REVIEW: SEPTIC FLESH – “Codex Omega”
Since their debut in 1990, hiatus in 2003 and their 2008 Communion reincarnation, Septic Flesh give us their tenth studio album, ‘Codex Omega’. A painting consisting of death metal and orchestral color, depicting an apocalyptic vision like none other by a band who is known for making full use of a unique and impressive musical palette. The album artwork itself is done by the band and makes you want to buy the record before you’ve heard it.
Based off the bar they set in 2014 with the release of ‘Titan’, which not only had a well-balanced amalgamation of melody and dark element, it also included some splendid lyrical content as well. As the band explore sound and composition possibilities like never before, it should also be noted that their drummer Kerim Lechner released Krimhera the same year, thus setting the bar even higher. It really makes one wonder what this album brings to the table.
The album opens trenching along a biblical theme with “Dante’s Inferno” and “Third Testament (Codex Omega)” with some acoustic guitar and background orchestra. The fact that they do not give away what direction they’re going to take for the first few seconds brings about some suspense. This, however, is not long enough to become monotonous as the album plunges into the depths of classic Septic Flesh dark matter with blistering drumming, ripping guitars, guttural vocals, and some heavy orchestration. A lot of bands use symphony in their metal but few use it effectively. Septic Flesh effectively use deep orchestra instruments like horns and tuba’s and mix it with such finesse into death metal.
The record takes a more philosophical turn with songs like “Martyr” and “Enemy of Truth”, allowing more space for lyrical content and orchestration yet at the same time keeping the massive attack of drums and Sotiris’ and Christos’ dueling guitars without becoming too over-the-top. “Portrait of a Headless Man” is definitely my favorite song in the album and it displays the craftsmanship of the band and Siro’s uncanny death growls. If the apocalypse had to begin this very moment, then this is the song I would want blasting out of the skies. Just before you think you’ve heard it all, don’t go into repeat mode with those songs just yet, because it takes a third turn into a melodious dream from the middle of “Dark Art” and now includes Vayenas’ clean vocals, keeping in mind that all this is happening in perfect harmony while you savor a plethora of instruments. This journey of melodic passages and dark death metal goes on through portions of “Faceless Queen” “Our Church, Below the Sea” and “The Gospel of Fear” before coming to close with the final song “Trinity” which I cannot describe, and you will simply have to buy this album and listen to it yourself to understand why.
Septic Flesh have outdone themselves with this album. The song structure and writing is sheer musical genius and it is amazing to listen to the harmonized and clinically balanced musical chairs between the drums, guitars, and the orchestra. At any stage of the album in any song, one will rip through with speed, one will play seconds and one will hold it all together and managing all this with this amount of orchestration without making the song a blaze of noise commends me to take a bow. I have to acknowledge that the production quality too is in fact better than its predecessor. So there you have it, faster, better, heavier, and more massive in all aspects. I might have set the bar high, but they blew it out of the park!
‘Codex Omega’ marks the beginning of the pinnacle and clear witness of the Greek visionaries having come to maturity and expert craftsmanship in every sense. This album will make the toppers list for 2017, and will remain an undisputed landmark record in the genre, probably for all time.