Ne Obliviscaris, Truth Corroded, Black Orchid, Art in Exile @ Enigma Bar, Adelaide (09/06/2012)

Art In Exile are a local six piece of musicians toying with a mixture of styles under the dark, gothic and progressive umbrella, which can be found on their 2009 LP í†on Somnia. Mel with her dynamic extreme and melodic vocals steals a lot of the focus on stage but the huge keyboard stack played by Matt and the mix of sounds therein is responsible for the identity in their music. There are terrific guitars, solid backing vocals and bass playing, and on the rhythmic front, temporary stand-in drummer in Brody Green rounds out the group. A talented lot that display great ideas from the bombastic Diablo Swing Orchestra style, to the extreme, to the operatic, but it can all fall in a heap on the composition side of things and leave you rather bewildered. The mushy sound from the equipment didn’t help matters. Having said that they are an entertaining, positive and warm opening act.

Another Adelaide sextet, Black Orchid are an accomplished and respected act but their lineup was rather cobbled together. Following the semi-recent exit of Abby Skye, Chelsea Ellway has taken up frontwoman duties. She is a top-notch pitch-perfect singer, but it seems the job description is as much about allure as vocals as she prances around. It is a bit of a distraction from the music but if the image is so important to the band, then she is fitting. Jason Slack picks up the slack on guitar and was amazing as a quick fill in for Justin Hartwig, who was off playing a set for Mournful Congregation at the clashing date of the Evil Invaders festival in Sydney, which had drawn a few locals away. Also Brody had his second set for the evening, a recent permanent addition as drummer.

Their tracks are very refined, melodic, moving pieces, featuring gothic and operatic singing at the helm much like their influences from Europe such as Tristania, over a traditional grounding of metal. Their time is roughly split in half with their light and heavy modes, with hints of doom and power metal in their palette. It is often sweet and squeaky clean but they tease at some progressive metal with track length and shifts in mood which keeps things fresh. Chelsea took up acoustic guitar duties to round out the sound of the track Inertia, the definite highlight of their set.

With a long history and as flagship of a strong local record label Truth Corroded are a well recognised staple for Adelaide. Promising a thrashing they are the odd band out from this lineup, playing a more mainstream crop of metal, derivative of classic thrash, but I feel are more reminiscent of modern American acts like Lamb of God. They are very energetic and move around a heap on stage, but as a result are loose and messy with their playing, guitarist Chris Walden excepted when he is playing his leads.

Singer and personality Jason North is friendly, if a sweaty swearing shit-stirrer ever was. He jokingly invited Brody up to the plate for drum session number three, as he had filled in for them in the past, but he was out of the room. TC seemed to draw out their own fans who unexpectedly launched into a pit at one point. It wasn’t so much violent but a surprise as unwilling portions of a largely female crowd had to escape, with a purse and its contents being a casualty. The band is an intense and blunt battery of metal and a good one at that, but it just wasn’t the scene for them, as they are worlds apart from the sombre sets before and ahead.

After troubled years of lineup changes, a fierce battle with immigration and many other delays, this rare run of shows for Melbourne’s Ne Obliviscaris is to finally and officially launch the debut album Portal of I. On each date of this tour they played the album in its entirety, which actually meant playing their entire catalogue. Entering amid an ambient intro created with help by sleepmakeswaves, another sextet crowded the Enigma stage, with lefty guitar and bass on one side and the right handed violin and guitar on the other, it created some unintentional symmetry.

In the middle of it all was the austere brooding of vocalist Xenoyr, but showing no outward personality it falls to singer and violinist Tim Charles to runs the show. Together they are the contrasts of dark and light which appears to be what runs in the veins of the music, the blend of harsh extreme metal and more earthly sounds drawn from classical violin and traditional folk guitar parts like flamenco. Long songs with expertly seamless pairing of styles show how a band with the rare gift of time to slowcook compositions and refine ideas can pay off, and the focus and skill of each member is phenomenal as the songs demand the maximum of abilities.

The crux of the first track Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract with the savage screeching of “PARADISE FOUND!” remains a highlight. French import Ben Baret is a tour de force on guitar but the insane flamenco clean section from that same track remains daunting and wasn’t pulled off well enough this time. Also though it’s Dan Presland’s hands and feet immortalised on the LP, Nelson Barnes is now the full time drummer. He is clearly wired to extreme metal and all the blasting and thrash beats were remarkable though it seems the unusual styles like the latin beats are still foreign to him, and was where his few mistakes lay. At one point Tim appeared to serenade a swooning Chelsea from Black Orchid with his violin, the engaged father had better watch it! Ending with the crescendo of noise from their last track Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise, their set was bookended by ambience, and Ne Obliviscaris issued out amid awe and jaws agape.