Review Summary: Debut album sees Greek death metallers slowly finding their feet.
It’s 1994. Emperor have just released In the Nightside Eclipse
and Amorphis have crafted arguably the album of their careers in Tales From The Thousand Lakes
. In the midst of these seminal metal releases, as well as many others, a small underground band from Greece known as Septic Flesh are quietly working on their debut album titled Mystic Places Of Dawn
. While this record may not be as fundamentally important at influencing future generations of young extreme metal bands as those named previously, it would be an album that would set Septic Flesh on their way on a local level, as well as attracting attention from elsewhere due to the ability and diversity on display.
While not exactly reinventing the wheel and though it may not be as atmospherically impacting as their later releases will prove to be, Mystic Places Of Dawn
is an excellent and fearless debut from the Greeks considering the eponymous albums surfacing around them. What Septic Flesh do, however, is play death metal often at a very pedestrian pace. While this may not sound immediately appealing to fans of the genre, these ambient passages are delicately filled with superbly constructed leads and almost progressive melodies. These dreamy moments intersperse the flashes of old school death metal brilliance that the band so effortlessly construct. All of the above elements combine to give an album of complex and contrasting song structures, made even more diverse and fascinating by the often haunting atmospherics incorporated in the production.
When guitarists Sotiris Vayenas and Christos Antoniou do combine to fashion riffs, they do so impressive style; aggressive while maintaining melody and feeling, as well as connecting wonderfully with the dark atmosphere. An atmosphere that only emphasizes the malevolent vocals of Seth Antoniou. His signature throaty growls give Mystic Places Of Dawn
a sinister edge and even through gentle melodic sections keep the album sounding brutal and angry. Though the vocals and progressive tones can become slightly repetitive, songs such as “Return To Carthage” show the furious pace Septic flesh are capable of manifesting. Pounding blasts beats, sharp riffing and the ever present belligerent howls create a sound that the band would eventually grow into over the years. Throughout the album there are plenty of neat sounding solos highlighting the proficiency of the guitarists and their enthusiasm for their style of music they play. “The Underwater Garden” combines all elements of the album to create a song that’s as beautiful as it is heavy. Subtle keyboards and melodic guitar dexterity create the atmosphere while the guttural vocals, brutal riffs and hammering drum patterns perturb the delicate interludes with sheer metallic prowess.
While it’s not ground breaking, Septic Flesh do well on their debut to craft a style and an album that will be a basis for bigger things to come. The eclectic nature of each song is what makes Mystic Places Of Dawn
so appealing and it will prepare the underground world of what would follow in the forthcoming years. While avid death metal fans might argue that this record is at times sluggish and may become boring, the quality it possesses is enough to see past this possible flaw and those who embrace it for its qualities will surely find something enjoyable. A very solid debut from a band that would rise to the top of the Greek death metal scene.