01. The Collector 02. Hierophant 03. Self Eater 04. Neuromancer 05. Coming Storm 06. A Desert Throne 07. Modern Primitives 08. Psychohistory 09. A Dreadful Muse
SEPTICFLESH have never been a band that suffers from a lack of ambition. Even as far back as the Greeks' 1994 debut "Mystic Places of Dawn", their desire to sound more intrinsically impressive than their underground peers was obvious. But since the band's 2006 reunion, a slight change of name (from Septic Flesh to SEPTICFLESH, since you ask) and the huge reputational boost that followed the release of 2008's "Communion", they have increasingly sounded like a band with real mainstream crossover potential, albeit with all the usual blasphemous and subversive caveats.
When SEPTICFLESH collaborated with an orchestra in Mexico City in 2019, as captured on 2020's "Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX" live set, it felt more like a logical next step than any kind of leap of faith. In keeping with the bombastic and multi-layered approach that made that performance so memorable, "Modern Primitive" is even more extravagant and dynamic than 2017's "Codex Omega". Although firmly rooted in their own unique strain of blackened death metal, there are many sublime orchestral flourishes and other esoteric diversions, each one adding a fresh layer of excitement and intensity to the expected, technically masterful assault.
None of that would matter if the songs were rubbish, of course. SEPTICFLESH have long since outgrown the instinct to artlessly batter people with speed and aggression, and while there is still plenty of speed and aggression available, these songs speak of a much more sophisticated approach and loftier artistic goals. "The Collector" establishes the levels of power and pomp on offer, with Spiros Antoniou's authoritative roar scorching across a pristine deluge of Hellenic fire 'n' fury, while "Hierophant" is a chameleonic gargoyle of a song, with catchiness and abstruse viciousness in equal amounts. Elsewhere, "Self Eater" and "A Desert Throne" execute inspired amalgams of thunderous symphonic extremity and opaque, progressive textures, while the (nearly) title track has all the brooding charisma of the finest '80s gothic rock but welded to a colossal outpouring of orchestral opulence and strident, deathly riffing. Similarly, "Psychohistory" is a dizzying avalanche of riffs, embellished with urgent, stabbing strings and hellish horns. As fans of this band have come to expect, the whole thing sounds vast and overblown, but with such sharp, incisive edges and so many smart musical ideas, even the densest, maxed-out moments resound with finesse and fine details.
Still one of the most fearlessly ambitious metal bands around, SEPTICFLESH have combined the modern, the primitive and the otherworldly, and polished it to a blinding sheen. A magnificent way to be soundly steamrollered, all told.