Some years are more memorable than others, and 2008 was one of them. Many life changes occurred, some of which still affect me to this day. And believe it or not, one of them was the release of a “septic flesh“album. It was not the group’s first or second album, but their seventh album, “Communion”.
septic flesh (so septic flesh) emerged in the early 90s from their birthplace of Athens, Greece. Their music continually evolved on a death metal spectrum – over time adding elements of doom, black and even industrial metal to their formula – until their demise in 2003.
Five years later, “Communion” appeared. As if a meteor erupted from the heavens, the group returned under a new (rather) name: septic flesh. Spiros Antoniou revived the rituals of his old band while reworking certain aspects, such as adding heavy symphonic instrumentation instead of industrial ones.
The result was a bombastic work of death metal and symphonic orientalism, which to some may seem like nightmare fuel. On the contrary, for me, new music has helped inspire some of the creative work I’ve undertaken since, and I’m probably not the only one.
“Communion” and the anthology it spawned feature brilliant symphonic death metal, but one constant shines through: the atmospheres – audible miasmas that conjure up moving images of jinns and afrits amid rock-sized dunes. a mountain, or domes and onion-shaped walls secreting scorching vapors. baths and harems.
Symphonic metal bands can often veer off course, pushing certain concepts to excessive degrees, musically and lyrically. Until now, septic flesh let their listeners suspend their disbelief, and their new album, “Modern Primitive,” is no exception.
The recording is a delicate balance between symphonies, death metal and the wide range of vocal performances by Spiros Antoniou and his female counterparts, as evidenced by one of the singles, A desert throne.
Came out alongside neuromancer and Hierophant, A desert throne stands as one of the strongest tracks on the album, filled with engaging hooks and atmosphere.
That’s not to say the rest of the album doesn’t match the intensity of its singles, but “Modern Primitive” definitely warrants multiple listens to fully process.
This was also true for its predecessors. The atmosphere builds with each listen, as subtle hooks become more apparent after sifting through the heavier moves. Listen, for example, to the dramatic interplay of grunts, clean vocals and brass on neuromancer.
“Modern Primitive” is not a revolution, but a continuation of what Spiros “Seth” Antoniou and his band presented with the introduction of “Communion”. The latter is still at the top of the charts for many fans and critics. Is “Modern Primitive” the album to dethrone “Communion?”
“Codex Omega” came very close a few years ago, and while the jury is still out, “Modern Primitive” has a fighting chance.