Ne Obliviscaris – Exul (Album Review)

In the words of Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” Very true to life, in terms of delivering a top-notch, quality album of music in this unpredictable world, Ne Obliviscaris has done just that with their latest, Exul.

Released on March 24, 2023 through Season of Mist, it has been nearly six years since the six-piece Australian Progressive Extreme Metal band put out an album. A lengthy span of time, clearly a lot of effort went into Exul. A very diverse album, where development began back in March 2020, and carried on through nearly three long years of re-workings, during all struggles in-between… Ne Obliviscaris’ Exul comes together with six beautifully long final arrangements.  

Full of inspirational violin, guitars, drums, bass, keyboard, matched with exceptional dual singing by Tim Charles (clean vocals) and Xen (harsh vocals), there is truly a lot going on in just under an hour of music. The final Ne Obliviscaris album to feature Dan Presland on drums, he along with remaining members – Benjamin Baret (guitar), Matthew Klavins (guitar) and Martino Garattoni (bass) – unify together for a very tight ensemble where you can feel the passion. Speaking of the instrumentation, there are also a few extras spots on Exul that really standout worth mentioning which include a viola, cello, and a couple of poignant guest vocal spots.

Now, it is true that Ne Obliviscaris have always excelled in their creativity of multi-genre mixes that they have fine-tuned to perfection. However, perhaps due to the length of time they had to create Exul, coupled with the dark times around us and deafening silence created by lack of live performances, something extra magical came of it. In fact, the whole album – from the twelve-minute introductory song “Equus,” to the three and a half minute ending tune “Anhedonia ” – flows so fluidly through the crescendos and diminuendos, thus enhancing the overall listening experience. For example, they seamlessly fly through complex melodic riffs to serene violin solos, all while the night and day vocals of Xen and Tim Charles flutter in waves through the thick of it all.

Challenging to pinpoint the boldest moments on the album, it must be said however that the two parts “Misericorde I -As the Flesh Falls” and “Misericorde II-Anatomy of Quiescence” seem to tell a very heartfelt tale that should be played live in its entirety… that is if it is attempted at all. The strings involved on these two tracks are beautifully executed in a way that you are comfortable to completely engulf yourself into the stellar inter-workings of their seventeen collective minutes. This is followed by the wildly heavy, yet progressive “Suspyre” that exceeds just over ten minutes.

All in all, even though Ne Obliviscaris has always been known for their strong identifiable approach to songwriting, after throwing a stir-fried mix into the pan, the subtle yet intricate differences on each of their albums is distinctive to the trained ear. In particular, if anyone is pondering what is the best Ne Obliviscaris album to date, Exul arguably should be voted on top of that list. It is for these reasons Cryptic Rock easily gives it a 5 out of 5 stars. 

Ne Obliviscaris – Exul / Season of Mist (2023)
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