Interview with Tim Charles and Xenoyr Campbell | By Nicholas Senior

If you’re looking for the best progressive metal band around, Melbourne based group Ne Obliviscaris’ latest release, Citadel is quite the compelling argument. Opening with a 23-minute opus is a bold strategy that absolutely paid off. The album is a stunning collection of epic and crushing tunes. If you want to think while you bang your head, this is the band for you.

What has the success of Portal of I meant to you? Considering it was a long-time in the making, did that make its reception that much more enjoyable?

Xen: The success to us meant that everything we had put into the music had paid off, so much effort and sacrifice went into its creation, so we couldn’t let it fail. We’re still quite overwhelmed with the response; we knew it was a quality album but really didn’t expect such a positive reaction overall, and I guess it was only after the dust had settled that we could really reflect as to how much impact the album had made. We still remain grounded though, we’re conscious bands come and go, so we’re here for the long haul, working just as hard, if not harder.

Can you tell me a bit about the concept behind Citadel? You can clearly hear a more unified theme on this record.

Xen: Citadel is used to represent the human form, each as a stronghold of sorts, and so each song is an exploration beyond those walls of flesh to reveal our core, the strength and frailty of our existence.

Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel cover

What was the writing process like for this album?

Tim: Portal of I was written over many years amongst a couple of line-up changes, and other setbacks. It was written whilst we were still learning about what we were good at and what we wanted our sound to be. With Citadel we felt we had a lot of pent up creative energy that was waiting to be released. We all had so many ideas that everything just flowed out and most of the album was written in about 6 to 9 months during 2013. We then went straight into the studio to record, and here it is! I think the quicker timeframe is one of the reasons this album sounds a lot more unified. Portal of I was more an album of 7 short but separate stories, whereas Citadel is really one big story that goes for 49 minutes and flows from start to finish, and we couldn’t be more proud of it.

Why or how did you choose to play violin? What led you to the band, and how did this extreme band take to a clean-singing violinist?

Tim: I started playing the violin when I was 6 years old, and so really can’t remember a time in my life where didn’t play it. My Mum has always told me that she asked me what instrument I would like to play one day when I was about 6, and that the violin is what I chose.  She was surprised by my answer, as nobody in the family played the violin, but thankfully for me, she signed me up for lessons.  Over the years the violin has become an essential part of my life… something I live and breathe with every day.

I joined Ne Obliviscaris way back in September 2003 when I happened to mention on a metal forum that I was a violinist, and Xen sent me a personal message, saying that he was starting a new band and liked the idea of having a violinist. I had always been a big metal fan since I was in high school, but viewed my passions for metal and violin as quite separate, so the idea of combining them within NeO was very appealing. I came along for a jam, and we connected musically and everything slowly went from there!

Can you tell me a little bit about the album cover? Was there a reason to go for the heavy blue and white color accents?

Xen: The cover displays themes from within the music and lyrics; it represents elements of humankind, things that are a part of us. I use a lot of symbolic references in most art I create to invoke various interpretations and thoughtful reflection, playing with themes of life and death, and exploring religious, spiritual and psychological subjects. The blue and white coloring was something I was conscious of when creating it; generally, I’ll get a feel from the music and lyrics as to how the colors should be, and because this album felt more unified conceptually, I want that represented by simplifying the spectrum.

Anything else for our readers?

Tim: Just a huge thank you to all our amazing fans and we can’t wait to head over to the USA on tour sometime in 2015!

Xen: I’ve been to the US a few times, and have to honestly say you’re some of the most generous and hospitable people I’ve encountered. I’ve nothing but high expectations when we venture there. Thank you for your support.

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