Review Summary: The eerie and evil beginnings of a possible new post-metal titan.
Post-Metal seems to be at a place where it lacks a true leader to forge its path, with many of the genre’s classic albums long since passed. Now that Isis is gone and Cult of Luna’s status is in question, there really isn’t a band carrying the genre anymore. Neurosis and The Ocean are still around, but the most recent albums from both were neither terrible nor anything truly groundbreaking. I’m not arguing Obscure Sphinx is the new undisputed leader of post-metal, don’t be mistaken. It’s too early in their career to expect that from them. But if their sophomore effort Void Mother
is any indication, the band might well be on their way to becoming one.
This female-fronted Polish band employs a lethal mix of post-metal with hints of doom and sludge layered throughout their expansive and often lengthy tracks. Every so often, you’ll also get a slab of slower-tempo djent reminiscent of Meshuggah. It's bleak, it's depressing, and it's goddamn gorgeous. Void Mother
is a natural progression from their earlier debut Anaesthetic Inhalation Ritual
, a similar but more fine-tuned version that dares to do just a bit more. As is typical with bands of this nature, this is not an album you can just play and understand in one sitting. It requires the listener to absorb the album over time. And when I say “absorb”, what I really mean is you have to sit down and simply take it for a few listens while the band delivers crushing onslaughts of bone-chilling riffs and harsh vocals, the latter coming from its ferocious and talented front woman Zofia Fras. Tracks like “Feverish” and “Nasciturus” see her impressively transitioning between abrasive screams and singing that could be as accessible as anything off a Lacuna Coil album.
The talent of Obscure Sphinx goes beyond just the vocals. They are truly a complete package, the instrumentation being equally as powerful. The opening sections of “Lunar Caustic” bring back feelings of Neurosis with the way the song creepily slithers into form over the opening minute and evolves into a terrifying beast of a track. The bass is often used to instill an eerie atmosphere as it does in the brilliantly executed “Waiting For The Bodies Down The River Floating”. This song is built up over the course of its eleven minutes with the precision of a true craftsman. But just like the post-metal titans of old, it’s the eventual peaks the band reaches that truly make this album spectacular, the one from closer “The Presence of Goddess” being the most shiver-inducing of the bunch. It’s the longest song on the album, but also the best-paced. It showcases everything all in one song, constantly changing pace from the ear-splitting and ferocious highs to the deep brooding lows. When Fras delivers one of the final refrains of “I feel your grace”
and lets her voice slowly disappear into the epic storm of guitars and haunting choirs, the feeling is that of satisfaction. This band knows how to finish an album off in style. Void Mother
is a complete package, reminding you of what you used to love about all the genres it incorporates while staying true to its own unique sound. And by the sounds of it, an even more terrifying storm could be looming.