Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Album Review; Septicflesh - Titan

Track Listing:

1. War In Heaven
2. Burn
3. Order Of Dracul
4. Prototype
5. Dogma
6. Prometheus
7. Titan
8. Confessions Of A Serial Killer
9. Ground Zero
10. The First Immortal

The return of Septicflesh in 2007 has seen them go from being part the hordes of Atmospheric Death Metal to being the leading band in the Symphonic Death Metal scene. Their 2008 album 'Communion' was simply stunning, as was the follow-up 'The Great Mass' in 2011. Now, their latest album 'Titan' has a lot to live up to.

The grandiose is immediately embraced as the Death Metal stylings of the Greeks mingles once again with the sweeping soundscape of the FILMharmonic Orchestra and Choir of Prague. 'War In Heaven' displays the kind of dense sophistication that was heard on the previous two albums, but with a far more concise compositional style than what was heard on 'The Great Mass', which often stretched ideas out further than needed. Even this first song shows Christos Antoniou's expertise in orchestration, as well as a clear influence from the likes of Wagner. The way his writing makes the orchestra and the guitar interweave so effectively and affectingly, as can be heard on the twisting, morphing second track 'Burn', which features a frankly beautiful break into a strings passage towards the end.

The brilliance of Septicflesh is in their ability to have this depth and extra dimension to their music in the form of the orchestration and other, often unorthodox passages without sacrificing the impact or indeed the heaviness of the music. As far as the bizarre pieces of instrumentation goes, look to the solo string sections found in 'Order Of Dracul'. They add the element of seductive darkness, which helps the musical feel match the subject matter at hand.

'Prototype' sees the use of a children's choir, and it is used brilliantly as, once again the music constantly shifts and keeps the listener on his toes. It's also clear that Septicflesh do not feel they have anything to prove to the Metal World; their compositions are clearly not subject to compromise, and as such sound pure and undiluted. Artistic.

Madness is portrayed well in the introverted darkness of 'Dogma', which paints a bare and frightening image of religious indoctrination as a brainwashing and damaging power in the world. There's almost a melancholy edge towards the end of the song, making this a poignant and thought-provoking song. 'Prometheus' is one of the longer songs on the album, at six and a half minutes in length. It's also one of the most epic.

In the context of Septicflesh's music, there is much more justice done to the orchestra than in the music of more obvious bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation, where all the orchestral elements ever do is follow the guitar lines note-by-note, almost like a chorus effect for the guitar. This has been a source of undue credit given for some time now in the Metal World. Especially when there are bands such as Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse or even Dimmu Borgir using orchestration with a far more forward-thinking attitude. It is this, truly exceptional dedication to their craft that makes this writer think that it is this band that should be enjoying the glory that seems to be reserved for the often female-fronted Symphonic Gothic Power Metal fraternity. Listen to the song 'Titan' and you may understand what I mean.

In 2013, the aforementioned Fleshgod Apocalypse released the masterful 'Labyrinth' album, making a chaotic and frankly excellent swoop for the Symphonic Death Metal limelight. Now, in 2014, Septicflesh have returned and shown with almost frightening efficiency that they are far from abdicating their well-earned throne. Titan is a hugely impressive album that has so many sides and angles upon which to view it, that it keeps you listening to it again and again, just to journey through the depths of each composition with feeling and fascination. Sterling work from one of Greece's, and indeed Europe's finest bands.

Rating: 10/10

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