Welcome back, my friends! Let's head right into the next melee.
Australian progheads Ne Obliviscaris start us off with their sophomore album Citadel, one of the most ambitious metal albums of 2014. The band let you know where they're coming from right up front: seven tracks (the longest of which is over 16 minutes long), and two multi-part song suites. What ensues is lush, sumptuously orchestrated, and still furious when it wants to be. Ne Obvs (my nickname for them, thank you very much) clearly comes from the Cynic school of prog metal, although the lead electric violin plants a flag firmly in their 70s prog rock heritage as well. But rather than sounding derivative, Ne Obvs come off as reminiscently related to their roots while aiming for more emotionally resonant terrain. In this, they largely succeed. The literal centerpiece of the album, the relatively modest Pyrrhic, encapsulates all the album's strengths in one tidy ten-minute package, including the appreciable attention paid to pacing, allowing quieter atmospheric passages that nevertheless keep the propulsive material moving. Far from dragging on and on, Citadel ends with its most mature, measured, and heavy Devour Me, Colossus. I wish more prog did it like this.
And with that, we switch gears completely, and have an impromptu Scottish pirate party. Alestorm slosh forth with their fourth album Sunset On The Golden Age, and they waste no time, getting you in the mood with the double threat of Walk The Plank and the subtly allegorical tone poem Drink. This is beerhall metal at its most literal, it's undeniably fun, and the album also boasts some legitimately metalish moments throughout. But it's got no real staying power, lacks replayability, and aside from the 8-bit intro to 1741 (The Battle Of Cartegena) or the ill-advised Taio Cruz cover, has no surprises whatsoever. The all-too-serious Ne Obliviscaris wipe the floor with Alestorm. Yarrrrr.
Later tonight, check out Junius and Noneuclid