|Review: Septicflesh - Communion|
Label: Season of Mist
Year released: 2008
Genre: Death Metal
Review online: January 10, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Rated 4/5 (80%) (6 Votes)
Septicflesh have got to be one of the strangest bands in Metal. Starting out as stalwarts of the Greek scene, they earned themselves a place as legends thanks to an eclectic sound that took the base of the Greek style and mixed in heavy symphonic elements and a menagerie of other influences so broad that even today people fervently debate what genre they technically fall under. They became less esoteric over time, opting for a more technical and glossy sound around Revolution DNA, but they still retained that inimitable core that always defined them, and even released one last masterwork in Sumerian Daemons before disbanding in 2003. They came back five years later with this album and further refined the more modern and intricate aspects of their sound, which on the one hand served as the first full step in their descent into mediocrity, but on the other stands as a damn solid album anyway.
Communion is kind of difficult to write about, both because it's a strange and technical release that only a band like Septicflesh could make and because it's all over the place in terms of quality. Opener "Lovecraft's Dream" shows everything both good and bad about this album: tight, aggressive riffing, demonic howls that sound as good as they did in the '90s, stunning melodic work, and disjointed songwriting that overloads the compositions to the breaking point. This isn't helped by the orchestrations, which were once a vital component of their sound, but here they tend to be distracting and hold back the finer moments of the album. There are places where they work some of their old magic, as on "Anubis", "Sangreal", and the gorgeous "Sunlight Moonlight", but we also get songs like "Babel's Gate" and "Persepolis" which are choppy and confused, making them a chore to listen to even with the excellent guitar work. The lowlight of the album, however, is easily the title track which, on top of being a disjointed mess, also boasts choirs that—and I do not exaggerate here—sound like the Meow Mix theme song (I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that never aired in Greece).
That all comes across very harshly, and I suppose I am being hard on this album, but despite my issues I do find myself liking it quite a bit. It generally lacks the occult vibes that made albums like Ophidian Wheel stand out as superior, and has a lot of fat that could have been trimmed out, but it still shows enough ferocity and complexity to sail past a lot of the bloat that would begin dragging the band down shortly after. If you're new to the band, I'd say this is a good stopping point in your journey, as it really was all downhill from here.
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