It’s all Greek to me…
Codex Omega is the 10th album from symphonic slayers Septicflesh, released via Season of Mist on September 1, 2017. Paul Castles picks up the baton.
Codex Omega is album number 10 from Septicflesh and those who take their metal medicine sweetened with symphonic splendour will find this to their liking. Their debut album Mystic Places of Dawn came out in 1994 since when the Greeks have had more than two decades to master and manipulate their sound into the stomping beast that we’re familiar with today.
There was a five-year hiatus during which fans wondered if Septicflesh had locked their violins away in the wardrobe for good, but this was broken in 2008 by the release of Communion. Since then they have kept busy recording and touring regularly. I had the pleasure of seeing them on their last dual headline tour alongside Fleshgod Apocalypse.
Much like Paradise Lost and Cradle of Filth, Septicflesh have always been able to connect with followers of death and black metal along with the goth crowd, all of whom have fallen for their spellbinding anthems. Few acts are able to align classical compositions alongside more traditional metal charges as successfully as Septicflesh. Guitarist Christos Antoniou has always been at the heart of their sound having excelled in his academic studies of classical composition. Spiros Antoniou has a grizzly bear of a voice but one, you suspect, with a warm heart..
As its title suggests expect, ‘Dante’s Inferno’ kicks Codex Omega off in combustible fashion. It also opens the page onto the apocalyptic vision that the album is built around. Fleeting orchestral overtures help keep the early flames in check, but as opening songs go ‘Dante’s Inferno’ certainly leaves you wanting more. Blastbeats gun down anything that moves at the start of ‘3rd Testament (Codex Omega)’ while atmospheric levels are heightened on ‘Portrait’ by the female choral voices, the song ending amidst a swordfight of violins.
While certainly not the only metal act to incorporate symphonic elements into their sound, Septicflesh have always been able to do so without falling into a ‘poppy’ trap. ‘Enemy’ has a real death-march feel both in tempo and delivery. ‘Dark Art’ is another doomladen offering but this time includes some clean singing, which at times sound strangely Bowiesque.
The combination of clean vocals and death growls helps define ‘Faceless’ as one of the album’s standout tracks. The rhythms pulse with a sense of hunger and energy but when the clean contours assert, the track takes on an altogether more emotive feel.
At times Septicflesh are able to write songs of epic biblical proportions and in many ways their grandeur, visually as well as aurally, is more suited to concert halls rather than a back street pub or club. Alongside fellow countrymen Rotting Christ, Septicflesh have flown the flag for Greek metal for a quarter of a century.
They close their tenth album with ‘Trinity’ which begins with cleanly picked chords reminiscent of Ghost and goes on to build slowly into another sea-parter, tight riff work holding its own against a measured drum beat. As with so much of their material the song climaxes with choral harmonies that you could slot into a Harry Potter soundtrack. Magical!
- Dante’s Inferno
- 3rd Testament (Codex Omega)
- Portrait of a Headless Man
- Enemy of Truth
- Dark Art
- Our Church, Below the Sea
- Faceless Queen
- The Gospels of Fear