It’s cliche to designate a heavy metal album as “epic.” The raging guitar riffs, thunderous bass, thrashing drums, and high pitch screams all create a sound that’s larger-than-life both sonically and thematically, and this go-big-or-go-home mentality was present at the genre’s inception with Black Sabbath and has continued into modernity with bands like Ghost and Avatar because let’s be honest here, if a metal band isn’t “epic” in some capacity or another then it isn’t worth its salt.
With that said, “epic” is the only proper descriptor that encapsulates my feelings on the wonderfully named symphonic death metal band Septicflesh. Originating from Athens, Greece in the mid 1990s and currently consisting of Seth Siro Anton on bass/vocals, Christos Antonou playing the guitar and writing the orchestrals, Sotiris Anunnaki V providing an additional guitar and clean vocals, and Kerim “Krimh” Lechner on drums, Septicflesh is one of the very few metal bands that can gracefully blend the rough brutality of death metal with the awe-inspiring sound of a sweeping orchestra, and this dark yet beautacious sound is ever-so present on Septicflesh’s 10th and most recent studio album ‘Codex Omega’ which is a more than worthy follow-up to their 2014 LP ‘Titan’ due to it being stunning in its scale and punishing in its ferocity.
Opening track Dante’s Inferno launches ‘Codex Omega’ on a sinister note that slowly builds and builds before Anton, Antonou, and V inevitably kick open the figurative gates of hell by unleashing an onslaught of heavy riffage that thoroughly pounds the listener into submission. The noteworthy guitar work amplifies both Anton’s unhinged guttural vocals and Lechner’s lightning strike precision behind the drumkit in order to create a hellish atmosphere that is befitting for a track detailing a man’s adventure inside a hell gate. The nightmaric undercurrent provided by the aggressive death metal elements works cohesively with the haunting orchestrals (which were performed by the Filmharmonic Orchestra of Prague) to the point where the operatic singing and stringed instrumentals imbue Dante’s Inferno with melodic and tragic intonations conveying a sense of pity for the poor morsels who are now stranded in hell for indulging in humanity’s gravest vices and sins.
It’s really kick ass.
However, where ‘Codex Omega’ truly shines is when the music, tone, and themes become more personal and confrontational, and this viscerality is readily evident on the fifth track Enemy of Truth. Lechner’s steady drumline, the pulse pounding power of the brass, and the gravitas of the female operatic singer intensify Anton’s roaring of the words “Fight the enemy of truth!” which serves as a war cry that pumps-up and rouses the listener to the point they feel as if they were in an army enthusiastically marching head first into a gruesome battle after a pep talk. Truly, The Enemy of Truth energizes the listener with a stirring intensity that is unmatched by any other track on ‘Codex Omega’.
Admittedly, Enemy of Truth is just the engaging build-up that fully pays off on the following track Dark Art. Even more so than any other track on ‘Codex Omega’, Dark Art’s pure and unforgiving guitar work, bass, drums, and vocals hammer the listener like a battering ram in the way the track conveys scenes of utter destruction where life is being lost on a gargantuan scale, and Dark Art’s chaotic death metal assault is further enhanced by an incredible orchestra that enables the listener to reflect on the carnage unfolding around them. The track’s greatest moments are when the sweeping brass, wind, and operatic sections gently pull the listener back from the visceral up-close and-personal experience provided by the death metal elements so they can gape in awe at the incredible size and scope of the war zone surrounding them.
By its end, ‘Codex Omega’ is an unrelentingly brutal album with moments of sincere beauty that will impact the listener to their emotional core. Septicflesh’s use of a backing orchestra perfectly complements their brand of crushing death metal and displays the band’s incredibly unique aptitude in magnifying beauty that is concealed behind life’s ugly exterior, and ‘Codex Omega’ highlights how all these disparate elements have allowed Septicflesh to attain a level of musical and thematic depth far surpassing that of most extreme metal bands.
Simply put: they’re epic.
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Pre order the album here!