This is the debut EP from Italian band Oneiric Celephaïs. It is quite an eclectic piece. Ostensibly “The Obscure Sybil” is a work of dingy death metal. In the background there is a riff akin to an Ephel Duath world of withering contempt. As “Aeon Death” progresses, the technical element comes to the fore and we have a rampant beast on our hands. And then it quietens down but in the style I am starting to get used to, explosion and expressive death metal combine to signal the end of the intrigue. I rather hoped that the subsequent two tracks might illuminate me. “From Beyond” may not have provided illumination but it does provide excitement as Oneiric Celephaïs indulge in fast, tight and twisty technicality. We’re always reminded of the death metal but unlike some of this genre, it’s not in any way rancid. The guitarist provides little ditties. The vocalist growls. “From Beyond”” thunders on breathlessly and technically. Faster and faster it gets. And it stops. Shame. I was enjoying that. Hoping for more bursts of technicality, I tuned into “Vǫluspá”. To my surprise, the start is acoustically symphonic with an angelic female voice forming a heavenly choir. This is stunning, and I have to say, unexpected. It’s like listening to a different band. Suddenly we have a beautiful, haunting, lush scene. Ah, the world returns to normal after a short build-up to thunderous instrumentals, rapid-fire drumming, growls and a maelstrom of technical tunes from the guitarist. As before, it is pulsating and driving. I’ve no idea what relation this has to that haunting start. A more conventional guitar solo interrupts the technical flow. About 9 minutes in, the mood softens and we return to a tranquil scene before switching to some splendid technical bombast, and finally messing up our brain with technical, deathly and acoustic vibes.

Oneiric Celephaïs clearly had something in mind when they put this together but I’m at a loss to say what it is. I did receive some extravagant blurb with this, which talks hyperbolically about many things including infinite crossroads and a formidable chaos of numberless conclusions. Although there was no discernible pattern to this 26 minute collection, I really liked the surging energy of this album which contrasted sharply with the fleeting dreamscape of “Vǫluspá”. It’s too simplistic to brush “The Obscure Sybil” off as technical death metal. Obscure it is, but it’s also very interesting. I appreciated the fact that it put my brain into gear. I look forward to the next enigma from Oneiric Celephaïs.

(8/10 Andrew Doherty)