Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

A great mix of melody and atmosphere - 90%

dipym666, October 22nd, 2014
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Season of Mist

The “atmospheric/symphonic death metal” genre might make you scratch your head. SepticFlesh have been creating masterworks around this since the early 90s with a great discography that few bands in related genres can claim of in their careers. The Great Mass is definitely a step up from their previous album ‘Communion’ which was great too.

The band includes blast beats that closely resembles the Polish death metal sound in general, but with a twist; that being spacious atmospheric orchestrations moving in tandem with the underlying brutality. Each element gives each other ample space to reveal itself. Sprinkle in some well placed clean vocals (including some female backing vocals) with Spiros Antoniou’s harsh vocals dominating the proceedings, the result is something rather brilliant. In addition to these, if one considers the lyrics and the artwork, the album has got all its bases covered.

The album introduces itself with ‘The Vampire of Nazareth’, which starts off with a menacingly orchestrated intro and then opens up with a flurry of blasting drums and riffs. In between the song, the additions of melancholic melodic passages give the song another flavor. This is what the album is all about and much more. ‘The Great Mass of Death’ continues the journey alternating between brutal and epic melodic passages. I just want to reiterate that the orchestrations are truly out of this world. They are so well placed in each of the songs that they never appear to the out of sync. ‘Pyramid God’ immediately transports the listener to a fictional world where a man nearing insanity is lost in his dreams searching for the god he truly he wants to see.

On that note it’s worth mentioning that the orchestrations play a very powerful role in conjuring images in the mind. For example, with ‘Pyramid God’, one is able to link the material to something familiar experienced before and I’m sure we all have had our dosages of Egypt (in metal or literature) at some point or the other in our lives. ‘Oceans of Grey’ tends to relax the intensity a little bit but make no mistake, it is no filler. ‘Rising’, a rather simplistic song imbibes traditional melodic death metal and creates a soaring atmosphere. On a lighter note, this can be one of those motivational songs for sports teams. ‘Apocalypse’ and ‘Mad Architect’ revert back to the pattern in the first part of the album casting an ominous atmosphere over the listener. When ‘Therianthrophy’ ends the album I can’t help feel pondering over what a brilliant thoughtful album the Greeks have created.

SepticFlesh and their label must have spent a fortune creating this considering the quality of production and orchestration. Each and every penny was worth it in my opinion. The Greeks continue rolling like a juggernaut and it seems they can’t do nothing wrong. A must have.

Septicflesh - The Great Mass - 85%

padshiyangel01, December 25th, 2011

Returning with their 2nd offering after a hiatus, and 8th in total, Greek atmospheric death metal band Septicflesh have taken a reversed songwriting approach in The Great Mass, and formed the classical foundations before applying the bludgeoning metal. What results is a neurotic mix of the two which some may consider watered down, and others an innovative approach that certainly beats other recent attempts (AKA Dimmu Borgir).

To get an idea of the insanity within this album, take “We, The Gods” and “Lovecraft’s Death” from Communion and multiply. The opening track, “The Vampire From Nazareth”, is a perfect example of this, akin to a symphonic Behemoth that combines an ethereal female vocal and Anton’s own harsh grunt, which has now morphed into a Nergal tribute, while Benardo overpowers most other instruments with his blistering drum patterns. Ax-men Antoniou and Anunnaki are therefore relegated a lot of the time, only providing a few melodic riffs on tracks like the melancholic “Oceans Of Grey” or triumphant “Rising”, the latter of which is easily my favorite. Anunnaki’s cleans really shine through here, as well as on the gothic “Therianthropy”, which sports some creepy lyrics about possession: “If I can smell your scent, if I can hear you breathe/If I can use your skin, you’re there for me”.

Lyrics are an interesting theme within this album, ranging from topics such as Pythagoras’ star of elements through the construction of the pyramids to being trapped in a never-ending nightmare. They mostly fit in with the music itself, although the opening growled verse of “The Undead Keep Dreaming” is a little jarring. Choruses are a strongpoint on this album, whether during “Rising” or the echoed cry of “God wants to die” on “Apocalypse”. Both Anton’s and Anunnaki’s voices also meld well with the orchestral moments. The classical elements themselves, designed by Antoniou, range from complementary to eccentric, especially in the cinematic opening of “Oceans Of Grey” or carnival-esque feel of “Mad Architect”, but they mostly help rather than hinder.

