” “A Dark Awakening,” and “Encounters of the Frozen North,” filled with energy, powerful riffs, as well as fierce growls. Jeremy interacted with the crowd in a grueling death tone as he playfully asked everyone if they knew how to pronounce Ne Obliviscaris name. Once the joke dissipated, they went back into the set with “Bury Me Inside This Unmarked Grave.” Engaging with the fans once more, Jeremy stated, “We are all supposed to be dead today due to Christian people,” leading into their powerful track “The Doomsday Code.” Winter Nights brought their A-game and everything fell into place, including loud, aggressive guitar riffs, bass rumbles, energetic drums to create the sound of doom.
After a short break, it was time for the Chicago, Illinois Metal act Starkill to master the stage. Initially signed by Century Media Records in 2012, they released 2013’s Fires of Life, and 2014’s Virus of the Mind soon followed. Since going independent, there is no official release date for their third album, The State of Things; one which they opened an IndieGoGo campaign asking the fans assistance, instead of relying on a label. Also no stranger to the New York City area, in January Starkill appeared at Irving Plaza a part of the North American Enigma Tour with Epica and Moonspell. Seven months later, Starkill had some new surprises to offer the crowd.
Parker Jameson (lead guitar/vocals), Spencer Weidner (drums), Tony Keathley (guitar/backing vocals), and Shaun Andruchuk (bass) were filled with an incredible amount of energy as lights flashed with them blasting into newer songs “Walk Through Fire” and “Burn Your World.” With endless headbanging, raised instruments, and some behind the back guitar playing, the band provided non-stop action. Then, Jameson took a moment to introduce the next piece as “the new song” and went into “Cloudless” followed by 2014’s “Breaking the Madness.”
Moving along, the stage lights blacked out aside from a few flashes as a recording rumbled in with words that included how “religion is evil,” which ushered in title track off of 2014’s Virus of the Mind. Having everyone pumping their fists in the air during this performance, the set was nearly over, and with time for one more song, Jameson explained how they are halfway into the tour. Introducing his band to the audience, he promised all that they will return to New York as support for Dark Tranquility on November 4th before concluding with “Before Hope Fades.” Throwing their instruments into the air upon their conclusion, Starkill left a packed house more than satisfied.
As the evening continued to heat up, it was time for the Pennsylvania Metal act Black Crown Initiate. Recently visiting Gramercy Theatre a part of the Metal Alliance Tour with such acts as Dying Fetus, Acacia Strain, and Jungle Rot back in May, since then, Black Crown Initiate have released a new album, Selves We Cannot Forgive. Marking their third studio album since initially forming in 2012, Black Crown Initiate has built a respected fanbase in the Metal community with music that derives from all aspects of life, centralizing on the idea that everyone experiences from death, pain, suffering, and happiness.
Set to go, doomy red lights hit the stage as James Dorton (vocals), Wes Hauch (guitar), Andy Thomas (guitar/vocals), Nick Shaw (bass), and Jesse Beahler (drums) went straight into “Great Mistake” and “The Fractured One.” The vibe was dark, fun, and many eyes were glued to Dorton’s expressions and movements as his voice echoed through the venue. With limited time, they went straight into the new material with “For Red Cloud” and their latest album’s title track, “Selves We Cannot Forgive.” Dorton asked if everyone was having fun before stating they had a few songs left prior to going into “Purge” and thanking everyone before “Stench of the Iron Age.” Actively touring, Black Crown Initiate are heading out to Europe for a few shows after their run with Ne Obliviscaris. Hopes are they will be back in this neck of the woods soon enough, perhaps for their own headlining tour.
After an evening of three diverse acts, the time has finally arrived for Ne Obliviscaris. Acting as opening support for their previous North American run, with the lengthy opus-esque tunes Ne Obliviscaris generates, it seemed a limited set was simply not enough. One thing is certain, Ne Obliviscaris are unforgettable, and they were about to prove so to New York City.
Provoking excitement, Xenoyr (lead vocals), Tim Charles (violin/clean vocals), Matt Klavins (guitar), Cygnus (bass), Benjamin Baret (lead guitar), and Presland (drums) hit the stage, sucking everyone in with “Devour Me, Colossus (Part I) Blackholes,” from 2014’s Citadel. The combination between Charles’ clean singing and Xenoyr’s growls were mesmerizing and this was amplified by their distinct and different movements while performing. For instance, Xenoyr, once he headbanged and screamed into the microphone, it was as though he was creating art. In addition, Charles painted the stage with his violin solos, and his headbang movements were glowing as he made it evident he was elated to be in New York City.
The energy in the room was remarkable as the set continued with “Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise,” a song that included both a guitar and violin solo. The night continued to move along with “Xenoflux,” “Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux,” “Pyrrhic,” as well as “Forget Not,” and it was during these lengthy songs when Charles opened up to the crowd, asking all if they were having a good time. He then expressed the importance of the band’s relationship with their fans, and that gave a certain sense of unity amongst all. Mentioning the crowdfunding campaign they held in 2014, it help the band travel the entire world and achieve their dream. Continuing to express how the industry has changed, the band made a pledge to make music and tour, as long as fans continue to support. This honest and sincere speech incited screams of admiration and support, making everyone happy to be a part of the growing Ne Obliviscaris family.
With the band briefly leaving the stage, they returned for an encore as Charles thanked everyone once again and expressed how it meant the world to him and the his mates. Asking if everyone wanted to hear one more song, many shouted different tracks, only making the vocalist smirk and say, “Whatever you yell out, we will play what we already have in mind.” Truthful and funny, one of those tracks requested happened to be what Ne Obliviscaris planned anyway, and it was “Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope” as Charles concluded the performance crowd-surfing into the audience.
Ne Obliviscaris is one of the few acts that share such genuine honesty and is living proof that dreams do come true. Despite the sacrifices and debt, they work for the love of what they are doing and the devotion from their fans instead of working for a paycheck. They love what they do, and the New York City fans entirely embraced this show, one that could arguably be one of the best Metal shows of 2016. That all in mind, Ne Obliviscaris will be heading to Europe during the fall with Enslaved, but hopefully, with fans support, they will return to North America soon.