Vera : Already since the nineties, Septicflesh is - together with Rotting Christ and Nightfall - the upper class of what can be found of adventurous Greek extreme metal on the Hellenic peninsula. It is true, in 2003 they left the scene for a while, but this era of contemplation only inspired them to greater deeds. A convicting proof of this was the comeback album 'Communion' in 2008. If we would write for a sport magazine, we should say that this four-piece gets more and more improved in his own discipline. This upward tendency continues on 'The Great Mass': the newest result of four exceptional talents.
'Communion' marked a turning point in the history of Septicflesh. Not only it heralded the new beginning, but for the first time studio samples were replaced by a real orchestra. On 'The Great Mass' Septicflesh works together with the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Prague again, plus a multi-headed choir on top of it. Guitarist Christos Antoniou has finished his classical studies with high honours and distinction and this is reflected in impressive orchestral arrangements. Thus the multilayered blend of death, black and gothic metal comes even closer to perfection. Every band member is creative on more than one level. Harsh vocalist/bassist Seth has been internationally famed for his artwork, guitarist Sotiris puts his mark on the music by captivating clean vocals and is also the creator of the deep-draught lyrics, while guitarist Christos happens to be responsible for the richness of orchestral arrangements. Drummer Fotis asserts himself during the writing process as well. This teamwork means that the whole creation is in the bands' hands.
One may consider 'The Great Mass' as an album of a band who is able to put more experience and professionalism in their new album again. The orchestra and the band are - so to speak - a true unity; both music genres - classical and raucous metal - merge in each other during the multilayered songs. Thus the album happens to be a challenge for the listener and it only reveals its secrets after many listens. The journey starts with 'The Vampire From Nazareth'. Esoteric soprano chants lead us into dark catacombs where the refinement of symphonies and the roughness of vocals and merciless riffs result in an overwhelming amalgamation. In 'A Great Mass Of Death' they go on flogging and ploughing; rolling death metal fury is regaled with pontifical choirs and some clean male and female vocals. Sometimes the Therion-approach is not that far, the juiciness of Sotiris' clean vocals reminded me of them more than once. The walking pace, thumping sounds have a kind of mechanical feel from time to time, just listen to 'Pyramid God'. Classic music and extreme metal are united in a fine blend during 'Five-Pointed Star' and 'Oceans Of Grey', while the latter one surprises us with any high pitched female opera chants. Fluttering guitars prevail in 'The Undead Keep Dreaming', a song in which the ruffling, rolling drum technique of Fotis brings the whole thing to a higher level. Yet one may perceive any catchiness from then on. Septicflesh never denies that they are rooted in the nineties. I was moved by the catchiness of 'Rising' (very melodic leads and fetching clean vocals) and 'Apocalypse'. On the other side of the spectrum we have 'Mad Architect'. Orchestration is dramatic and apocalyptic here, combined with ultra tight guitars. To round off 'Therianthropy' takes us on another fetching trip with conjuring clean vocals and graceful guitar skills.
They have done it: Septicflesh has created a piece of art that surpasses 'Communion'. The long term cooperation with producer Fredrik Nordström has been replaced by a new bond with studio wizard Peter Tägtgren, but it only resulted in an even more crystallized sound. This is an essential album for every extreme metal aficionado!