The Great Mass is at once a natural evolution of Communion and a confusing move for Septicflesh. Classical elements have been once more thrust into the limelight, but this throws into question in which musical direction the band will develop. Whether a fully classical album à la My Dying Bride or a return to a more bludgeoning style, the next release will be very interesting to witness when it emerges. For now, the listener is left with an album which although doesn’t quite top previous releases in my eyes, is a solid release bound to interest both established and potential fans.

Originally posted at

Fatal Symphonies - 100%

lordazmolozmodial, December 5th, 2011

For those who don't know Septic Flesh, they are a death metal band from Athens, Greece. They started their career in the beginning of the nineties and released about eight full length albums. This year they released the masterpiece "The Great Mass" for those who adoreflawless extreme metal music. This album is simply one of the best metal albums this year without any exaggeration. We always felt that the orchestra has a twin called "black metal", and we can notice that in "Abrahadabra, Death Cult Armageddon by Dimmu Borgir", but "The Great Mass" proves the existence of another orphaned twin, a twin called "death metal". The Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague has been chosen to do the orchestral parts and the choirs with more than 150 members, and two female vocalists, Androniki Skoula (Chaostar) and iliana Tsakiraki (Meden Agan) do the soprano vocals.

"A great mass of death,
a great mass of Silence,
I am the destroyer of life,
I hear you chanting for me..."

With ten perfect orchestral death metal tracks, each one is a standout and has its own charming melodies with very memorable melodies and unforgettably grim riffs and there's no one single hidden melody here In spite of the complex chemistry of the songs. Everything is audible. You can hear "The Great Mass" til the last moment of your life without finding any flaw.

The orchestral arrangements lead the other instruments in some tracks (such as Pyramid God, Oceans of Grey, Apocalypse, and Mad Architect), but the opposite happens in other tracks (A Great Mass of Death and Five-Pointed Star), yet both of the orchestral arrangements and the other instruments go through each others in the tracks (The Vampire From Nazareth, The Undead Keep Dreaming, and Therianthropy). The track Rising doesn't have any obvious orchestral arrangement, so this album will satisfy every listener with its marvelous variations. The vocals of Seth still explode like an atomic bomb and the clean vocals of Sotiris take on the role of a big cloud over the bomb, so everything looks very hellish here. Benardo does a great drumming work in this album, his wrathful blastbeats digging a million needles through the existence of your ego.

Overall, if you want a brain-crasher release that can set your skull into a thousand pieces, and If you want an ear-eruption ecstasy, then here is the deal. "The Great Mass" has been made for you and you are in the right place with these flawless compositions, heavenly orchestra, brutal guitars, infernal drumming, and extremely grim vocals. You will remember this album til the last day of your life.

Originally written for :

Symphonic death metal is now a reality - 90%

androdion, October 18th, 2011

Sepitcflesh (formerly Septic Flesh) are one of the longest running and more famous bands to ever come out of Greece. Together with Rotting Christ they fight for the throne of the best band of the beautiful Hellenic country, and now Septicflesh bring their new album to up the ante with their competitors.

Septicflesh play death metal since their inception but to classify them as another death metal band would be ludicrous. They never were ones of being contempt with following the rules of what makes for typical death metal, instead opting for creating their own sound and carving their particular niche in the metal world with their amazing creativity and uniqueness. Always a band willing to explore new sounds and classical influences, they often incorporate outside elements like soprano vocals and orchestral arrangements to compliment their massive sound. I don’t see the term “symphonic death metal” tossed around usually but it wouldn’t be too far from reality to describe Septciflesh’s sound as that.

If Communion showed that the full implementation of orchestral arrangements and operatic segments was no experimentation but rather a way of evolving, then The Great Mass is going to be the album that cements this approach to death metal as one pioneered and mastered by the Greeks. Few if any bands in the world dare to venture into this type of compositions, henceforth making Septicflesh a very unique and refreshing entity in the metal world. With the help of the Filmharmonic Orchestra of Prague this album is beautifully enhanced in its symphonic parts, resembling a film score at times and one that would prove worthy of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy with much ease.

