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Septicflesh - Temple of the Lost Race Review

by Matt Hensch

Yeah, doing a write-up on "Temple of the Lost Race" might seem redundant given that the EP was reworked on "A Fallen Temple" and reissued in its entirety on certain reissues of "Mystic Places of Dawn." But I'm doing it because this is much more than added bonus tracks or cheap demo material; it's a special snapshot of an embryonic Septicflesh (or Septic Flesh, or whatever) feeling the air in its lungs for the first time. Call it extraneous towards the group's post-reunion direction or obsolete if you must, but the first major and mostly obscured Septicflesh release holds its proper place in the band's distinctive discography as a planted seed of the unique atmospheric approach to death metal the Greeks would later magnify to a most remarkable degree. (Not to mention it certainly surpasses the drivel they created after "Sumerian Daemons.")

The EP best captures the group identifying its unique surroundings while implementing what is the most 'primitive' sounding foundation of the Septicflesh epic. Like many of the band's works, the atmosphere of the EP is absolutely vital to its overall success, though the music here is less atmosphere-oriented than future works. Part of this is due to the production, raw quality akin to many of the self-produced demos and EPs of the time-keep in mind this was 1991. Not to imply the sound is at all a hindrance; it's actually very enriching. It sounds like a thick smog of darkness, heavy and clear on the rhythm section yet balanced so as not to make the robust guitar work lose its sharpness. The leads and solos are completely unspoiled among the fog, bringing ample life to the majesty of the powerful melodies and complex lead work; they are the highlight of the EP.

Yet the songs featured within "Temple of the Lost Race" range from decent to utterly extraordinary, with no filler present among the four songs running up an easy twenty-one minutes of running time. The guitar work shows an eerie semblance of the heavy grooves and blazing tremolo riffs typical of the budding death metal world of the time mixed with strange melodies and structures Septicflesh would later amplify on "Mystic Places of Dawn." Certainly the punchiest of the band's works, most of the tempos are heavy on the double bass and rhythmically forceful and straightforward; the mid-paced elements, however, are vibrant, holding an important place in the mood of the EP. Synths are numerous amid the backdrop and serve as minor tools to augment the color of the forbidden grime, appropriate for both atmosphere and texture.

Although it's interesting to hear Septicflesh feeling around the edges of its identity, the songs simply do not have the remarkable adroitness of future works. Spiros Antoniou's vocals are also in a development stage of sorts; his growls aren't as guttural, appear more conventional. The title track is the clear standout and comes close to scraping the high level of quality that was commonplace among the Septicflesh tribe until their split; the other tunes are fine, but that high bar still lingers overhead. The EP ends up being a nice artifact for fans of the group, something both worthwhile and attention-grabbing. I prefer these songs over the rerecorded versions on "A Fallen Temple," because they have more vitality, and the sound quality really brings the murkiness to life. Bottom line: even since day one, Septicflesh was an extraordinary project.

Septicflesh - Temple of the Lost Race


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