Review Summary: Do not finish your AOTY lists yet
There was a band by the name of Rishloo, they weren’t big, someone might even say they were washed out version of Tool, but their music was clever, profound, and meaningful. They’ve released four albums that gathered much acclaim from critics, but didn’t amount to much, the band disappeared. There was a band by the name of Oceansize, they weren’t big, someone might even say they were washed out version of Radiohead, but their music was clever, profound, and meaningful. They’ve released four albums that gathered much acclaim from critics, but didn’t amount to much, the band broke up. There is a band by the name of Septa, they aren’t big, someone might even say they are washed out version of Deftones, but their music is clever, profound, and meaningful. They’ve released four albums that gathered much acclaim from critics, but didn’t amount to much, and if we don’t get them noticed they will surely disband too.
The comparisons that were drawn are not entirely inaccurate, but in this case may not be further from the truth. Band’s bio on Facebook states the following: Sounds like Deftones if they were fronted by Mike Patton. And to this point it was kind of true, but after the release of an album with the bizarre and long title Bitten By The Serpent Of The Kingdom Of The Spirit such statement no longer does Septa any honor. The signature sound of Deftones is nowhere to be found, maybe in some rare occasions of nu metal bursts in Pogroms or atmospheric vast riffs of the closing track, and Patton’s presence is almost gone as well. Seems that Eugene has abandoned all the craziness of his vocal range and deep croons for a more subtle and melodic approach to his singing duties, a bold move for the band with not that big of a following, but admirable nevertheless. And overall sound of the record might shock those who were familiar with Septa’s previous works: it’s definitely more progressive on a verge of a real prog rock, it’s visibly less hardcore almost with no harsh vocals in sight, and it is by far much more cohesive and well throughout along with every stylistic detour done with grace and meaning to it. As for as the songs go they are clearly divided into two parts with a post-rock short epic Tannhauser Gate splitting it right in the middle.
So the first part starts with a massive opener Emet: Truth that showcases all the transformations that band took in these three years since Sounds Like Murder was released. It’s very confident and upbeat by its nature, and showcases the creation of album’s protagonist - Golem. It is obvious from the artwork and tracklist that Bitten By The Serpent is based on Jewish myths of creature created from clay and metal that was brought in this world to serve and protect, but the conflicting questions of purpose and fate are raised through the whole record. We see him growing up in Clay Boy while questioning his own free will in the catchiest chorus on the album, then he serves as a protector in Pogroms amidst the heaviest breakdowns, and finally he is disappointed in humanity for good in New Motive Power, the most theatrical song of all. These songs are complex and unorthodoxly structured with vocals being a centrepiece highlighted by a top notch production and performance full of emotions and highest notes Eugene is capable of. I could list bands that bear some resemblance of what is going on in the first half of the record, but it wouldn’t be fair, this is a music of its own, and these guys were developing their sound for three efforts prior to this, and while it still can be nitpicked for Mastodon, Leprous, or even Opeth, any similarities would be very stretchy and just plain unnecessary. It becomes even more obvious on fore mentioned Tannhauser Gate, one can hear Mogwai here, and I say it’s an improved version of Supercell from the previous album, that ends with a heartbreaking chorus reciting last words of a replicant from the original Blade Runner movie.
Then we arrive to a much stranger and all over the place second half. It starts with lead single with an addition of a mesmerising piano driven piece 1915 that once again proves lead singer’s strengthened vocal abilities. Sudden and vicious Tin Man concludes the golem-themed quadrology with a solid punch of guttural growls and implacable guitar tone. ‘And in the end everything that we do will become everything that we’ve done’ the last line concludes the fatality of this record and it goes into acoustic piece with a soft harmonica playing in the background. But it’s not the end yet, we have a six-minute heavily arpeggiated closer ending this album on an uncertain note. Even after my tenth spin my main concern remained the same: it’s too short as an album itself and each song individually, Golem’s tale seems huge in its contents, but belittled by its execution. Most of the songs are so humble in their length that they almost feel underdeveloped, I can’t help myself but dream about what would Mars Volta do with such concept, how would they turn each song into a grandiose opuses and help the narration from being cramped inside what is perceived as a half an hour collection of songs. Sometimes a little bit of over the roof ambition won’t hurt.
I remember reviewing The Lover, their first record, about six years ago, and thinking of them as an alternative rock band resembling 30 Seconds To Mars, I’m happy to say that I was wrong all along. Septa is much bigger, and tends to grow with each step they take. If you decipher the lyrics of their fourth album you may come to the same conclusion as I did: it’s about climate change and an unstoppable force of destruction that is humankind. It serves its purpose as a messenger, a transmitter of an undeniable truth that we’ll eventually go extinct and pretty soon. To envelope something that deep into a relatively short album is not an easy task, Septa managed to succeed, now all you have to do is to listen.