A soothing chant welcomes us into this work followed closely by the string section and accompanied by the bass section (contrabass I believe), all of this in a spine-chilling crescendo that finally unleashes Seth’s demonic gutturals. The song proceeds with the intertwining of the overture and bursts of brutal blasting and hellish growls until the mid-section enters with its harmonizing beautiful lead accompanied by Sotiris’ haunting clean vocals. The riff keeps being repeated by all the stringed instruments until the song reaches its end. That was “The Vampire Of Nazareth” the advance song for the album, and one can understand why as this imbues you with the will to listen to the rest of the album right away!

The album proceeds with mixing the aspects present in the first song over and over again, graced also with the presence of some gothic elements. Many times during the album, in particular during the more melodic breaks and leads, you can witness a romanticized sense of songwriting that clearly touches gothic metal. Just listen to the opening of “Pyramid God” with its amazing opening riff accompanied by violins in another crescendo until that first break where you’re compelled to bang your head as if your life depended on that. It’s a rather simple composition for the first minutes, consisting of variations of the main riff, but it’s very effective. Around the 3 minute mark it goes “out there” in a percussion pattern which gives it a more progressive and epic touch, only so Seth closes it again with his creepy vocal delivery. Probably the best song in the album along with the following “Five-Pointed Star” with its Eastern vibe on the guitars and middle thrashing section, were the drums simply take the front and leave you astounded. And then that riff keeps you banging your head even if you don’t want to. It compels you to do so and you can only comply! The sounds that follow evoke images of slaves building a pyramid in the shores of the Nile but the violins quickly bring the thrashing section again. It closes, again with the sounds of slave whips and stone being hammered. All this is of course brilliantly executed, with the orchestra showing themselves as a natural part of the band.

The more relaxed part of the album is then at hand with compositions like “Oceans Of Grey” with weeping violins and a very catchy middle section, rendered by flutes (or clarinets maybe?!) and operatic vocals, and “The Undead Keep Dreaming” with its slow pace and a crushing chorus as if it was pronounced by the Gods of the Underworld themselves. Sotiris makes again use of his clean vocals and it only complements the dense atmosphere present in this song. The use of orchestral parts is never gone and they always feel organic in how they adhere and compliment the songs that Septicflesh wrote for this album. Another good example of the amount of influences present in this album is the opening and main riffs of “Rising” with their gothic/melodeath tone, once again brought with the clashing of dual vocals. One of the more melodic and beautiful compositions of the entire album and a high point no doubt.

A few more songs remain and those that do are some of the more schizoid of the album, especially “Mad Architect”. Just listen to its opening and tell me if that doesn’t sound absolutely demented! The string section just goes berserk and the percussion follows ensue with weird tempo changes. It’s only near the two minute mark that you begin to understand a riff on the song but even that is rapidly gone as the string section goes berserk again. Remember the music that plays when the machines attack Zion in the third Matrix film? That’s exactly how this sounds, but even weirder! Therianthrophy has again a gothic and more melodic touch, and proves to be a nice smoothing closer.

The production is the typical Abyss Studios, a fat sound much like the latest works from Hypocrisy or Triptykon, so nothing to say about it. This album is an amazing breath of fresh air in the metal scene as it mixes so much different things and genres and yet manages to sound cohesive and well constructed. Maybe Dimmu Borgir can listen to this and learn something. The only negative point I can find with the album is the fact that during the more progressive/epic parts like in “Pyramid God”, they seem to lose some focus and wander off a bit too much. Nevertheless this is a great album, one that proves that the smaller metal scenes in Europe have a word to say on this globalized world of ours. What’s the best way to describe this album? It’s one which takes everything that’s been done before and reinvents itself in a way that only a band like Septicflesh could do, making it original and fresh. And that says it all.

Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine

The great bore. - 35%

Empyreal, July 21st, 2011

What the hell happened? Septic Flesh used to be a really excellent band playing with finesse, atmosphere and tons of energy. But you wouldn’t know it from The Great Mass, which is just an extremely poor album in any respect. Almost everything about this band that was good has been dialed down to a very droll, blandish album of “symphonic” “extreme” metal, and I put those in quotes because neither adjective is really played up to anything that could be described as inspiring or artistic. Mostly it’s just a forgettable pile of crap.

