Septicflesh - Codex Omega

Septicflesh Codex Omega cover
Codex Omega
Season Of Mist
Average: 5.5 (22 votes)
Goddamn, it makes me feel old remembering the times when Septic Flesh hadn’t really debuted with a full-length or had their “demo” reviewed in the local press… the early 90s; time flies and nearly three decades later and a brief four year “hiatus”, the band now presents its tenth album, which is as one would have expected, a logical step past “Titan”, but for a multitude of reasons also a little bit of a refocus and a foray into the bands rich past…
The massive sound of post reunion albums is present as always and the balance between the band and orchestra seems to be almost ideal, with the band leading and being finely complemented by the orchestra and not vice versa (call me Fleshgood Apocalypse) or other similar bands that have attempted to do something alike. In fact, the band sounds a lot like the cousin of early Therion (around “Ho Drakon” or” Leppaca Klifoth”), who got a bigger budget, but stuck to their guns, instead of exploring lighter and more melodic territory… in fact I hardly think anyone does symphonic death like them.
Septicflesh’s music is heavy as hell and dark as the depths of Tartarus. It makes you feel as you’re in hell and blood is raining down on you... drowning you, the cataclysmic and drowning force of a destiny that is unavoidable. All that while maintaining generous amounts of melody that usually comes from a careful accent of what the awesome guitars of Christos are playing, with fitting orchestral accompaniment…
A good example would be the nightmarish opener “Dante’s Inferno”, which might begin with light strings and guitar strums, but soon turns the hell and the orchestra on 11. What I wouldn’t mind is a little more vocal variety by Spyros, who could sound imposing with his “low” growling, but could have a counter acting lighter voice within the tonality... a somewhat cleaner lead that doesn’t sound weak. (because let’s face it, Sotiris vocals are less menacing)…
“3rd Testament” is a very intense song with some hellish riffing and the orchestral parts and choirs keeping the suspense high. What I do miss, although I am not entirely sure it might bode well with the current style is the more defined choruses of some older songs that would become the focus of it, rather than the momentary eruption in a flow.
Following a short and perversely folklore intro, “Portrait of a Headless Man” is mean as it is menacing, dark and foreboding its orchestral orientations, while new drummer Kerim Lechner proves himself to be a fine replacement for the departing Fotis Bernardo.
“Martyr” too seems to lend itself an intro that sounds “traditional” in different ways, but it soon becomes uranium heavy as it symphonic ally moves along. I could see this one be done in a more daring style, with some verses being “clean” and a chorus delivered in a melodic baritone. Just maybe… it’s still great as it is, with some brilliant melodies towards the end.
In a line of strong songs that remains unbroken “Enemy of the Truth” has some light orchestration over some ultra-heaviness happening right out the door; it sounds like a demonic mass with some dark ambiance and sulfur, filling your lungs causing you to suffocate.
The answer to a question not posed, comes in the form of “Dark Art” and that would be – what are you creating. Here is perhaps one of the few occasions in which the orchestra takes over, with Sotiris in places lightening the darkness that Spiro so amply creates.
“Our Church Below the Sea” seems to subscribe to the Cthulu mythos; I guess and to the school of cool guitar riffs as well, with the orchestra also adding a layer of splendor. Here backed by the orchestra, Sotiris “parts” sound quite mystical, in what I consider to be one of the better songs of the album, just because it allows the band’s earlier style to emerge from the depths in a rare glimpse; in fact, I would be most content, if the band could do more and more daring things in this style, just as they used to back in the “Ophidian” days…
“Faceless Queen” is another adventurous and quite experimental piece, with a groovier band followed closely by the orchestra that also comes alive in a track iconoclastic, as it is impressive. Sotiris interventions and the takeover of Spiro that ensues, sound like they could make you ears bleed… before they decay… another highpoint.
“The Gospels of Fear” is abysmal – not abysmally bad – but comes from the depths of the abyss, along with some buzzsaw riffs and the orchestra. I likey… lots.
Last but not least, “Trinity” returns the focus on the band with even some blast beats but also acoustics in another “quite restless” number that’s not afraid to take its chances that seem to pay off…
If I need to squeal about something, I find the overall sound of the band’s instruments a little more “raw” and while I like the result to not sound plastic, the elegance of an orchestra is mostly saved, by the expert mix of Jens Bogren. Heck “Titan” sounded better in that respect, although, I must say that I probably find this one to be a better album overall, as it manages to marry the past with the present and maybe show a way into the future. With their thirtieth anniversary coming up soon, it would be neat to see them abandon a preconceptions and daring to take a bold step into the future and an even more grandiose and darker territory…

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