Melbourne extreme Progressive act Ne Obliviscaris, one of Australia’s finest Metal exports, recently wrapped up a 26-date tour in the US and Canada. Harsh vocalist and creative visionary Xenoyr took some time out to tell us about his experiences, and reflect on the success of Ne Obliviscaris’ latest album, ‘Urn.’

In terms of the new material’s reception live, Xenoyr writes, “The new songs were actually received really well, however that’s our perspective from stage and chatting with fans afterwards. We feel that from recording to stage, ‘Urn’ is by far the most similar as to how it comes across, whereas ‘Citadel’ and ‘Portal of I’ we’d received a lot of comments stating we were heavier live than on both those albums. The new material has more of a live feel / atmosphere, it definitely performs that way for us I think.”

Reflecting on the unique elements of touring the US, Xenoyr tells us, “I think the main aspect to touring the US is that its by far the most difficult touring we’ve done; the travel is more intense, the drives are longer, the weather each time has been more extreme (from sub levels to melting point), showers are harder to come by , the smell of weed is everywhere (I can’t stand it), the merch culture is far bigger than any other country.”

Xenoyr needs to look after himself on tour, and explains his approach to us.Being a singer (like Tim ) I have to be in more of a routine than any of the others; my health is priority as everything I do affects my voice; I isolate myself (more than usual) from the others, I regularly steam my voice, stay away from smoke, hydrate more than anyone else, stretching is mandatory every day, I exercise if I have any time apart and if we don’t have a lot of shows in a row, and I reduce the amount I talk to everyone. Tour must-haves for me though; music, a book, and something to write ideas on.”

Supporting Ne Obliviscaris on the tour are Allegaeon. Xenoyr says of them, “Touring with Allegaeon has been great, fantastic musicians, very humble, humorous, and easy to tour with. They were always willing to go out of their way to make the tour better for everyone, I can’t say a bad word. We made some new friends.”

Thinking back to ‘Urn’, Xenoyr fills us in on his contributions to the song writing and composition process. “In terms of the composition process, it’s a little harder for me as I don’t write the music itself, I merely try and guide the direction of how things sound i.e. constructive criticism / offer ideas for improvement. While the music is being developed this gives me a chance to get a feel of the music and from that I will work through my lyrical ideas. The other guys leave the art, words and ideas up to me, so in terms of not technically a ‘composer’ of the music I’m content with my creative input into NeO.”

Xenoyr is accomplished across many areas of the artistic spectrum beyond music. He tells us about the influences behind the artwork surrounding ‘Urn’. “Everything I do is influenced by art and literature in a way, I grew up studying old art and reading from an early age so it’s a part of me. The main influences regarding the art (and lyrics) were writers like Jules Verne, Milton, Lovecraft and even a little Byron. I wanted art that has an old world sensibility but still somewhat modern looking as I needed it to match our music; hence the colours used (reds / fire / sunset colours to symbolise destruction, death, pain but also emotions like hatred and also love), the abstract idea of Mother Earth pouring the sun onto herself, and the old world pose, something you may see in a Renaissance painting or something similar.”

A new area of artistic exploration for Xenoyr is video, particularly Ne Obliviscaris’ first music video for Intra Venus. “I’d created the concept and we went with it to music video maker, Adrian Goleby, who’d worked with Australian bands Voyager and Jack the Stripper. Adrian and I discussed the limited budget and the possibilities; it was created through two separate studios, one for the band aspect and the other being the narrative. I had no idea how difficult or how much work was involved in making a music video until this… now I know why there are so many people involved in large budget videos, because it pretty much stole all my time planning to get it done by the deadline, and really put Adrian under pressure to edit and piece it together afterwards. Had we had a large crew specialized in different areas it would’ve been far easier however far more expensive. It was the band’s first music video; day one was the band shoot, 16-17 hours, and day two (filmed a month later), the narrative was a good 12 hours. The next video we do is going to be a much smoother and less stressful experience for everyone now that I have an idea on all the different elements and parties that need to be involved.”

Xenoyr also has a side project called Antiqva, which he gave us the latest on. “My side project is going really well, thanks for asking. We’re working through having enough songs for an album, it’s been very productive over the last month, sending files though to one another, since we’re all based in different countries. With everyone being in established bands, it does have drawbacks especially considering we need to juggle everything between our own releases and touring schedules. All in all, it’s moving along quite nicely, it’s sounding rather dark, very, very different to NeO.”

There are plenty of other projects on the go for Xenoyr as well. “I have notes and notes of ideas I’m trying to put into motion,” he writes, “from a book, to working on pieces for an exhibition potentially, to concept shoots, and other video projects; my work will never be done and my hands never idle.”

First off though, Ne Obliviscaris will be returning home for an Australia and New Zealand tour in February. “Being home from tour is always a strange thing; the silence is deafening from being surrounded by noise 24/7 to nothing…it takes a few days to really hit. The “coming down” from tour doesn’t worry me too much as I like isolation and peace, and it does allow me to pick up my creative things from before tour. The band will ideally pick up writing again, for the next album…we’re trying to be a bit more pro-active as we know 2018 is going to be an intense year of touring, and so the sooner we get a lot of writing done, we won’t be stressing about the length of time to our 4th album.”