Review Summary: Greeks fuse sharp new material with a few blasts from the past.
By 1998, Septic Flesh had released three full length albums and had made great strides in making a name for themselves through their highly innovative music. A Fallen Temple
is an interesting release that not only builds on their past sound, but gives their old sound fresh emphasis and value also. This is a record of two halves, consisting of several new songs and several remixed songs from earlier EPs and demos; while it may not be the ideal starting place for new fans, it is nonetheless an eclectic output from a band that now had the freedom and reassurance of a solid fanbase to branch out and try something different.
It seems Septic Flesh’s sound develops and intensifies with each release and A Fallen Temple
is no exception. While their proggy roots are not abandoned, they choose here a more aggressive sound, almost thrashy at some points. Guitarists Sotiris Vayenas and Christos Antoniou as ever combine well and effectively, carving out enormous riffs that simply outweigh anything written previously. Lead play also stands out from previous records, “Marble Smiling Face” is one such example; pounding riffs are overlaid with sky scraping guitar melodies and highlight the abundance of talent the Greeks possess. Their trademark tidy solos are also, as ever, impressive and memorable. The ever present Seth Antoniou is once again the driving force behind the mic. His guttural lows also stand out from previous albums, harsh and more punishing than ever. On the new material Septic Flesh have undoubtedly upped their game, production quality is clean accentuating this new approach. A Fallen Temple
is also a monstrous album as far as drumming is concerned; pounding blast beats and surprisingly complex patterns keep the heavy riffs flowing and ensuring they pack a devastating punch.
The increased input of Christos is excels with this album. His masterpiece, “Underworld”, is a two act operatic enigma, containing only the beautiful voice of Natalie Rassoulis and several backing male vocalists. While several lengthy operatic pieces may not appeal to all fans of the band, they will surely attract many new ones and they are at least something Septic Flesh can call their own. The partnership between Christos and Seth also creates diversity within A Fallen Temple
; Chris’s subtle and elegant clean vocals add another layer along with Seth’s malicious tones, guaranteeing that the vocal patterns aren’t as monotonously orientated as on earlier albums.
While the remixes of earlier material does sound quite strong, it is not the superlative introduction to the sound and works of Septic Flesh. Gone are the trademark atmospherics that are so key to the band’s unmistakable sound, gone are the angelic vocals of Natalie Rassoulis, what is left is a raw death metal approach with Seth assuming control of all vocal duties. While not necessarily a bad addition, they are somewhat misleading and different sounding to other Septic Flesh material, giving the impression of an almost entirely different band playing within the same album. “The eldest Cosmonaut (Dark Version)” is a remix of the second track on the album, with the addition of Seth’s vocals where there were none previously; the track stands out as a remix that fits with the continuity of the album and gives the song a darker feel.
While A Fallen Temple
may only be considered a stop gap until the band released Revolution DNA
later in 1998 with an entire track list of new material, it is nonetheless an interesting listen. The album will be a treat for earlier fans of the band who will enjoy hearing older somewhat forgotten material in a new format, but for newcomers to the band and their distinctive sound this record may be slightly misleading. If you like an album that presents strong changes in musical style and atmosphere along its duration, this may be a worthwhile venture for you. If not, an earlier album such as Esoptron
or The ophidian Wheel
may be of greater appeal. A strongly varied album and a worthwhile addition to any long time fan’s collection, but not the perfect preamble into the world of Septic Flesh.