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Septicflesh - The Great Mass Review

by Matt Hensch

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.

Septicflesh - The Great Mass


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