The problems with this album…where the hell do I even start? Well, for one, the riffs aren’t any good. They’re mostly just really stock, faceless chunking that stands aside to make way for the symphonic parts, which are doubly overbearing and not interesting at the same time. They sound like generic symphonic and orchestral bits used by any band who wants to sound cultured and different. The band mistakes ‘slow’ for ‘beautiful,’ and so we’re stuck with a bunch of really dragging parts that do not inspire anything but boredom. The atmosphere here is shaky at best, and most of the time I couldn’t even put a finger on what they were trying to conjure up.

The songs are short and uninspiring, and do not utilize the symphonic elements to any degree greater than just having them play behind otherwise generic and dull songs. The vocals are OK, but then, they don’t really stand out…the album could have easily ditched them entirely, and no great loss would have been suffered. Septic Flesh’s usual idiosyncrasies are dialed down to mere traces in the drums and bass; that’s really it. No unique song structures, no parts that make you stop what you’re doing and do a double take…oh, wait, except for the worthless nasal, powerless clean vocals. Can’t forget those.

Fine; you want an actual example? “The Vampire From Nazareth” – some riffs that maybe could be catchy if the band applied a good, groovy rhythm to it, but they just don’t do anything. They constantly stop the song for these plodding, drawn out symphonic interludes, ruining any possible enjoyment. It’s like the band has forgotten what they’re good at. If they were still writing music that was in any way captivating, I could forgive the change in style, but every song on here is completely unmemorable and safe, and takes no risks whatsoever beyond the occasional section that might have been a B-side off of Sumerian Daemons.

This is really, really watered down and uninteresting. Don’t bother listening to it. Just go get Mystic Places of Dawn and Sumerian Daemons instead. This is just crap.

Greek Demons Have Risen - 99%

Rotting_Christ_Mike, May 11th, 2011

I have been patiently waiting for my copy of the Limited Edition of this release to arrive in my mail, and I managed to resist the temptation of downloading a leaked version 5 days prior to the release of this. I got my hands on it just the day after it was released and I watched the DVD immediately but waited for the night to come to listen to the music. After hearing the symphonic masterpiece that Communion was, one could only try and imagine what would come next, and I am glad to tell you that whatever I had imagined, pales in comparison with the actual masterpiece that is called The Great Mass.

When it was completely dark, I pressed the play button on my stereo in which I had previously placed the CD. As the band says, I "Let the self-cannibalistic feast begin!"...

The first thing that hit me was the ethnic nuances in the first seconds of "The Vampire From Nazareth" but of course I had already heard that as it was released as a single on the 24th of December back in 2010. Naturally I had a lot of time to fully absorb it over the months and listen to it enough times to focus on each individual aspect of it. I found out that the mysterious atmosphere that is created by the symphonic intro is great. It builds up, and then comes that awesome little drum solo before the mighty growls come in. The song is inspired by the phenomenon of Vampiric elements in various religions. I must say something about the last one and a half minute or so of the song; it is pure awesomeness! Awesome backround lead guitar work, emphasized by the symphonic work, and all of this topped with some of the most atmospheric chants I have ever heard; "We offer the sun.." .

After that follows "A Great Mass Of Death" which, obviously, is about death. You may find lyrics that deal with the great mystery of death a little bit cliché, but trust me, this song avoids being generic or boring. I think what the lyrics are trying to do, is to refer to death as if it was a person; it's quite paradoxical. I think it is a personification of the unknown. This song features one of the most interesting riffs in the album, great for headbanging! Overall this song has a feeling of mysticism and it's quite strange. I love the lyrics, the amazing guitar riff and especially the part where there is some sort of a duet between Spiros and Sotiris and they both sing "...a great mass of silence, a concerto of sadness...".

"Pyramid God" deals with dreaming. It starts with one of the most magnificent symphonic/orchestral parts I have heard in my entire life, not only in music, but also in movies. It is such an ear candy! The epic symphonic part continues throughout the song, giving it a perfect feel. That lyric line where it says "Pyramid god, I am the dreamer of this realm.." is just so touchy! It makes my blood pumping! I already said enough, because you just have to listen to it to get what I mean! It's Perfect!

