Thursday 26 October 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Septicflesh - "Codex Omega"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 01/09/2017
Label: Season of Mist

Septicflesh mostly sticks to what it is strongest at, and where its legend has been built: in beautifully composed, wicked death metal.

“Codex Omega” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Dante's Inferno
2. 3rd Testament               
3. Portrait of a Headless Man
4. Martyr              
5. Enemy of Truth
6. Dark Art           
7. Our Church below the Sea
8. Faceless Queen
9. The Gospels of Fear
10. Trinity

The Review:

Hailing from Athens, Greece, Septicflesh has carved one of the most distinctive paths in extreme metal. Ten albums into its career, the quartet creates a brand of symphonic death metal that is rare for its style as it is in terms of longevity. "Codex Omega" marks the first album for the group since 2014, when "Titan" beguiled audiences. However, Septicflesh has a catalog of many triumphs, including 2011's "The Great Mass" and 2008's "Communion" as well as many more.

While symphonic death metal is admittedly not as populous as its cousin, symphonic black metal, Septicflesh is, virtually without question, regarded as the best group in the subgenre. Since its formation in 1990, the Greek ensemble has created some of the best music in the scene. Even with a four-year layoff following a breakup and reunion in the early 2000s, Septicflesh has managed not to lose its stride and instead put out some of the most respected music available. "Communion" is still today regarded as a touchstone moment for symphonic death metal. So, when "Codex Omega" was announced, hopes for the group could not have been higher.

Septicflesh begins with "Dante's Inferno." The strings and woodwind create the space here, only to make way for Christos Antoniou's explosive guitar. If you have heard the band before, its ascent on this song will feel familiar. Kerim Lechner's epic drumming surges through the opener, then into "Third Testament." There is nearly a scientific preciseness to it; chords unleash Hell as the orchestra meets them like an infernal chorus all their own. Later, songs like "Dark Art" and "Our Church" hew a similar path. Its signifiers -- lumbering riffs, diabolical vocals and a mammoth sound made larger by the overall arrangement – are not unique for the veteran band. Its members have the reputation they have for outstanding musical performances, and the opening of "Codex Omega" seems poised to do that legacy justice.

"Martyr" begins with a folkloric touch, until the more substantial guitar attack snakes in. With lyrics that convey themes of faith and intolerance ("A strife has grown between faith and wisdom/You choose to stand for the exalted ego/Your creation, a creation maimed/Blame the vultures for their vile way"), Septicflesh is also dedicated to powerful songwriting. The beauty of such a consistent and consummately great band like Septicflesh is you know what you're getting with their albums. The interchange between Christos Antoniou's guttural vocal and Sotiris Vayenas' clean vocals is one of those better features. On a song such as " Portrait of a Headless Man," the duo alternate with aesthetics that share a story ("I am a man with strong regrets/I followed great deceivers/Believe in headless leaders/They played their game, true sons of Cain/But I was a hopeless dreamer/With my head deep in the clouds") and also create an air of menace, even remorse. Their chemistry reminds you why Septicflesh is so loved among death metal devotees.

Septicflesh has, at different points, mixed gothic and black metal influences into its symphonic death metal formula. Those elements are evident in cuts like "The Gospels of Fear." However, Septicflesh mostly sticks to what it is strongest at, and where its legend has been built: in beautifully composed, wicked death metal.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook