Ne Obliviscaris, live in London
Venue: Boston Music Hall, London
Support: Xerath, Brutai
It certainly is heartening to see a healthy crowd queueing outside The Boston Music Rooms on a rainy Wednesday night during a tube strike, all here to see some unique and challenging music.
That’s the good news for openers Brutai , the bad news is that it would appear the soundman is stuck in the chaotic public transport system as, for the first few songs at least, they sound like an incoherent soup of noise. It improves dramatically as their set progresses luckily, and the more it does the more Brutai begin to impress. Shimmering keys, pummelling riffs and a very nice line in instantaneous choruses are all present in their sound, and, for a band very much in their infancy, you have to say that they are definitely worth keeping tabs on. If the stars align they have the potential to come across like the love child of Ihsahn and Devin Townsend, at the moment it’s the roar of that child emerging from the womb. Let’s hope they get brought up properly.
And Brutai are in pretty good company when it comes to being robbed of their maximum sonic impact. As the same fate awaits Xerath who only receive fifty per cent of the bass, and therefore fifty per cent of the gut punching power, of their sound. It’s a real shame as Xerath are capable of truly exceptional live performances, and are one of UK music’s best kept secrets. Their meld of futuristic technical metal mixed with old school groove is unlike just about anything else doing the rounds at the moment. Guitarist Conor McGouran is a shredder in the Dimebag mould and an obvious focal point of their live experience. And, even not firing on all cylinders, watching them in full flow is like seeing Fear Factory playing a set of ZZ Top covers. A proper chin stroking, beer swilling wonder.
After the PA problems of the night so far you fear that Ne Obliviscaris  will have a torrid time trying to recapture what is an incredibly dense and complex sound. As it is the Aussies are so tight, so taut and so precise that they captivate throughout their 90 minute set. It’s a set of mass depth and total contrasts; the smiles and pumping fist of clean vocalist and violinist Tim Charles is oddly juxtaposed by frontman Xenoyr, every inch the seething antagonist and a dead ringer for Satyricon’s Satyr. Plus there is the wild musical shifts, from double paced, kick drum driven black metal stylings to beautiful passages of clean, beautiful, folk style guitar and violin interplay – usually within the same song!
Most songs pass way over the ten minute mark, and the cheers that eruptwhen Ne Obliviscaris glide into the twelve plus minute Forget Not is proof that this totally engaging band are not in the business of appealing to, or coaxing out casual music fans. This is for obsessives only, the sort of obsessives that would be willing to brave a wet Wednesday during a public transport blackout. And, with the amount of care, love and intelligence Ne Obliviscaris put into their work, it sure is good to see the numbers growing.