Obscure Sphinx
Epitaphs


4.5
superb

Review

by Arche CONTRIBUTOR (81 Reviews)
September 16th, 2016 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Warsaw-based post-metallers Obscure Sphinx somehow top 'Void Mother'.

Watching Obscure Sphinx grow as a band is becoming a favourite hobby of mine. A juggernaut of sludge, doom and a smidge of ambient, they got the hang of the bludgeoning thing pretty early on – mixing eight string guitars with sludgy riffs and chugs is practically a marriage made in heaven, and throwing a truly warped vocal performance over the top proves the wanton icing on the cake. While they’re only three albums in, what’s fascinating is, with every new release, the atmospheres seem to improve. The dynamic dichotomies widen. The balancing act of trying to make an album both beautiful and heavy becomes more necessary to achieve, yet harder to strike - and yet, Obscure Sphinx have managed it both times like it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Therefore, it’s fair to say that Epitaphs is a commanding display of everything that the Poles already did fantastically on Void Mother – the earth-shaking riffs, vocals, and the fragile atmospheres – but tweaked, more cohesive, and even better for it. What’s so satisfying about Epitaphs is how seamlessly it flips between contemplative (remorseful, even) ambient passages to investigating the lowest recesses of an 8-string guitar, all the while staying firmly within the sludgey, post-metal niche the Poles have carved themselves – and the beautiful thing is, it doesn’t necessarily go in the way one might expect. For example, the seguing of choppy, helicopter-like riffs in the first half of ‘Nieprawota’ into its twinkly, moving conclusion may not be the traditional way around for music usually geared towards the ‘payoff’, but thankfully Obscure Sphinx make these sections as rewarding as the neck-breaking phrases they’ve already proved themselves with.

Epitaphs’ most distinctive feature is still the frightening Zofia ‘Wielebna’ Frás. As deft at beautiful, delicate cleans as she is at nauseating, unhuman growls and gargles, the conviction with which she manages the two (and everything in between) is arguably the album’s biggest selling point. ‘Memories of Falling Down’ shows perfectly how her performance is key to the album’s polarised makeup; its first half highlights the sheer power present in her cleaner performance, imbuing a devotional quality within the organ-led ambience, whereas the second could not be farther in mood, as Wielebna’s shouts turn to wretched spews by the time it reaches its climax. Her vocals don’t just shift with the music’s ever-progressing nature, but are a key component of the stories being told; uncomfortable, bitter stories of life and death, and getting every ounce of the emotion required to be rightly affecting.

If for a moment I may commit the cardinal sin of referring to another review, pistolpete’s write-up for Void Mother suggested that Obscure Sphinx were on their way to becoming a ‘possible new post-metal titan’; if Void Mother was the precursor, then Epitaphs is certainly the realisation. In being both as achingly beautiful as it is ruthless, the Poles surely find themselves among the best of what post-metal has evolved to, and set a new benchmark for what unestablished pretenders should be striving to achieve.



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user ratings (61)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2016


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Honestly, if one album is gonna challenge the new Ulcerate this year for me, then this is it. Addicting, intense stuff. Any comments, corrections, suggestions, whatnot as always welcomed :]

Can only stream the first on their Bandcamp at the moment, although at the moment there are all the tracks on YouTube... I'm just not sure they're supposed to be there yet. Still, they're out there :3 - http://obscuresphinx.bandcamp.com/album/epitaphs

parksungjoon
September 16th 2016


5383 Comments


band rules didnt know they had a new one coming out

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2016


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, it went a bit under the radar this one. Think I only knew this was coming out cos someone made a news article on here about it right at the end of August.

Totengott
September 16th 2016


4130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The track that was released earlier rules, I need to listen to this in full.



Have a pos.

EvoHavok
September 16th 2016


7238 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Amazing review, Aaron. Gotta check this.

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2016


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys ^-^ Yeah, hope you dig!

Totengott
September 16th 2016


4130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The other tracks rule as well, as expected, really digging this.

PistolPete
September 16th 2016


4493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Holy cow, a shoutout from my old review lol thanks man. Good review, I'm still yet to listen to it, so glad somebody reviewed it. I can't wait to hear the album.



Update: I sucked it up and bought it. Was hoping it would eventually show up on Apple Music but a week later it still hasn't. Great review man, pos

Digging: Sarin - Darker Lakes

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2016


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I wound up buying it as well, but I was about 95% sure it wasn't gonna suck and... well, here we are.

Cheers man, glad you liked it :]

Flugmorph
September 16th 2016


17464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gonna give this a listen. void mother always intrigued me the few times i listened to it

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

teamster
September 16th 2016


2048 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not as good as their previous - they simplified things on this one. I do like it however. Excellent review and thanks.

RustCohle
September 16th 2016


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review for a great album.

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2016


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks a lot guys ^_^

I'm not sure I agree with that they simplified things - and if it is simpler, then I think that's come at the benefit of a more cohesive album. Hopefully it grows on you more though.

cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2016


1815 Comments


Fantastic review. VM was one of my favourite albums of 2013, and while this hasn't quite clicked yet, I am still hopeful. Took me a fair bit to get into VM, but if there is one thing that remains true in both records, it is that, as you indicated, Zofia is absolutely enthralling to listen to.

PortalofPerfection
September 18th 2016


1991 Comments


So if Void Mother was meh (3) for me, should I bother with this?

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
September 18th 2016


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks cryptologous :] Yeah, Zofia's vocals are really what make this band for me tbh.

@Portal: Errrrrrrm not sure. Depends what your issue with Void Mother was really. I'd say if your issue was that there simply wasn't enough that grabbed your attention then I wouldn't bother. If it's anything else I'd say give this one a chance.

Flugmorph
September 23rd 2016


17464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Better then the new neurosis album

Totengott
September 23rd 2016


4130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Same level really for me.

OmairSh
October 8th 2016


14338 Comments


Late to this. Gotta check this shit

PistolPete
October 17th 2016


4493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Finally found the time to sit and absorb this (ironically while sitting in brutal traffic coming out of Toronto yesterday). I absolutely love it, but it doesn't beat Void Mother unfortunately. Doesn't break as many barriers IMO.



Still though, great album. Love the spastic heavy part of Nieprewota like 3 mins in. And I especially love the first two songs.



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