There’s something both profound and poetic about the way Ne Obliviscaris frontman Xen conducts himself. In his manner, in conversation, philosophies and eloquence – not what you’d expect from a progressive metal band, but 16 years of the Melbourne outfit, we’re used to it by now.
And he’s been busy, he says, preparing for The Painted Progression tour which kicks off next month with special guests Caligula’s Horse, Beyond Creation, Allegaeon and Rivers Of Nihil on the bill. This tour could almost be a mini festival given the colourful line-up, and it’s one that will complement the sound of Urn, Ne Obliviscaris’ 2017 album for which this tour marks the end of its cycle. “We wanted to do another Australian tour toward the end of the album cycle,” says Xen. “2017 may have been a little too early for people to have digested it properly.”
“We want to play with bands we’re friends with and ultimately, we were looking to have at least one band from overseas to support us on this tour because we like helping other bands have opportunities, considering many haven’t been to Australia.
“We’ve got a lot of friends in the US and Canada and we couldn’t decide who to bring [over] – so we’ve brought all of them!”
It’s been two years since the release of Urn but it’s easy to recall the split duality of sound, a motif that was courageously creative. At this stage, there’s still a lot to share and to unravel from the album in a live setting. “Especially when we first released Urn we weren’t necessarily familiar with the material live – it’s a different experience in the studio live,” says Xen.
“Performing live they take on a whole different life. Now we’re really comfortable with it, [having] played 100, 200 shows, or whatever, I think people can see how it’s meant to be represented.”
Because Ne Obliviscaris are already at working writing album number four, this is the only opportunity they have to get the live experience of Urn out to the masses – but there’s no sign of the new album coming out before the end of the year.
“We’re concentrating on recording in September,” says Xen. “Then you’ve got the dilemma of the time of the year that you’re releasing it. Ultimately we’re looking at release in the new year.”
The band’s output has been fairly steady since their inception, even if their journey has been a little rocky. Far past the controversies brought upon Ne Obliviscaris by a former member, Xen can safely say the band are in a more grounded place now that they’re not being stifled creatively. “Every band has their ups and downs,” he begins, reasonably. “It would be silly of us to think that losing members would affect the creativity of the band.
“For one person to affect us that way isn’t what we’re about, we’re about a more collaborative experience and everyone has input in or new sound. Having a new bass player [Martino Garattoni] since just after Urn, having fresh ears and fresh feel to our music will create a new and somewhat different aspect to our music.
“If anything, at the end of the day, it’s a much more positive experience knowing you can soldier on through any setbacks that you have. We’re proud of how we’ve moved along and I guess we’ve not only proved to ourselves but to others that a band is about each individual.”
Ne Obliviscaris’ music has always been devastatingly creative and is metal of the most intricate – this is the palette they’re currently working with, but Xen says there’s always room to step outside the box. “We’re six very individual people, none of us are very a like at all. We’ve that many different influences and backgrounds, we do pretty much what we want in regards to music – for us to be stuck on writing would ultimately be the end of the band, I think.
“People have an idea of what we sound like but we can pretty much do anything, I think, with all the different elements. People listening to us, it may sound different but at the same time, there will be a particular element in our sound which people will know is us.
“I think people are expecting us to be unexpected in what we do.”
Catch Ne Obliviscaris on The Painted Progression Tour with Caligula’s Horse, Beyond Creation, Allegaeon and Rivers Of Nihil this May.