"Five-Pointed Star" is about the star of Pythagoras. The five points are water, earth, fire, idea and air. Supposedly Pythagoras used those points to create a map of the universe. Obviously Sotiris is really educated, as all the lyrical subjects are sophisticated and well thought. There's a creepy intro that I really like. Another killer riff in this song! I'm referring to the one that start's at 0:25 right after those chants, which are also nice.

"Oceans Of Grey" is another song about losing your memories, amnesia; imagine if you had to build your whole life again from the beginning! The drums are spectacular on this song and I love that speedy riff at 0:40. At 1:06 the growls and the distorted guitars sit to the back and we have some really great ambient/symphonic work that leads to the part where Sotiris starts whispering "In your dreams you hear a name, was it yours? Is it reclaimed?" ten seconds later. The song just builds up and then, out of nowhere a female operatic vocalist just pops in and delivers beautifully! That parts gives me goosebumps! The part where Spiros growls "You forget the past painted by you".

"The Undead Keep Dreaming" is a song about being awake in a dream; now that's fascinating! It features a really atmospheric opening riff reminiscent of black metal. Fotis kicks ass on this one too! Just listen to that drum work! The part that impresses me a lot is when Sotiris keeps singing in the backround; "Dreaming...". That is also found in various sections during the song. Then Spiros starts growling about Sotiris's experience back in '81 when he found himself trapped in a dream and even now he's not sure if he ever came back from it. Many riffs to be found here; they are lurching everywhere!

"Rising" is about determination, I guess. It makes me feel so powerful to the "I am rising!" part , just awesome! Amazing guitars and drums in the intro, they make you wanna punch someone in the face and make him bleed. I guess you can call this short and sweet.

"Apocalypse" deals with Gods. It starts with a truly bombastic intro of the orchestra playing over some crazy riff and lightning speed drum beats. At 0:8 we've got only the orchestra playing and it's truly majestic! The choir sings some cool stuff there! At 0:28 an incredible and magnificent riff begins, and it makes my head spin like crazy! Fotis rocks that kit! The "God wants to die!" part is awesome as fuck!

"Mad Architect" is a really diverse track. When I listen to it, my mind is filled with chaotic images. It's a really powerful song! That crazy intro is great; the orchestra does a fine job for sure! The lyrics describe a journey through a labyrinth and it is such a detailed and emotive description! At 0:57 that crazy symphonic part used in the intro pops up again and it's just so overwhelmingly beautiful! It truly gives you the feeling that it is actually you that is trapped in the maze! It actually feels like the whole song is a labyrinth.

Finally we have "Therianthropy" . It begins with clean vocals by Sotiris. It almost has a Gothic vibe. Fotis shines here again. I like the guitar melodies that are found in this song. It's a really dynamic tracks and a great way to end the record.

Overall this is a masterpiece of epic proportions and it delivers its diverse content in a disgusting yet beautiful way. On this record, the orchestral parts do a great job backing the band, or since the orchestral parts were written first, you can say it the other way around. Each symphonic piece of work found here is a symphony of perfection and this record is a proof of Christos's talent in classical music. He is obviously a great guitarist too. On another point, Sotiris does an excellent job with the clean vocals, spreading some diversity in the mostly growled lyrics. Moreover he delivers the guitar parts perfectly giving them the required feeling for each song. Last but not least, he really crossers his boundaries and explores many different and varied lyrical themes on this record, therefore giving it a unique feel that maybe was absent on past Septicflesh releases (with the exception of Communion). Spiros utilizes a mighty growl that really helps the songs become what they are. His bass while completely audible mostly follows the guitars. Fotis is a beast of a drummer, a truly exceptional player! He provides a steady rhythm for the rest of the band and is for sure a huge part of the band's massive sound.

The two types of music mix perfectly together and when they blend they create a bombastic sound that in my ears, sound like the sound of triumph. In addition the music does not come out as watered down or constrained as on other releases such as Dimmu Borgir's Abrahadabra. This will be a journey (lyrically and musically) that shall never be forgotten. So "Is man a suicidal God?" , well after hearing this he will most probably become one...

Highlights; "The Vampire From Nazareth", "Pyramid God" , "Apocalypse" , "Mad Architect" and "Therianthropy".

A Greek Masterpiece - 90%

Rosner, April 27th, 2011

After a glorious comeback with Communion, an album which brought a new sound and a new fanbase to the band, Septicflesh returns with a beautiful album that could only be described as a masterpiece: every song flows naturally, the band members are at their best and the orchestra just makes the things even more interesting.

