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Septic Flesh: The great mass

29/06/11  ||  Altmer

These Greeks have done it again. Their last album, “Communion”, was a hit ‘round these parts (these parts being the Nether Regions). They won me over that time with a powerful mix of blasting, Behemoth-ish death/black, but with a really neat melodic touch sprinkled all over the top. In fact, you can see that, apart from me, most of GD splooged over the album: staffer Euthanatos covered it for the site a while back when it came out, and in this Audio Autopsy the collective staffers of the time decided it was the best record of the month. As you can see, that’s quite some boots to fill.

Now, I do not know what our resident Greek hero Khlysty (now ex-staffer) thinks about this record, as he’s probably been around since their inception, but I am here to impress upon you all that this album is not any less than the previous one (and since I am not Khlysty I haven’t heard what came before “Communion”). What I do know is that Septic Flesh possess one vital ingredient that elevates their style one notch above that of its companions, and this is songwriting. The band manage to crush using their heavy riffs, they manage to use the melodies at exactly the right time, and they manage to keep the groove going and flowing. They just picked up where they stopped last time round and go on. They’re doing exactly the same thing as last time, just as good, as violent, and as epic as ever.

You see, one thing Septic Flesh adds to their mix of Behemoth with melodies, is little neat touches of keyboards that make the music sound a bit cinematic as well as powerful. Most of the album could be the soundtrack to something like the Exorcist, and I mean that in a good way. There are these cool little melodic string-inspired moments that just spice it up a little extra and make the song sound even more grandiose than it already is. It’s like making the perfect pie and then sprinkling extra cherries on top. Just so we won’t forget that there’s always something extra to savour when it comes to these Greeks.

Apart from that, the songs are built from a solid backbone. Thumping guitars and double bass encircle the ears, like wave upon wave of distorted notes of awesome. The guitars groove to a sexcellent degree (seriously, most of the riffs they use are plain gold), the double bass accentuating the faster bits like a charm. They also know when to groove and when to blast, which makes it even more of a treat: there’s no monotony. They rollercoaster you out of your bedroom chair like you’re in a loop-dee-loop.

But they’re also clever bastards. The melodies they use sound a bit Eastern European at times – it’s like they’re infusing it with a special Greek touch just to show who they are. It’s like there are traces of their roots without delving into full blown cheesery or folk metal – it’s a subtle nod to their roots. It’s brilliant. I love it. Even the use of the Prague Philharmonic is clever and subtle – you could easily blow it by overproduction and layering, but they kept the basic ingredients at the forefront and added garnishing like they should.

It certainly all adds to one key thing: they definitely have their inspirations, but they still sound unique. I mentioned Behemoth before – sure, some of the riffs might sound Behemoth-ish, but because of the added melodic spice and production the sound is in a league all its own. Not to detract from the awesome band that is Behemoth, but this just sounds a little bit more epic and less violent than Behemoth does. In any case, you could pick any song from this album, put the needle on the record, and notice it’s them in ten seconds. That’s almost always the hallmark of a great band. Knowing it’s them before the song has even got going. Septic Flesh have that ability and it’s amazing to see a contemporary band that’s got the unique vision to make it work.

Even with the flaws this album has (the clean vocals that crop up every so often sound very nasal and flat), they don’t really kill the vibe. It’s like they managed to work around those quite well without sacrificing honesty or integrity. Clever use of vocal dynamics adds only to the quality. In fact I’ve not often come across a band where I can identify the flaws so easily and not mind them at all. Another hallmark of a great band – the ability to turn a weakness into a strength. Septic Flesh possess it.

Just like the Greek people, the Greek culture, the language, the food – Greek music always produced something that’s worth listening to and savouring. Greece isn’t the biggest haven for metal music, but with Septic Flesh they have an iron in the fire of quality heavy metal music. The Greeks were onto something years ago with their plays, their epic stories, their philosophy, their mythology and unique culture – they have not lost their touch. This is a band their country can be proud of. Should be proud of, even.

8,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Season of Mist
  • Website: www.abstrata.net
  • Band
  • Sotiris V.: clean vocals, guitar, keyboards
  • Spiros “Seth” Antoniou: harsh vocals, bass
  • Christos Antoniou: guitars, orchestrations, samples
  • Fotis Benardo: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. The Vampire from Nazareth
  • 02. A Great Mass Of Death
  • 03. Pyramid God
  • 04. Five-Pointed Star
  • 05. Oceans of Grey
  • 06. The Undead Keep Dreaming
  • 07. Rising
  • 08. Apocalypse
  • 09. Mad Architect
  • 10. Therianthropy