It was a show that wasn’t supposed to happen. When the first draft of the touring schedule came in, a return to Dublin’s Fair City was nowhere on the list for prog-metal masters Ne Obliviscaris. Thankfully, this did not sit well with vocalist and violinist, Tim Charles who, after the huge success of their Irish debut in 2016, decided not only to add a show but to kick off their U.K and European tour supporting their latest album ‘Urn,’ in Dublin’s Voodoo Lounge. If the fair city helped provide some inspiration for the record, their return to it was equally as inspirational.
First to hit the stage were Virvum, a death-metal force that while technically impressive to watch, delivered little else of serious promise. Predominantly harking to the sounds and methods of the past, Virvum left the stage with a lot to be desired. Unlike Allegaeon, playing direct support to the evening’s headliners. Straight out of Denver/Fort Collins, Colorado, Allegaeon also inhabit the realm of death metal, but with a distinctly modern take. This, coupled with a live show you only wanted more of, ensured Allegaeon left the audience well and truly won over.
As it is their first European tour, Allegaeon are out on the road with a hunger to leave an impression this side of the pond. If they continue to follow suit from their Dublin show, they’ll be guaranteed to.
There was no slow burn or easing into it once Ne Obliviscaris took to their stage. “Libera (Part 1): Saturnine Spheres” kicked the show into full swing as a commanding Tim Charles charmed the crowd, were as guttural vocalist, the fierce, almost serpent like Xenoyr, favored a more brutal approach; heading banging madly over the stage into the wildly enthusiastic crowd. What followed were some of the heaviest, most beautiful, and spine chilling moments you’re likely to experience under one roof, and within one set, in 2018.
Performing “And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope”, a fan favourite and unarguably a NeO classic, reinforced the knowledge that this is not a band composed of average musicians. Drummer Dan Presland, always a treat to watch live, never missed a beat, while the strings of violinist Tim Charles would have seen a teary eyed Andre Rieu frantically exclaiming, “We love you Tim!” The night also marked a milestone occasion, as it was the first show new bassist Martino Garattoni played since being announced as an official, and permanent, member of the band just days earlier. On the evidence of the night Garattoni makes for a fine fit, musically and in his performance. This was witnessed several times, particularly in the epic performance for “Painters of the Tempest (Part 2): Triptych Lux”, revealing Garattoni as a technical beast on the six string bass, and both fun and a pleasure to watch as he bounced off other band members.
A mere eight songs made up a storming two hour set from Ne Obliviscaris, a fact hilariously acknowledged when Charles at one point cited that the band had only two songs left, but that it was okay as that still gave them a solid twenty-seven minutes! One of the evening’s highlights came from the Irish inspired, “Eyrie”, a track originally called (and in some corners of the world still referred to as) Dublin Prog. An enthralling duet between Charles and fellow violinist/fiancé Natalija (Natasha) May bewitched the room, absorbing and releasing a sense of long forgotten spirits.
Not wasting time with encores, NeO brought the bold, beautiful and bewitching night to a ruthless close with “Devour Me, Colossus (part 1): Blackholes”, gifting their fans with set lists and handshakes before bidding them farewell for now.
If their song writing and studio recordings weren’t already testament enough that Ne Obliviscaris are a band reaching into the future, their live show makes plain that Ne Obliviscaris are so far ahead of the game they are blasting open doors left and right for new bands to follow. Currently on their third album, the prog-masterpiece that is ‘Urn’, Ne Obliviscaris are already overdue an explosion on to a far larger stage than the one they currently dominate. Catch these guys in an intimate venue while you still can, so you can say “I was there when…” Because on the evidence of their thunderous gig in the Fair City, they won’t be playing smaller venues for too much longer if there’s any justice in music.