The album opens with The Vampire of Nazareth, and it instantly raises the bar very high. The tribal drumming intro leads into a blast of furious death metal which gets more and more intense, ending with an epic mix of chants, choir and melodic guitar riffing, giving the song a particular greek flavor. After listening to the album many times, one cand perceive that the traditional greek influence is very present along the songs, specially in the orchestral arrangements.

A Great Mass of Death follows. After the song slows downs we can listen for the first time to Sotiris clean vocals, haunting and beautiful at the same time, which are featured more prominent here than in Communion. The outro shows how heavy can Septicflesh go, blastbeating their way to the next song, Pyramid God, a very catchy piece with great lyrics, arrangements and an interesting interlude which changes the pace oddly.

Five-Pointed Stars follows, a total death metal assault with a couple of symphonic interludes. Oceans of Grey presents a more gothic approach, with operatic women vocals and interesting breakdowns. The Undead Keep Dreaming shows more doom influences, with a mid tempo estructure, some nice clean vocals by Sotiris and great drumming, ending with aggressive drumming and orchestra.

Rising gives the brutality a break. With melodic guitar lines, no orchestra and a harsh verse/clean chorus structure, Septic goes on Gothemburg territory, and they manage to build a great song. It can be compared to Communion's Narcissus, but while that song seemed out of place and gave Communion a dissapointing ending, this one helps keep the things interesting and it helps the album flow naturally, leading the album to the last songs, which are the most epic.

Apocalypse features great guitar lines, a triumphant orchestra and a very epic chorus, with Seth and Sotiris doing a duet, contrasting the growls with the clean singing in a very effective way. The song closes with a crushing breakdown, leading to the next song and my personal favourite, Mad Architect. Here, the band really nailed the sound of madness through one of the greatest string arrangements I've ever heard, evoking images of labyrinths and desperation. If the crescendo ending does not sends shivers down your spine, then something must be wrong with you.

Therianthropy it's a natural closer, Sotiris voice at his best and melodic guitars end the album and leaves you wanting more. The band surpassed themselves with this release; as I said before, they are at their best moment: the guitar lines are beautifully crafted, the bass has it's moments, Seth's growls remain unbeatable, harsh yet understable, and Sotiris voice it's just beautiful. Although the true star here is Fotis, a very underrated drummer which shines on every song and never ceases to amaze with his perfomance. Peter Tägtgren's production is great, making everything sound right and not overwhelmed by the orchestra, which by the way makes a great perfomance and it's used intelligently through the record. My few complains would be how short the album is and how Sotiris voice is used more prominently, making it less spectacular than in Communion (though not overused).

Septicflesh has done it again: a marvelous Greek masterpiece which gets even better with each spin. Fans of Therion dissapointed with the last albums will find new gods to worship; fans of Dimmu Borgir will learn how one can mix extreme metal and symphonic music without losing heaviness and remaining catchy and creative. I just hope we don't have to wait three years for another record... (by the way, the vinyl version it's great, and the artwork is brilliant).

It's A Mass of Something - 57%

GuntherTheUndying, April 20th, 2011

So Septicflesh (or Septic Flesh, or whatever) continues to drive its strange death metal machine throughout “The Great Mass,” the band’s second post-reunion album and eighth full-length overall. The record’s tone is much like its preceding sibling – “Communion” – which fornicated with bombastic symphonic elements and orchestral influences between the band’s atmosphere-heavy sorcery and metallic arrangements. The thought of orchestral death metal makes me drool like a fat kid eating a cheeseburger, and Septicflesh should've reached a cluster of excellence throughout “The Great Mass.” However, the record is no fragment of perfection by any stretch; the faction is clearly lacking in the pretentious equations which rule the album, often times tripping over their own feet. “The Great Mass” is just too high-class and pampered for its own good.

