Septicflesh
The Great Mass


4.5
superb

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
April 16th, 2011 | 487 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Septic Flesh release their tour de force, an album that actually astounds by not caving in on itself under the sheer weight of its very creators' ambitions.

Be strong, readers, because this is what they'll say: 'But this is no different than any of the other bloated symphonic projects from bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, bro.' That's what those in opposition, the enemies, the unbelievers of The Great Mass will hit you with immediately when you recommend this album to them in your next music list or during your next social gathering, what have you. For Septic Flesh (or Septicflesh, one word, following their 2008 reunion) will be facing stark levels of resistance from many music fans with their new album, even more so than their 2008 critically well-recieved Communion, and seemingly by advertisement alone, they rightfully should: these Greek metallers have gone completely overboard with their creative ambitions. Big, grandiose, and to those with set ears against show-y production values, pompous, The Great Mass is what many traditionalists of death metal will hate, ridicule, and are sure to make comical example of, without having even listened to it.

Indeed, on paper The Great Mass is a disaster of epic proportions waiting to happen. But do you know what is so awesome about it? Septic Flesh pull it off. Yeah, the grizzly, long-haired bastards somehow actually pull it off. The incorporation of the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Choir of Prague, and blackened death metal, all centered around a firm melodic base fed through the bark and snarl of Spiros Antoniou and the clean harmonizing vocals of Sotiris Vayenas, come together for the band's strongest release thus far. They escape the pitfalls of contemporaries Hollenthon and The Monolith Deathcult with The Great Mass by placing their artistic vision on an equal playing field with their talents as a band, none higher, none lower, this time while escaping the cheesiness that kept key sections of Communion back as well.

Communion's "Sunlight/Moonlight" and "Anubis" were the main offenders of said cringe-worthy moments, Vayenas' cleanly sung choruses often ruining the driving, relentless mood of the blackened death metal songs. But this time, however, Vayenas is placed in a more subordinate, harmonizing role to that of Antoniou on The Great Mass, and the difference to be heard between Communion and its songs is worth noting because of it. On first single "The Vampire From Nazareth", Vayenas harmonizes with the choir on a beautiful concluding vocal line that brings what was a sweeping orchestrated death metal assault on the senses to a peaceful refrain. Latter cut “Apocalypse”, featuring some of the album’s best songwriting, has the singer playing second fiddle to the bassist, joining in at the song’s second chorus with a powerful, and catchy, dual vocal performance of cleans and growls. The two work in perfect union with each other this time out, even making careful, noteworthy use of the choir vocals for maximized effect.

The interplay of the vocalists are not the only area that Septic Flesh show unity among its, and the orchestra's, members, though. Surely to be pertinent to any fan of Communion is the band's own humility when it comes to following the Philharmonic Orchestra’s lead on The Great Mass. The sweeping and enthralling instrumental heights that are reached by “Oceans of Grey” because of the orchestra’s direction and prevalence in the mix is among the greatest of the album's highlights, and the interplay between strings and guitars on "Mad Architect" showcase Septic Flesh letting the orchestra take the reins so that it might set the song's progressional path. No longer do the orchestrations feel tacked on, or more importantly, lacking in substance in the compositions. Septic Flesh have maximized the symphonic aspect of their music at least thrice-fold, and the results are powerful and driving.

Of course what's given to string beds and choirs is surely to be taken away from the 'metal' aspect of Septic Flesh's sound – or, once again, so it would seem on paper. Yet The Great Mass overcomes said theoretical loss of its head-banging gauge with the band’s sense of balance in managing its incorporation of styles on the album. The addition of a powerful production job and mixing from Peter Tagtgren also aids in the balance of orchestra and metal in that Vayenas' guitar tone and Antoniou' soul-gripping growl are given a powerful edge and max volume in the final mix. If there's one thing holding The Great Mass from a obtaining a classic title, though, it’s the ever so slight drop in quality that’s found in its middle section - "The Undead", in particular, with its relatively uneventful progression. But that’s really just a small flaw that does little to disrupt the flow or consistency of what Septic Flesh have unleashed upon all of us here with their best album yet. The Great Mass is everything that extreme symphonic metal bands have ever wished to make, yet have all too often fallen short: it’s majestic, orchestrated, undeniably powerful, and is actually a marvel in itself by not falling apart at its seams under the sheer weight of its creators' ambitions. What Septic Flesh have accomplished with The Great Mass is worth recognition and respect from all members of the metal community, traditional or not.



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user ratings (432)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Dormition (4)
If you’re at all familiar with and a fan of Communion, then you will be pleased to know The Great ...

Subrick (5)
The best Septic Flesh album to date, as well as the best album of 2011 so far....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Wizard
April 16th 2011


19403 Comments


Damn good review. Don't know if I liked their last album enough to warrant giving this a go. Might do so, you make it convincing.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

Ponton
Emeritus
April 16th 2011


5793 Comments


it puts communion to shame, and thanks karl

Wizard
April 16th 2011


19403 Comments


That's enough for me, gonna listen to this tomorrow and do some gardening in the rain to it.

Acanthus
April 16th 2011


9543 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hmm I really liked Communion, might have to go give these a listen. Review was amazingly detailed, yet fun to read; a wonderful style you have there sir.

Edit: Giving "The Vampire of Nazareth" a listen now and it's quite impressive.

Digging: Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

ctaxxxx
April 16th 2011


222 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Never heard of these guys before. Listening to now, and I gotta say the orchestral accompaniment is phenomenal.

Hawks
April 16th 2011


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Looking forward to listening to this one.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2011


16390 Comments


Big, grandious, and


Did you mean to say grandiose?

Fantastic review otherwise, but symphonic death metal seems like a pretty precarious thing to me.

The Great Mass is what many traditionalists of death metal will hate, ridicule, and are sure to make comical example of

Yeah I'm out.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

Departures
April 16th 2011


879 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have to hear this....

Ponton
Emeritus
April 16th 2011


5793 Comments


Glad some are enjying this and thanks kyle, but you never know ;)

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2011


16390 Comments


I may give it a shot if I feel adventurous.

Nomos
April 16th 2011


840 Comments


Some of the song titles are quite Lovecraftian. I am stoked.

ThyCrossAwaits
April 16th 2011


3052 Comments


This album is fucking phenomenal.

Nomos
April 16th 2011


840 Comments


I'm only a few songs in....and this is leagues better than their previous album. I'm not the biggest fan of orchestral work in metal (it usually amounts to cheese) but it's done rather tastefully here.


Haven't finished the album yet, but if it continues like it is now, it's fantastic.

Ponton
Emeritus
April 16th 2011


5793 Comments


4th song, "Oceans of Grey" Good sum of what you will hear on the album:

http://www.metalsucks.net/2011/04/14/exclusive-track-debut-septicfleshs-oceans-of-grey/

rasputin
April 16th 2011


14544 Comments


overproduced theatrical metal rated 4.5 by observer

i wonder if ill check this out

bloc
April 16th 2011


34852 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Glad to see positive reviews of this so far

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

ev0ken
April 16th 2011


586 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is another one of my most anticipated releases of 2011, i expect great things on this. cant wait to hear it

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2011


17213 Comments


good review, but this stuff is really not my forte.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

asdemonsburn
April 16th 2011


793 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hahahah, this album sucks. Absolutely no parts stood out, and the vocal production is a downgrade. Considering those were the two best aspects of Communion (memorabliity in songs and crushing vocals), this is easily a downgrade.

InFiction
April 16th 2011


3660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Can't wait to hear this. I thought Communion was fantastic, so to hear this is better really excites me.



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