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Live Inferno - 90%

Livingwave17, July 31st, 2020

It wouldn’t be the first time a metal act brings a symphonic orchestra at a live show. Considering the extent to which Septicflesh makes use of symphonic elements in their music, it was just a matter of time until they took this next step. But I would not have expected it to be this big. The Greek titans of symphonic death metal put together an ensemble of over 100 musicians to join them on stage for what has become “Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX”. That is a full orchestra and 2 choirs backing the roaring performance of our heroes, in a setlist containing songs from their last four albums. Septicflesh are no strangers to creating impressive shows, so with such a massive production, they just might be breaking a few world records.

The concert at hand took place at the Metropolitan Theater in Mexico City, in February 2019. Guitarist and composer Christos Antoniou has been arranging orchestra for the band at least since 2008’s Communion if I’m not mistaken, and the studio records feature actual recorded instruments for this component of the music. Orchestras in metal are usually focused on consistent string sections to give an epic feel, but the orchestras for Septicflesh always stood out from the crowd. There is consistent use of wind instruments and percussion, and the overall tone of biblical tragedy in the band’s sound is highly reliant on the orchestra. This is definitely a unique identifying feature for this veteran act and it is all delivered live on camera in the present release. Completing the symphonic side are the two choirs, the “Enharmonía Vocalis Choir” and the “National University of Mexico Children’s and Youth Choir”. I found the appearances of the children’s choir particularly striking.

The mega-production with the orchestra is essential for lifting this show to epic proportions, but the Greeks have more tricks up their sleeve. The band performance doesn’t slouch either. I must give a massive shout out to Krimh behind the kit. His style is scarily precise, and especially with such a huge ensemble depending on him for timing, I am somewhat floored by his incredibly balanced delivery. Guitar work by Christos and session member Psychon is on point and heard clearly through the whole show. I must applaud how well all the instruments were balanced in the mix considering the scale of this production. And frontman Spiros Antoniou is quite the presence on stage as always, with a ferocious growl and an admirable skill at hyping up the crowd. The band members also keep an imposing stage persona that you can’t help but admire. And this applies especially to Sotiris Vayenas. He has been bailing out extensively on live shows since Psychon stepped in, but his role is now split in two, with Psychon handling the guitar parts and Sotiris appearing on stage solely for the vocal parts. Some of my favorites are in “The Vampire of Nazareth”, “Persepolis” and “Dark Art”.

I have just two gripes with this release. First of all, the filming falls a little flat. There’s a shortage of camera dynamics, and most of all very few close ups (Krimh’s face doesn’t show once in the entire runtime). For a band with such a strong visual component, this does somewhat compromise the experience. Second of all, Spiros tends to compromise his performance at the expense of crowd interaction. The interactive aspect of the show is great, but there are lyrics being skipped or messed up all the way through. Luckily, the instrumental parts are very precise, and the songs stay on track throughout the entire show.

“Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX” is an accurately tiled inferno on stage, released July 31st on Season of Mist, and since we’re all craving a good live show, it’s the perfect pass-time for your quarantine free time.

Enjoy!

Originally written for The Metal Observer