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Album Review

Ne Obliviscaris – ‘Exul’ [Album Review]

If you’re yet to discover Ne Obliviscaris, jump in here and become enamoured. If you’re already a fan – sit back and enjoy the very pinnacle of their potential.



Ne Obliviscaris ‘Exul’ album artwork

That Ne Obliviscaris’ fourth LP, Exul, had a challenging conception would be an understatement. With tracking commencing in March 2020, travel restrictions kept the band apart physically for the recording process – meaning that the album is a truly international amalgamation of studios and engineers across four separate countries on three different continents. After what the band term “a slow, tedious life-altering two-year grind to complete Exul,” the album comes out March 24 on Season of Mist.

Whilst such separation through writing and recording could lead to a release feeling like its parts don’t quite fit together, Exul instead feels truly organic and somewhat alive. This is embodied immediately with opener “Equus,” where the interactions between twin vocalists Tim Charles and Xenoyr weave the overarching tapestry on top of guitar riff work that’s as strong as it’s ever been for the band. The first track (plus accompanying video) to be made available from Exul is a fitting opener that sets the extraordinarily high bar that the rest of the album consistently meets and, indeed, beats elsewhere too.

Similarly to the songwriting and songs themselves, the recording almost by committee avoids any pitfalls of discordance – production quality on Exul is even a marked step up from its predecessor Urn (2017). Individual elements within the busier passages in tracks fit together richly whilst being fully decipherable, and quieter moments are allowed to be just that: quiet. The breadth of dynamics allows the vocal side of the instrumentation to sing. It embraces the listener in the swell and retreat of the mood of the music in an extraordinarily emotive manner.

It will come as no surprise to existing fans of the band to learn some parts of the record are genuinely beautiful in their composition, none more so than the second entry in the album’s centrepiece: “Misericorde II – Anatomy of Quiescence.” Following the comparable cataclysm of the first part’s ending, the calm of Charles’ violins and other strings provides a welcome period of respite. Building into a tasteful through to technically blistering guitar solo from Benjamin Baret that a progressive metal icon like John Petrucci would be proud of, the almost exclusively instrumental track concludes through gradually accumulating heaviness whilst remaining entirely melodic.

Ne Obliviscaris

Ne Obliviscaris

On occasion, such moments of beauty on past Ne Obliviscaris releases have been abruptly punctuated by an immediate return to relative chaos, so the outstanding payoff of crescendo through increased layering with melody at its core, feels additionally satisfying for a long-time fan, as well as showcasing a honed sense of craftsmanship in the musical journey of the track. It’s a worthy multi-part epic that will not only delight those already aware of the band but shows them at their absolute peak in a manner which will surely attract new fans as well.

There’s never been a better time to be a fan of the heavier end of progressive metal, with artists such as Rivers of Nihil, Between the Buried and Me, Persefone and others all at the top of their game. Ne Obliviscaris not only deserve to sit amongst the pantheon of the genre’s greats, but they also do so with a wholly unique sound that’s never been better than on Exul. It’s a triumph for the band born through great tribulation and marks an early album of the year contender, such is its outstanding quality and the indelible impact it leaves upon the listener. If you’re yet to discover Ne Obliviscaris, jump in here and become enamoured. If you’re already a fan – sit back and enjoy the very pinnacle of their potential.

Exul Track Listing:

1. Equus
2. Misericorde I – As the Flesh Falls
3. Misericorde II – Anatomy of Quiescence
4. Suspyre
5. Graal
6. Anhedonia

Run Time: 51:53
Release Date: March 24, 2023
Record Label: Season of Mist