It is about to get pretty sad and melancholic in here. So please, make sure to have some sort of tissue or handkerchief with you. They may come in handy.
No seriously. I’m not kidding. This is pretty sad for two main reasons. First is because the bands has split-up. What can actually be saddest than this!? Second is because Epithets’ The Wellspring is definitely that kind of record that goes under your skin and lets your eyes cry out. I mean it. It holds that deep, uncomfortable feeling of irreversible pain and gloom that brings down also the brightest of souls.
Epithets used to be a 5-piece band from Brisbane, Australia, playing an utterly intense, emotional and sorrowful kind of post punk. I caught up some Brand New reminiscences here, even though the Australian act stays more quiet and pondering on their tunes. Slow melodies and candlelight vocal lines, which are sometimes doubled by few feeble woman singing as well. Guitars, always clean-toned, pictures delightfully moving arpeggios. -helped by some pleasant, artistically-wise, keyboards touches. And the drum stands up the pace gently caressing cymbals and hats. The bass, counter sided by the clean guitars, goes somehow slightly fuzzy. It is clearly audible yet not drowning out all the other pieces.
I may find some flaws in the vocal. Unluckily, it is not always cut-off for the part it is playing. As you can hear in songs such as Decompression, lead singer Nick Smethurst just fails in reaching the right pitch intonation at certain points. Of course that could have -and should have- worked out way better. Still, it can easily be ignored in front of the overall engagement of the album.
The Wellspring finds its life force, as previously said, in soul-touching melodies and crescendo accompaniments. It may be addressed as a post-rock like solution. Even if it is clearly not the main goal of Epithets the one to create something pointing and rising towards a final climax. On the other hand, the compositions rely on a fake illusion of building-up on themselves, while they actually stay, more often than not, on the same disturbing peacefulness. The Automation hits in this. Going along with the verses “It doesn’t need you / It goes on without you / Runs on its own” a misleading crescendo heading to nothing less than a flat, smooth stillness. As it would say you’re just there, floating and wandering as you would really be up to something good. But actually, you are not up to anything. You are not needed. It Runs on its own…
The long instrumental part on The Blight as well as the entirely-instrumental song The Way Home are worth to be highlighted. Especially the second one where the lack of a voice perfectly matches with the lack of hope. Or rather it shines of long, distant yet disappearing hope of being further away from something you’ve been dreaming of your entire existence.
Yet the ultimate “slap in the face” is the closure Disaster Tourism. Best song out of The Wellspring and probably the band best one ever too. This one is just breath-taking. The kind of tune you want to cherish with both your eyes well-closed. The kind of tune you will feel; you will feel it crawling under your skin and entering your (at-this-point) wrecked heart. And, as the final verses come, languidly, despairingly and with a tad of anger tossing out a bunch of words, you know you arrived just there.
“When I said I didn’t care, that isn’t what I meant / The lessons that I’ve learned here I know I haven’t send/ Then for all that you’ve done how could now be right to quit / And I replied, I guess the Wellspring wasn’t real, I must have invented it. “
And that is how it ends. Not only the album but Epithets as a band as well.