There are few bands in the metal genre as ambitious as Polish band Obscure Sphinx when it comes to employing multiple genres into their music. If one had to categorize them, the closest you could get is some fusion of post/doom-metal with eight-string guitars sprinkling djent influence here and there. Nowadays, the band can even be heard branching into black metal and grind, sacrificing absolutely nothing in terms of quality by so doing. However, back on their debut album Anaesthetic Inhalation Ritual
, the list of influences were as simple as they got; namely, progressive metal, post-metal, and djent.
There’s a reason acts like Tool pop up when this band’s name circulates around the site. They are certainly the primary foundation Obscure Sphinx use to construct their earlier sound on here and the record plays out like a Tool album with a more metal flavour. On a song like “Nastiez”, the instruments are what bring this to mind the way the band slowly allows the song to materialize; systematically bringing in guitars, cymbals, weightier percussions, and finally the whispers and maniacal wails of front woman Zofia Fras. On the second part of “Bleed in Me”, it’s the vocals that portray the perfect balance of melody and aggression that Maynard Keenan commanded back in the day. Closer “Paragnomen”, the strongest song on this album, jumps frequently between latter-day Tool (think Lateralus
and 10,000 Days
) and more standard post-metal in what is an absolutely thrilling closing track.
To be certain, there is more at work here than just Tool. When both “Nastiez” and “Bleed in Me, Pt. 2” really get up and running in their later stages, the Meshuggah influence starts to appear in grandiose fashion. All members of the band work to supply their audience with appetizing onslaughts of distorted riffs. On “Eternity”, the build-up has a very old-school Neurosis feel, like something off their masterpiece Through Silver in Blood
. Fras’ vocals are an entirely different beast too. When she’s not singing in her tantalizing cleans, she absolutely shreds her vocal chords with shrieks that wouldn’t be so out of place in black metal. It’s really difficult to imagine the band without her, as she adds a sense of both theatricality and fury that compliments the music perfectly.
At the end of the day, it’s amazing that Anaesthetic Inhalation Ritual
was actually the starting point for this band. It sounds as tight as most bands dream of being by maybe their second or third album. What’s hard to ignore though is just how close to their influences they still sounded (if my endless comparisons above didn’t already give that impression). They ultimately fix that in future albums, but here they hadn’t fully carved out their niche yet and it’s really the one blemish of the entire record. Still, the metal behemoth that is Obscure Sphinx today rears its head a few times throughout this. Their debut is undoubtedly something worth checking out if they’ve already caught your ear or if you are generally just a huge fan of their influences. You won’t be disappointed.