The collaboration generally sounds massive because it's a death metal band (Septicflesh) performing with a full-blown, one-hundred percent orchestra. Now in a situation like this, what are the possibilities? Maybe a ripping solo violating a tribe of violins, or how about savage riffing and blast beats beating the piss out of a goddamn tuba? Well, I could go on all day about orchestral daydreams, but now I'm facing the real music: the orchestra is useless. It only surrounds Septicflesh as they churn out basic death metal, sometimes frisking while the band is blasting and growling or engaging in atmospheric chimes once clean vocals and gothic elements take control. It's not colorful or awesome; it's predictable and boring. Septicflesh, too, are hugely uninteresting. Most of the band's riffs and melodies are powerless and generic, and the empty orchestration only flutters around Septicflesh's banality. For an album so large and massive, how in the world does one make it so formulaic and boring? Don't these things come with a failsafe?

The record starts on a very positive note with the raging "The Vampire from Nazareth" and the title track, both of which overflow with massive riffs and dazzling orchestration which unite Septicflesh into the occult web they try so hard to conjure. Everything comes to a shrieking halt after these tracks, however. The Greeks sway into gothic territory throughout "Oceans of Grey," a ballad-ish thingy (it's Septicflesh, come on) bent on breaking the release's seemingly-fine flow, that does wonders boring the listener. "Rising" and "Apocalypse" are sparkling with orchestration and Septicflesh's atmospheric slaughter, but both rush by like leaves in the wind. "Mad Architect" tries to sound insane or twisted, only to look pompous, and the album's final track, "Therianthropy," couldn't make a lasting impression if Jimi Hendrix performed a guest solo. "Pyramid God" and "The Undead Keep Dreaming" are good numbers, however; both are strange, catchy, and deliver a vivid ambience. But most of "The Great Mass" lacks power or focus, and that's inexcusable for something so huge.

I find it really disappointing that "The Great Mass" isn't anything more than acceptable music. A full-blown orchestra? Death metal? Together, like two peas in a pod? Come on Septicflesh, why in the world is this the final product? I've expressed my view numerous times throughout this analysis, and if there's one point I want to stress, it's the absolute mediocrity and forgetfulness. Most folks will be fuming about the record's wonderful progressivism, daring musicianship, and any flammable praise that will keep the ostentatious inferno burning, so I’m probably in the minority. “The Great Mass” is average, not a radical reshaping of orchestral music and death metal, as much as I hate to say so.

This review was written for:

Seduction via impish impresario - 97%

autothrall, April 18th, 2011

While I've always been partial to the earlier works of Septic Flesh (Mystic Places of Dawn through A Fallen Temple), there is no question that the Greeks have been on a major tear of late; their past two full-lengths Sumerian Daemons and Communion going viral, exploding their listener base exponentially. An incredible second wind for a career that was ailing by the turn of the century. Justifiable, of course, as the recent albums had immense production values and forceful, memorable songwriting, both of which continues here upon The Great Mass. But what separates this from its direct lineage would be the huge improvement in the band's ability to incorporate their worldly, symphonic elements.

Such an expansive interest was evident in Septic Flesh form their early years, in which the band incorporated female, operatic vocals and synthesized orchestras to positive effect, but The Great Mass escalates this marriage of instrumentation to a level previously achieved only by Therion in their prime, or Hollenthon's With Vilest of Worms to Dwell, and album quite similar to this one in potency and quality. The Great Mass flawlessly integrates the brutal death medium into the glaze of sweeping strings and percussion, evoking the gravitas of dead, ancient civilizations and forbidden rites through dynamic whorls and theatrical escalation. From the eerie and ethereal musings that inaugurate "The Vampire from Nazareth" to the massive, Gothic architecture of the finale "Therianthropy", the listener is cast through a climactic struggle of epic proportions.

I was initially concerned that the symphonic bombast might quickly overtake the core metallic elements, but I'm happy to relent that "A Great Mass of Death", "Mad Architect", and the magnificent "Five-Pointed Star" are loaded with guitar hooks, excellent drumming and Spiros' magnanimous growls. Not a single moment of this album feels imbalanced or imprecise. Whereas an album like Dimmu Borgir's latest Abrahadabra sacrifices guitar quality for its broadly painted classical overtures, Septic Flesh have discovered the precise ratio in which one half of its elated charms do not overtake the other, and written ten tracks straight down the line. I would not deign to choose a favorite, because I can't think of one that doesn't have some measure of rapture to offer the audience, but "Five-Pointed Star" and the steady, percussive roil of "The Undead Keep Dreaming" are particularly powerful, but the entirety is an experience well worth lavishing the coin upon and taking in a dark chamber.

Perhaps not every individual riff here is breathtaking, perhaps not every swell of orchestration truly immersible, but The Great Mass is well within the running as a metal album of the year contender. Where the last two efforts lacked some of the subtle, graceful doom of earlier records like The Ophidian Wheel, this actually serves as the perfect bridge between the various phases of the band's career (excluding the soppy melodeath drama of Revolution DNA). The Greeks put in a considerable amount of effort to this, and it has paid off like no one's fucking business. While it might fall a sliver shy of perfection, it's truly a culmination of the aesthetics they've been cultivating for over 20 years now; a richly evocative, mandatory sojourn to the occult fringe.


Septic Flesh's best album to date. - 95%

Subrick, April 18th, 2011

Septic Flesh is one of the few proverbial diamonds in the rough in the modern death metal scene. In a musical genre filled with generic performances, poor structure, and outright chaos just for the sake of outright chaos, Seth, Sotiros, Christos, and Fotis have been creating interesting and varied death metal for the better part of 21 years. So it should come as no surprise that The Great Mass, the band’s eagerly anticipated follow up to 2008’s Communion, is another amazing effort. It might be early to say this, but it’s possibly the band’s best outing to date.

The album kicks off with “The Vampire from Nazareth”. The first thing one will notice when listening to the opening track is that the background is loaded with orchestral elements. Now, Septic Flesh has always had symphonic sounds on their albums, but this is a different kind of symphony. It appears that Septic Flesh have gone to the Dimmu Borgir School of Orchestra Usage in Extreme Metal, as that in fact was the first thing the orchestra on this album reminded me of. The band has combined the flowing, epic orchestras of Dimmu Borgir with the speed and intensity of death metal, coupled with a healthy dose of melody on many of the tracks. Along with the orchestras, female vocals are used sparingly throughout the album, as is the clean vocals of guitarist Sotiris Vayenas. Parts of songs, or even entire songs like “Pyramid God”, are very much akin to a style of melodic death metal that is not a total rip off of the Gothenburg sound. Every track has new tricks up its sleeves, making it a varied experience where during every listen the listener will find something new about a song that they didn’t notice before. If there’s any one thing I like in my metal music, it’s variety. I despise boring albums, and The Great Mass is anything but a boring album.

The two vocalists in Septic Flesh, growler & Seth Antoniou and clean singer & guitarist/keyboardist Sotiris Vayenas, come to the forefront whenever they are featured. Seth has a very Mikael Akerfeldt-like quality to him; this comes from the fact that Seth and Mikael’s vocal styles are very much alike. Both use a very guttural throaty kind of death growl that is so thick and powerful that you can feel their vocal cords ripping and tearing as they create their inhuman roars. It’s very much like listening to the roar of a lion, although the lion might have met his match in the form of Seth. Sotiris’ clean vocals, while not used as much as I would have liked for them to be used, are very interesting to listen to. Much like how Seth can be compared to Mikael from Opeth, Sotiris is very much comparable to Snowy Shaw from Therion. Sotiris uses a somewhat nasally singing style, which makes it sound unique amongst the crowd of weak sounding backup singers in metal today. The guitar offerings of Sotiris and Christos Antoniou vary between light finger-picked harmonies akin to early Mayhem, and fast paced, face ripping death metal riffs that would make Deicide blush. The bass is, sadly, inaudible, something that I really don’t like in modern metal. That’s one of the only real criticisms I have of this album: the bass is absolutely inaudible throughout the vast majority of the album. Fotis Benardo’s drumming is, once again, superb, varied, and downright insane at times. Fotis uses a potent combination of double bass and blast beats to beat the listener into submission. Sections of songs such as the opening verse of “The Vampire of Nazareth” are akin to the “bass drums follow the guitar no matter how crazy the riff is” approach popularized by Fear Factory and Meshuggah.

The combination of all these fine musicians putting all their ideas together, mixing in symphony and melody, and using a production style that is audible while still retaining some organic feel to it, creates an epic listening experience for whoever pops in this album and sits in awe of what four guys from Greece have created. During the period before The Great Mass was released, I felt that it would certainly give Communion a run for its money. It has exceeded all my expectations and is without a doubt the best metal release of 2011 thus far, and quite possibly the best album ever made by Septic Flesh.