With many thanks to Wild Things Presents, this past Saturday Melbourne’s renowned Max Watt’s opened its doors in host of a night of Progressive Metal talent. The occasion marked the return of Ne Obliviscaris to Australian shores in celebration of the ‘Urn’ album release. The genre-blending progressive extreme Metal fusion have toured extensively through the USA and across the globe before their welcomed return home. Stopping off first in Adelaide the night before, the band are set to continue on across Australia and New Zealand, before jetting off to the UK and Europe throughout March and April. This is a band that simply can’t be pigeonholed; between the classical, jazz and flamenco elements, and combined elements of Black and Death Metal melodies, they are a sure-fire feast for the senses.

Instrumental three-piece The Omnific opened the night at 8:20 pm with a majestic yet humble and mellow presence. Their soulful grooves effortlessly drew a crowd toward the stage, sweeping the audience away with every melodic harmonization between the dual bass playing of Matthew Fackrell and Toby Peterson-Stewart. Jerome Lematua whipped about his kit, getting into a fluid flow of rhythmic stick movements whilst also headbanging. Twinkling sound effects via backing tracks created an atmospheric mood of magic and fantasy that seemed to entrance the crowd. With the absence of vocals, the band skilfully moved the audience as they emotively worked their instruments, with crowd members noticeably swaying and closing their eyes being clear proof that their expression was being received loud and clear. Their set included tracks from the bands 2017 LP release ‘Kismet’ including Bugbear and the title track, as well as works from their 2016 ‘Sonorous’ EP. The stage lighting shifted between bright whites and blues into deepened red glows, adding to the atmospheric quality of the band’s stage presence.

Next in line at 9:10 pm were local Prog rockers Circles. Their sound and energy encapsulated an essence of “core’”genres, blended with depth and heaviness found in the likes of Death Metal. Vocalist Ben Rechter addressed the crowd, “How’s it going Melbourne? Let’s get sweaty!” mustering up some activity in the mid-section of the pit area closest to the stage, with select few punters breaking into full bodied headbanging, tossing their hair about as if it were salad. There was no shortage of breakdowns, with shifts ranging between brisk and heavy, into deepened slowed chugs. Vibrant light displays swirled the stage, adding to the excitement. At one point bassist and scream vocalist Drew Patton dramatically stood on top of the foldback speaker situated in front of him. Rechter’s vocal tones reminded me somewhat of Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. At one point some giggling sparked from the comment, “How f*cking sick were The Omnific earlier?! They were incredible… wish I was that good when I was 12!”  Their set concluded with a climactic burst of pit activity in accordance with a breakdown.

Enter Ne Obliviscaris at 10:15 pm to the instrumental track Devour Me, Colossus, (Part II): Contortions and an excitement-rife room packed to the brim with punters. It was quickly evident that big things were about to ensue, both in sound and atmospheric energy. The set fittingly burst into the ‘Urn’ opening track Libera (Part I): Saturnine Spheres, which saw Tim Charles effortlessly orchestrate the crowd into a choral army of “woah-oh” and aerial arms, in accordance with the lyrics. Charles was instantly captivating whilst he elegantly glided his bow across the strings of his violin, impressively managing to break into explosive headbanging whilst maintaining technical prowess, and coordinating both tasks with mind-blowing tact. This followed into the fan favourite track And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope from the band’s debut LP ‘Portal of I’ which saw an outbreak of pit activity (props to the audience member who multitasked moshing whilst holding a vinyl record in the air in an effort to avoid damaging their beloved purchase). Clap chanting prevailed amidst the epic duality between the whirring guitars of Benjamin Baret and Matt Klavins. During moments of the set, Charles and Xen would bang their heads in unity; an awesome show of kinship given the boldly contrasting difference in the vocalists’ individual stage presence. Xen would slump over his mic stand, whipping his hair toward the ground with certain a slowness and solemnity in time with Dan Presland’s erratic drum patters. The man juxtaposed dark intensity against Charles’ boisterousness.

Charles then took a moment to note that “after travelling the world it’s always good to be back home in Melbourne,” before introducing the next song Intra Venus from their latest LP ‘Urn’ which sparked cheering amongst the unrelenting fire within the entire crowd. Next the crowd were taken back to 2014’s ‘Citadel’ LP with a performance of Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux which saw another clap chant break out along to the violin melodies. Xen exited the stage dramatically, leaving his mic stand swinging to a standstill. Martino Garattoni intensely scanned the crowd in a crouched stance as he graced the audience with Doomy bass riffs. At one point Charles’ mic momentarily disconnected from the cord, which he took in his stride; laughing it off and busting into more headbanging, making light of the situation before quickly returning to order. At another point he assumed a Jesus pose dramatically whilst the crowd broke out into a faster paced, metronomic clap chant amidst the sonic ambience coming from the stage. Garattoni took the spotlight with some tasty soloing, and Baret strummed so erratically that it appeared as if his hand was briskly waving. Hands were thrust into the air once again, this time with the inclusion of “hey!” chanting. A highlight of the night’s set was the welcoming of a guest violinist by the name of Natasha, elegantly dressed in a gown she gracefully entered a melodic dance between Charles’ instrument and her own. It was captivating and whimsical for the duration.

As the crowd began to sense a closing of the set approaching, they began to holler for an encore before erupting at Charles’ question, “You guys wanna hear some more?!” After some further crowd provocation, the band delved into the ‘Urn’ title track, performing both Urn (Part I): And Within the Void We Are Breathless and Urn (Part II): As Embers Dance in Our Eye, much to fans’ delight. Klavins experienced some momentary technical difficulties, which was rectified with some ad lib guitar and violin whilst the issue was resolved. Fists flailed, chants prevailed, and if you think it ended there, folks, you can think again! The crowd evidently couldn’t get enough “Ne O” as punters could be heard shouting “give us f*ckin’ MORE!” before a “one more song” chant broke out. The band returned to the stage for a final performance, with Charles noting, “We’re gonna play one more song… someone is shouting ‘three more songs!’… we’re gonna play one more song the length of three normal length songs, that’s how we work!” This only fuelled the room’s excitement further. Punters put forth their all, wasting not the final chance to get rowdy along to Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes.