Oneiric Celephaïs, if you’re unsure, are a death metal band from Florence, Italy. They play in a highly technical style on extended range guitars, with elements of symphonic and prog death metal and a healthy spoonful of melody too. The unusual band name refers to H. P. Lovecraft and to dreaming – and you hear this in their atmospheric music that draws the listener in and holds them captive for the entirety of this EP. It’s astonishing to consider that this is only OC’s debut release, considering the well-written, memorable track listing that serves as an incredible statement of intent for things to come.
‘The Eldritch Dark’, a one-minute introductory song, sets the tone with dissonant guitars and tricky drum fills that hint nicely at what is yet to come. ‘The Aeon of Death’, which runs for seven and a half minutes, is full of blast beats, time changes and guitar (and bass) wizardry. Each note is crisp and audible in the mix, which is no mean production feat considering the astoundingly precise amount of notes and ‘stuff going on’ in the music. ‘From Beyond’ carries on, with an opening riff akin to vintage At the Gates, had they been a more technically minded band. Its shorter runtime makes it a much more direct and hard-hitting than the other two ‘proper songs’ on the EP, and it noticeably contains some of the heaviest moments of the entire release as the song progresses.
‘Vǫluspá’ rounds off ‘The Obscure Sibyl’ in truly epic manner. With its beautiful clean guitar passages, haunting choral sections and soaring melodies coexisting amongst intense, crushing rhythms, shifts in key and pounding drums, its various movements and impressive ambition end up seeing it play like a symphony. Compositionally, it’s just remarkable. Possibly most praiseworthy of all is that it clearly sets out on a mission to provide a memorable and catchy musical experience, rather than falling in the easy prog-metal trap of maximising technicality and instrumental prowess (at the expense of something that is, at the end of the day, more enjoyable to listen to).
Throughout the EP, the bass guitar work from Francesco Mazzino Pietro Fambrini shines as he blazes across the whole fretboard to dazzling effect. The guitar partnership at the top is formidable, full of harmony and well-chosen notes, seeing sweeps and arpeggios brought out seemingly without effort. One point of criticism for this release is that the drum sound doesn’t entirely do the songs justice, in my view, sounding a little weak in places. Realistically, this is nitpicking – it takes little away from this piece of work. The deep, guttural vocals are consistent and fit the music like a glove. More awe-inspiring still is to consider that the frontman doubles up on guitar duties as well!
To sum up, it’s well worth spending half an hour of your time with this band if technical death metal is for you, or you’re into anyone like Beyond Creation, Obscura, Fleshgod Apocalypse or indeed Death. It comes as no surprise to hear that Oneiric Celephaïs’ efforts have caught the attention of Gore House Productions, who release ‘The Obscure Sibyl’ today. I feel there’s little more I can say. If technical death metal is your thing – you have to listen to this EP.