Review Summary: Modern>Primitive
It’s probably fair to point out just how crowded the metal genre has become as we move into the new decade. For all the genre’s creativity and efforts to push away from the norm, there’s a certain stagnation hitting most, if not all of the subgenres. Septicflesh themselves have always been one to push away from the grain. Since the early nineties this Greek-born act have been at the threshing of symphonic compositions and the more traditional death metal to which the genre has become known (giving loose precedence for acts like Fleshgod Apocalypse for example). Thinking more immediately however, Septicflesh’s Modern Primitive
stands at a precipice of reclaiming a foothold on a genre and moving forwards.
Let me explain. Modern Primitive
took five years to meet fruition. It’s a sizable gap, but not unheard of. What I’m trying to get across is the fact that Modern Primitive
is hardly a flash in a pan, nor is it crippled by years of unending hype where both expectation and reality run parallel, never to meet. As such, Septicflesh’s latest export both reaffirms the group’s past and looks to the future. A broader hint to the music to come while keeping true to the soundscapes that launched them onto stardom. For Modern Primitive
is unrestrainedly cinematic in nature, unabashed within their symphonic niche. “The Collector'' swiftly adjusts from foreboding acoustic climes, into a sauntering sonic devastation. Riffs launch with magnitude, symphonic melodies rounding out the song’s gruffer edges. “Hierophant” continues the album’s atmospheric trajectory. Bombastic chords swell as the group’s symphonic leanings call and respond like an ebbing tide. “Hierophant” stomps along, taking with it the main musical riff and motif throughout its duration whilst later tracks, such as “Coming Storm” truly takes a shape of its own. The track winds its way from section to section, moments of dizzying apprehension broken only by the enchanting siren hewn between the track’s more heavier moments. As always, the album’s symphonic element takes a larger atmospheric scope, ready to paint a picture with ethereal crescendos and bridges.
Even as the record progresses to its more resolute chapters, Modern Primitive
begins to falter, even if so only slightly. “A Desert Throne” is too hook driven and rambling, somehow less interesting than the counterparts before it. Ideas also seem to peter out on the record’s title track, and the reliance (or over indulgence) in symphonic parts earmarks a record that would have benefitted from some lighter trimming or more inspirational musicianship. Be that as it may, the tendency to round out any idea that’s not symphonic with rhythmic chugging doesn’t do Septicflesh any favours this time around. Sure, we could argue the point that Modern Primitive
loosely rehashes the same frames found in past records (namely that of Titan
and Codex Omega
before it), but with a five year gap in mind, Modern Primitive
deserves a more rounded, successful conclusion.
Even as I play this over multiple times I can’t help but find the record’s middle chapters more appealing in every sense. Modern Primitive
may well rehearse the same ground that came before it, but they also manage to run into a familiar lack of energy as the album begins to close. Yes, there’s some really great tracks to be found here, some of which are worth a mention in regards to the best Septicflesh have ever recorded. The rest? Well, there’s a middling feeling here that just can’t be dismissed. No doubt Septicflesh are masters of their symphonic craft, but they also need their time on the bench to reflect, rest and improve on the formula.