Written by: AB on 16/10/2008 00:53:28

Your average death metal band (or any other heavy metal band for that matter) normally consists of two axe wielders, a bass player, drummer and a vocalist. This can from time to time be supplemented with other interesting stuff; a keyboard guy is a prime example, but 'ordinary' death metal has been supported by such exotic instruments as the Arabic arghul (Nile), didgeridoo (Hate Eternal), samples of noise, sounds and film clips (pretty much every death metal band that wants a 'creepy' intro to a song. Mortician are really good at overdoing this). Well, Septicflesh (formerly known as Septic Flesh, though now Septicflesh for no apparent reason) has all the normal death metal bells and whistles, as well as a keyboard player and a guest guitarist with a solo - And an 80 man big, full classical orchestra. Oh, and a 32 man big choir, let's not forget about those guys. Sadly no didgeridoo though.

As can be gathered, Septicflesh's newest release (which was, actually, released all the way back in March, but has in some way managed to sneak under my radar... Sorry) is filled to the brim with epic and orchestral death metal (quite the surprise considering the more than 100 guys doing orchestral work on the album huh), and it really is quite brilliant. Drawing inspiration from ancient mythology, the albums lyrical themes revolve around the existence and communication with inhuman entities, and the spectacular, dark soundscapes really capture the idea of Man interacting with ancient demons and angels through mysterious rites and rituals.

What Septicflesh does so very, very well, is mixing the hard, heavy and brutal death metal with the grandiose orchestral compositions with an awe-inspiring ease. It is very strange at first to listen to the blistering, but already in itself quite epic death metal, seamlessly incorporating a great many epic sounding string instruments, bellowing horns, weird gongs and so on. Or the choir! The choir really provides backing vocals, but not in the sense of "well since our 2nd guitarist is just slacking here he can just as well scream a little" sadly seen in so many extreme metal bands of today (different vocals are awesome, just get a guy who's good at it to do it! Ahem...). Like the string instruments in particular, they really add to the grand feeling, taking the magnificent death metal to new heights. That's not all though, the choir really helps in setting the mood of every single song, from scary/creepy singing, to chanting, to beautiful back ground singing...

Let's not forget the death metal though! This is the other part of the brilliance in the midst of all the epicness of the orchestra and choir. Evil and overwhelming, the riffs really are superb, the drums pound out round after round of artillery that will get those head banging muscles of yours itching for some action. The songs are changing between almost melodic parts with nearly dreamy riffs and leads to the more aggressive, march-till-death-ish sonic attacks. The solos are few - not that they are that needed with 82 guys trying to get your attention with their string instruments - but the ones that are to be found, fit the songs perfectly, not overly fast or "argh!-a-hundred-notes-in-your-face-in-two-seconds!"-like, but rather brilliantly executed, disclosing the super technical level here. The vocals range from abysmal roars more than growls, to clean singing, to reciting in Greek (rather ominous, but as everything else, strangely fitting the music). Maybe the roars have been treated to too much effect in production, and I feel that the clean singing has too big a part in the song "Sunlight Moonlight", but these are minor flaws. The Septic Boys both assault at full speed, again mixing the choir in to great effect - listen to the awesome title track for example - and take all the speed out of a song, creating music that drags itself along in all its menacing grandeur, as well as intricate, slow rhythms that confuse and puzzle, before charging at you with the full power of a super death metal band and their 112 henchmen.

All in all, this is an album that wants and does it all. Without being ridiculously pompous, Septicflesh effortlessly (so it seems and sounds at least) manage to make a absolute devastating death metal album that rips Nile a new asshole with pure epicness. Listen, and listen again, and be intrigued, drawn and then lost in the sound of deep, mythical evil.

Download: Lovecraft's Death, Communion, Babel's Gate, Persepolis
For The Fans Of: early-to-mid era Nile
Listen: MySpace

Release date: 25.03.2008
Season of Mist

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