Review Summary: A natural progression from the band's last two albums, "Titan" takes Septicflesh's core sound into uncharted territory, making for one of the year's finer releases.
Ever since Septicflesh reunited in 2007 and changed their name by simply not keeping two words (which are often synonymous with death metal) separate, the band have opted for a musical formula which has slowly but surely weaved its way deep into the heart of the core Septicflesh sound. This musical formula was monumental enough with the career-defining Communion
, and even let the band take mammoth-sized steps into victory with The great Mass
, but the latest album, appropriately titled Titan
, really takes things seriously and goes for the fully-fledged orchestral extreme metal assault. Those last few words are quite a mouthful, sure, but it's just about the simplest way of describing Septicflesh's currently innovative sound, which few bands can even try to emulate.
takes things up more than a few notches. With various songs neck-deep in orchestral power and the underlying existence of extreme metal, the transition between the two musical movements has never been fresher and more fluent in Septicflesh's songwriting. Opener “War in Heaven” is a victorious assault on the ears, dark-tinged choral chants breathing into the death metal elements and consequently making for an extremely emotional affair. It's the sort of thing which Septicflesh is now well-renowned for, but “War in Heaven” is not the only example of how well the band can pull this off. The menacing title track and lengthy, slow-moving opus “Prometheus” both display this well-balanced fusion of symphonic power and metallic energy, and it's almost as if Septicflesh can do no better. There is simply no better way to show that the band are in a world completely of their own.
That said, the best thing about the album is unfortunately one of the worst too. I don't mean that statement to make me out as a despicable nit-picker, but the main flaw with Titan
is staring people in the face. Septicflesh, as hard as they try, just overdo things a bit, and it affects more than just a few songs. On “Prometheus”, where the band have obviously spent copious amounts of time making everything as epic as they could ever be, the orchestral arrangements are taken to a new level, and it's almost like the biggest war in the universe is happening right before your very eyes. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but when you get used to these symphonic elements blowing up in your face, it can start to get a little tedious. This problem affects the last couple of songs more than anywhere else on Titan
, but for those who simply miss the band's rawer early years, where blastbeat-ridden songs were much more prominent than tinkling keyboards and harmonic string arrangements, this will come as a little disappointment. And that's the sole reason why “Ground Zero” and “The first Immortal” aren't any more effective than they should have been.
Full respect to the band though, because they certainly know how to pen a memorable song. The violent likes of “Order of Dracul” and the mischievous “Burn” are the most straightforward songs on the album, but that's only because the structures are based around thunderous riffs and ear-shattering drum work. It's the heart and soul of every perfect Septicflesh tune, the way in which extreme metal manifests itself easily into the band's free-flowing rhythm. Another bonus for the band's latest album is the vocal delivery, which isn't always as effective as it needs to be. Despite the clean vocals being a little mundane at times (“Burn” and “Dogma”), the most interesting aspect of the vocal range is Vayenas' excellent roars, which are the extra bit of spice in every song on Titan
. He can really shake a song into a new level of power, and that's essentially why Septicflesh wouldn't be as promising as an instrumental band. Not to say that the band's instrumental abilities aren't excellent, but the vocals are a bonus element to an already well-refined musical formula.
is one of 2014's finer extreme metal releases, and that's no lie. Though it sometimes trips itself up by attempting to tread more dangerous ground in the form of full-fledged orchestral assaults, what Septicflesh have crafted here is the perfect progression with their core sound. It may not necessarily click with you for the first few listens, but Septicflesh's ninth release confirms them as a band completely in a world of their own, undisturbed and for the most part, unmatched.