Tribute: Gord Downey (pre-mortem)

I was gonna’ write a short tribute, pre-mortem, to Gord Downey. There are others for whom I would have liked to have done the same: Arthur C. Clark; Kurt Vonnegut Jr.; Hunter S. Thompson; Leonard Nimoy; et al… Oh well, they didn’t get theirs’ on time, but Gord should.

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Sex, NeO, Chocolate… In That Order

Just when I thought that the music industry had nothing left for me, just as I was preparing to hang up my hat and satisfy myself with a playlist of old favourites never to be added to again, just as my complacency reached an all time “Meh”, along came NeO.

You won’t ever hear them on the radio. They wouldn’t care. These guys are real musicians, after all. They bring a presence and a grace and a particular aggressiveness to the stage which I cannot ascribe to any other band.

  • Tim Charles – violin, clean vocals
  • Xenoyr – growled vocals, lyrics
  • Matt Klavins – guitar
  • Brendan “Cygnus” Brown – bass
  • Daniel Presland – drums
  • Benjamin Baret – lead guitar

Formed in 2003, the Australian progressive/extreme metal band Ne Obliviscaris had come to Montreal for the first time just four months ago. They came again last night. I almost did, too. Last night was their first sold-out show outside of Aus!

My son, an aspiring musician, discovered them before they were even known outside of their native Australia. (He also found Carach Angren.) Good ear! There is hope for the new generation, after all. He told me of a tattoo worn by the lead singer Xenoyr based on a painting by Polish dystopian artist Zdzisław Beksiński. He thought he was teaching me something. I’ve been a fan of Polish art for a long time, and Beksiński is one of the best. He makes Giger look like a well-adjusted toddler by comparison. Small world.

Trumpeter – Zdzislaw Bekinski

Their musical style is beyond schizophrenic (a compliment, in this case.) A beautiful fusion of folksy fiddle and grunting progressive death metal the likes of which have not been seen anywhere, to my knowledge. Many times, when musical influences are combined, the result is a compartmentalized Mondrian-like back-and-forth jousting for dominance in any given track. NeO does it differently. The line between their varied influences is blurred, no, it is non-existent. Seamless transitions and a surprisingly effective melange give the music a feeling of completeness. The holes in their aural net are very small indeed. The reference to Beksiński is well-portrayed. His style is one of blending – combining images and effects into a seamless canvas full of symbols and meaning. Theirs is very similar, mixing styles and genres, and from it weaving a perfect tapestry, flowing, melodic, not-nearly-as-aggressive-as-it-may-seem, yet gut-punching, heart-squeezing, brain-twisting, and thought-provoking, a journey beyond the mainstream, beyond alternative, beyond the typical expectations of music itself. Needless to say, I was moved.

Many others were moved as well. The crowds attending their shows have ballooned and they were greeted with much excitement. The energy of the crowd was absolutely amazing! They may have to think about getting a bigger venue next time. (Don’t play the Olympic Stadium, though, the acoustics are terrible.)

Whether their music is your cup of tea or not, their talent and the moods they bring forth are powerful tools that make their shows emotional, almost spiritual experiences which are not to be missed by those who appreciate good music in all its forms. The members are all extremely skilled musicians and easily make up one of the tightest bands I have ever seen, and I expect to be seeing them, with my son, as often as they are in town. Hell, I would even travel to catch their shows!

Best of luck to NeO and I hope to be seeing them again, soon. As one enthusiastic fan yelled out, they will always be welcome here. If you are a fan, here’s why you should help support them. Visit Patreon for details.


Maybe with enough support, Xenoyr could afford to buy himself a new shirt or two. Marduk is cool and all, but… 😉