Septicflesh is a massively important band for me as it’s one of the ones that actually got me started on this journey into the world of extreme metal. With their blend of very evocative symphonics and hard-hitting extreme metal elements they’re the perfect combination of art and brutality. After the band has been restarted in 2007 the Greeks have been a massive force and now unveil their fifth album since their rebirth – “Modern Primitive.” In total, it’s their 11th, but I think we’ve collectively decided not to count those first six as the band doesn’t seem to include those albums in their live sets either.
The secret behind Septicflesh’s complexity and orchestrations is the band’s guitarist, Christos Antoniou, who attained a master’s degree in concert music. His expertise in classical music is apparent immediately even to those unaware of the band as the album opens with “The Collector.” The soft and inviting beginning feels Mediterranean with tinges of darkness dancing around in the sound before the guitars and drums join in and form the typical Septicflesh sound. However, they settle down again soon and the softness is joined by a hushed growl. There’s no real chorus on the song, but the piece alternates alluringly between the harsher and the softer, forming an interesting story, which reaches its peak towards the end of the track.
Onto the album’s first single, “Hierophant” – and I have slightly mixed feelings about this one as the cleans, which I believe are sung by Sotiris Vayenas (also the band’s lyricist), are just a bit too nasal, although I have to admit they’re also very catchy. The rest is, however, extremely polished and the juxtaposition of the strings in the orchestrations and the merciless drumming by Krimh is an absolute marvel to listen to. I’ve not spoken yet about the main (harsh) vocals and “Self Eater” is a good example of Spiros Antoniou once again confirming he has little competition in this style of growls; a special mention here has to go to the way he manages to transform his typical deep growl into a powerful, god-like shout, “…the crown of your destiny.” An absolutely brilliant touch.
The eerie beginning of “Coming Storm” is elegant as well as haunting and chaotic. The pounding drumming is stopped rather surprisingly by a high and ethereal female voice, which is again abruptly cut off by death metal thus truly creating a beauty-and-the-beast effect. Septicflesh actually steps a bit towards Carach Angren with this song as it’s the symphonics that continuously add the feeling of dread the Dutch band is well-known for. A storm is coming… And come it does. Firstly, a choir introduces “A Desert Throne,” which features a slightly more melodic feel than we’re used to from the band, yet this song is also a beast that talks about the extinction of humanity – the album’s theme seems to revolve around the human species and all its mistakes, which will inevitably lead to “a desert throne.”
“Modern Primitives” continues with that idea, exemplifying the absurdity of our modern society and our often primitive behaviour. Funnily, Antoniou’s vocals actually reminded me for a second of Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan on this song – a band which is notorious for their misanthropic imagery and lyricism. The track itself is just a bit lighter than the rest, perhaps as if to be a sort of a dirge for humanity – an aura of melancholy is apparent in this track despite still being very much a Septicflesh song. “Psychohistory” has a rather violent symphonic beginning and is in general quite the contradiction to its predecessor on the album; the song feels massive and like everything on the album the production is exquisite as it really should be when you’re playing anything with this much symphonics in it.
As “A Dreadful Muse” plays and the realisation sets in that the album is nearly over there’s a feeling of satisfaction as well as a desire for more. The album is rather short at barely 40 minutes and I do wish there was a longer song, something that develops more slowly perhaps, although that’s not something the Greeks have ever done. On the other hand, that could run the risk of the album being stretched out too long and lose quality, which has been a slight problem in previous releases as they had problems keeping up the level of quality in the second halves usually.
It takes a lot of listens to be able to write about this album, yet I still feel like there’s so much more I could say and so many more details I’ve missed that I’ll be very happy to discover later on and throughout the year as the album gets more spins. “Modern Primitive” is a profoundly elegant and charming album, which is at the same time extremely brutal in its death metal, yet also soft when it needs to be. It’s a beautiful example of the potential beauty in modern metal and firmly demonstrates that Septicflesh have mastered the art of symphonic death metal.
Release Date: 20th May 2022
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
1. The Collector
3. Self Eater
5. Coming Storm
6. A Desert Throne
7. Modern Primitives
9. A Dreadful Muse