Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Live Wire: Depth and perseverance

By Joe Henley  /  Contributing Reporter

The Ocean will take listeners on a journey to the depths of the abyss Sunday night at The Wall.

Photo courtesy of Metal Blade Records

How much are you willing to suffer for your art? Some so-called artists or musicians are dedicated to the cause only until they are truly tested. As soon as things get tough, they throw their hands up, say things just didn’t swing their way and scurry back to the mundane monotonies of the everyday.

Not Melbourne, Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris. The melodic/progressive metal band, fronted by harsh vocalist Xenoyr, has gone over every hurdle a band could possibly encounter in the course of its ten-year existence. A continuous spate of lineup changes early on which saw only Xenoyr and violinist/clean vocalist Tim Charles remain would have been enough to shatter even the most idealistic of artists. But for Xenoyr, also known as Marc Campbell, giving in was never a notion to be even remotely considered. It’s about more than music. It’s about living with true purpose.

“Living and doing something without real meaning to you is completely pointless,” he says. “Your existence is pointless.”

The struggle to persevere has been anything but pointless for the Antipodean six-piece. Nine years after the band’s formation, Ne Obliviscaris, a name which means “forget not,” finally released its debut album in 2012. Titled Portal Of I, the record’s combination of melancholia, melody, progressive tendencies and extremity put it firmly on many a critic’s “Best of” list last year. It was an affirmation that the band hadn’t been frittering away its time in the preceding nine years, says Campbell.

“We knew the album was good to a degree, but to get such great reviews was quite overwhelming, and I guess that kind of reaffirmed that we weren’t wasting our time.”

Despite the accolades Portal Of I has won, there was a time when the album was dangerously close to not happening. Though five of the six members of Ne Obliviscaris are Aussies, lead guitarist Benjamin Baret hails from France. After the band’s original lead guitarist quit, Baret moved to Australia in 2009 to rehearse and play with the band, only to be sent back to his homeland when his application for a “Distinguished Talent” visa was rejected. These were dark times for certain members, Campbell recalls.

“The whole immigration saga took a heavy toll on the band, and calling it a day was considered by some if it fell through.”

But Baret would eventually be granted his visa on appeal, and Ne Obliviscaris has been going strong ever since, touring the world and finally embracing a future without so many dark clouds looming on the horizon. At one time, releasing Portal of I was as far ahead as the band could see. Now, there are infinite possibilities, says Campbell.

“Obviously we had to release the album but anything further than that seemed uncertain. But here we are today, solid and moving towards the future with open arms.”

Ne Obliviscaris — with support from Bloody Tyrant (暴君) and Until Seeing Whale’s Eyes (直到看見鯨魚的眼睛) — plays tonight at The Wall (這牆), B1, 200, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1). Doors open at 7:30pm, and the show starts at 8:00pm. Tickets are NT$1,200 at the door. A combo package which includes a ticket for Sunday night’s gig featuring The Ocean is available for NT$1,800.

■ The weekend of progressive metal continues on Sunday night at The Wall when The Ocean comes to town.

The aqua-centric band hailing from Berlin was founded by guitarist Robin Staps as an open collective of musicians in 2000, and has seen somewhere around 50 musicians pass through its ranks. Since 2009, however, the lineup has remained stable, more or less, and that number has been whittled down to a far more manageable figure of six.

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