Review - Obscure Sphinx: Epitaphs
Obscure Sphinx is a band not too many have heard of, even in the post metal community. And they really should be heard… Formed around 2009 and hailing from Warsaw, Poland, they’ve made quite the name for themselves within their native land and around Europe. Their unique take on music is unrestrained by the “metal genre” and, frankly, hard to define. Combine all the best elements of Post Metal, Sludge/Doom Metal, Experimental Rock; and throw in a little Tool, a little Cult of Luna, and a whole lot of atmosphere and beauty to the mix and you have at least a start to what could be described as their sound. I became a huge fan after listening to their second studio album, 2013’s Void Mother, off of a recommendation on Spotify. Hooked instantaneously on their combination of heavily tuned 8-string guitars, gigantic atmosphere, and extremely talented female vocalist Zofia “Wielebna” Fraś, I had to hear more! Fortunately a new album was on the horizon and it’s coming does not disappoint!
The new release, entitled Epitaphs, features 6 tracks divided into two sections: Pre-mortem and Post-mortem. From one moment to the next we are taken on a musical journey spanning long droning distorted atmospheric plains, to jungles of heavy drums, mountains of dark and brooding riffs, serene pools of warm whispered vocals, reaching peaks of chaotic thunderstorms foreshadowing thoughts of sludge and doom and beauty and death. The thing I think I like so much about Obscure Sphinx is their ability to make music a journey - an experience - rather than just another song. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each song is like a story, musically, and each has their own twists and turns. Post metal band ISIS’ frontman Aaron Turner once described post metal as “thinking man’s metal,” and there could not be a more excellent way to describe the music Obscure Sphinx crafts.
Combining elements of long synthetic drones, rhythmic drums, down-tuned and chaotic guitar, and Wielebna’s powerhouse vocals, this album takes great strides to transform what was a perfect sound on their previous album, and push it even further. While I can’t honestly say this was absolutely achieved, the result is a near-perfect expansion of what they started with coming from Void Mother, and honestly, it's likely my favorite album of the year. I, myself, am not a fan of ratings on reviews, but this is for sure not an album to be missed! If a 4.5 out of 5 is as close as I can get to perfect, then that’s what this is. If you’re a fan of metal, post metal, gloomy rock, or just find yourself looking for the next ‘Tool’ or ‘Cult of Luna’ experience, this is for you. I am personally excited to see how this band continues to mature over time and hope that someday they will make it state side for what I’m sure is guaranteed an incredible performance! Be sure to pick this up from their band camp page, and while you’re at it pick up Void Mother and Anaesthetic Inhalation Ritual as well or check out the latter two on Spotify!