Septicflesh - Codex Omega album review
Greece’s epic death metallers power up the pomp
The word ‘epic’ has been somewhat devalued, but Septicflesh are here to reclaim it. Again. Since their comeback record, Communion, in 2008, the Greeks have sprawled atop the throne of symphonic DM; they stumbled with 2014’s Titan, but Codex Omega steadies them. Septicflesh have never sounded so massive. Jens Bogren’s production makes them crisper than winter on Hoth, and new drummer Kerim Lechner earns his stripes at the front of the mix. The record is arguably their most unsettling to date – the heinously catchy hooks dragged from Seth Siro Anton’s warped larynx are nasty as hell, yet it’s the orchestration that makes Codex Omega such a terrifying spectacle. It’s cinematic and haunting; the craft invested in the non-metal aspects pays dividends, resulting in a fanfare embellishing their thickened, relentless chug without it ever feeling cheesy. Opener Dante’s Inferno is a prime example; the shout-along refrain is instantaneous, pulling those gorgeous strings into Seth’s unyielding screams. Portrait Of A Headless Man is equally OTT, closing with a section that’s surely Gangsta’s Paradise being tooted from Hell. Then there’s Dark Art, its piano trumping any atmosphere Septicflesh attempted on their early albums. When the brass and choirs wrap around Sotiris Anunnaki V’s clean vocals in the chorus, descending into disarray, it’s what extreme, gothic metal should sound like in 2017. For years, Septicflesh have enjoyed the exclusivity of not sounding like anyone else. They no longer nick their best tricks from Paradise Lost, and thanks to the music’s unique genesis – guitarist Christos Antoniou penning the orchestration first, the band following suit – this effort exudes a cinematic prowess nobody should even bother trying to equal. It begs the question, with those Amon Amarth-worthy vocal melodies on Trinity: why the fuck aren’t Septicflesh everyone’s favourite death metal band?