Obscure Sphinx are one of those special bands that openly wear their individuality like a badge of honour while still fashioning songs that really, really hit the spot. Post-metal can sometimes be one of the most emotional, atmospheric and intense sub-genres there is, and Obscure Sphinx embody this realised potential perfectly. Their third album Epitaphs is 57 minutes of pure class. Here is a band that know what they’re doing and know that they’re doing it very well indeed, thank you.
Guitarist Aleksander Olo Łukomsk told me all about their latest release, with tantalising hints of secrets and ambitions to come…
Introduce us to Obscure Sphinx
We are a post metal/ sludge/ doom/ prog. etc. from Poland. Fronted by a female vocalist, accompanied by low tuned 8 string guitars and a 6 string bass. Operating since 2008 with 3 records done so far and a lot of concerts played throughout Europe.
What are your influences?
We try to mix influences of dark, slow and super sad stuff with metal groove. So you would be probably able to hear Amenra, Neurosis, Cult of Luna or even Emperor mixed with Meshuggah, Tool or Rammstein. Ok that’s maybe a bit too far but you get the point. Dark groove is what I like to think about our music.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Oathbreaker the whole Rheia album, I love Marylin Manson’s “The Pale Emperor”, whatever from Oranssi Pazuzu, Hans Zimmer “Black Hawk Down”, Vektor “Terminal Redux”.
Tell us about Epitaphs
It was a really hard record to do on many levels. First of all our recent CD Void Mother raised the bar very high. I’m a pretty ambitious motherfucker and I remember when I joined the band after the first record, which was like the debut of the year everywhere I was like – I have to make everything I can to make this record even better. And two years after the VM I set the same goal. Those ambitions gave birth to great ideas and music sometimes sacrificing teamwork and everybody’s enjoyment. The recording process was quite seamless but we had some hiccups with the mixing and finding the right sound – we wanted to save as much live feeling in it as we could and that was also difficult because band rarely sound like this these days. Last but not least me personally plus other band members too had some difficult personal life during the writing and recording of this album and that also can be heard on the record.
How do you think it compares with Void Mother?
For me this album is super complete from start to bottom. It just flows like one big theatrical play. You don’t get bored anywhere, it’s more diversified than the previous record, it’s harder, sometimes faster and stronger, has new elements to our music and retains the old. An it’s sad as fuck, it’s even sadder than the previous record which is pretty much impossible. 🙂
If you were able to do Epitaphs over again, is there anything you would change?
Nope, not for this album. I have some thoughts for the next one but for now I’ll keep it as a secret. 🙂
How were the songs written?
We write both home and jamming in the rehearsal room. With the previous CD we had single riffs mainly and then jammed them over and made song structures together. That had its benefits but also limits so this time we decided to write more at home – more riffs and basic song structures and then jam them over and adjust to everybody.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Well probably Memories Of Falling Down, because I remember writing those riffs when my life was really falling down and they still sing the same emotions to me. But also I love Nothing Left – to me it’s one of the best metal songs that I ever heard. I remember imagining it in my head before I even wrote the first riffs – I saw the stage and band members entering it separately to form a band – so the song starts with a drone intro, then the bass appears, drums, right guitar, left guitar and then boom in comes the main riff. It’s so powerful to play that as the opening song. And also worth mentioning is the last song on the record – At The Mouth Of The Sounding Sea – these are also some of the saddest riffs of mine and I really love the super slow vibe of this song. It’s also very different to what we used to play.
How was the cover artwork chosen?
During the writing process we always search for visual inspirations. One of them was the art of Mario Duplantier from Gojira – I knew his work, but one day I encountered this crying man and I fell in love. Since the last cover was so descriptive I thought that this time we could use something very simple – and that was it. Though we had so many other great ideas this time that this one was also hard to decide upon. But we are really proud of how it sticks together with the album.
Is cover artwork still important these days do you think?
For us it’s very important – helps you to set the vibe for the record, helps you to interpret it in the way we would. This is like a sign. And that goes not only on the CD itself but also on the merch, the backdrop of the stage – so it sets the mood for the band for a few years that we promote a certain record. Maybe that’s not the case with power metal records, but for us it’s part of the message.
Where do Obscure Sphinx fit into the global music scene in 2016?
People that encounter our band say that we are really something different and we have our own style. This is not forced just so happened that 5 individuals form a mixture that has never been heard. Also we have so many different inspirations…one time I heard that there are a million bands sounding like one band, but there are a few bands that sound like many different bands. We are the latter. Plus we kick ass live and we sound killer.
With music becoming increasingly digital in nature, what’s your take on the digital/physical debate and the current state of the music industry?
We have to get used to the new world order here – people buy hard copies only for collection or to support the band. Now the real profits lay in live shows and merchandise. And that’s OK as long as people attend those shows and show support if they really like the band.
Playing live – essential or pointless?
Essential – not everybody can play live what they put together in the studio. Our recent album Epitaphs was pretty much recorded live with all he instruments played simultaneously. It’s vital for us to be able to play what we record + live you also get the visual side of Zofia the vocalist, all the lights, mood etc.
What are the next steps for Obscure Sphinx?
To promote the fuck out of Epitaphs and then record an even better record.
Any final words?
Come to our show, you will not be disappointed.