The Pitch: Season of Mist and Prosthetic Records bring us the latest album from Greece's premiere symphonic death metal band, Septicflesh. "Although the biblical omega marks the end, Septicflesh on the contrary are reaching their current peak with 'Codex Omega', an album that clearly witnesses the Greek visionaries having come to maturity and expert craftsmanship in every sense." FFO: Dimmu Borgir, Rotting Christ, Fleshgod Apocalypse
What I Like: For me, it's around track 3 that this album starts to kick into high gear. Septicflesh have been perhaps my favorite extreme symphonic band for some time now, and they are still capable of showing why. With their continued mastery of classical orchestration, tracks like "Portrait of a Headless Man" really burrow into the mind and stir the imagination. Furthermore, there are a few new tricks in this department in the form of traditional Eastern instruments. These are all welcome additions that really stood out for a band that has been following a similar formula for a few albums now.
As for the other elements that make Septicflesh the heavy, death metal machine it has been for almost 3 decades now, they're all still there. The blackened guitar chords boom almost as much as the brass section, but also deliver the usual effects-laden gothic sounding leads. Similarly, the vocals alternate between Spiros' trademark demonic death roar and Sotiris' equally gothic cleans. Both deliver in top form amidst the swelling choral orchestrations and pummeling drums. Largely, this is the epic philharmonic of impending doom that we've come to expect from a collection of talented writers and performers.
Critiques: Maybe it's just my imagination, but the production doesn't always seem as fully realized as on previous albums. The last four outings have had a really expansive quality, but Codex Omega sometimes feels more confined to a traditional studio space. I'm also not finding myself as consistently dominated by these tracks. The opening track "Dante's Inferno" leaves me disinterested relative to past singles and even my top picks have a few riffs that feel recycled. I was one of seemingly few people who really loved Titan despite the critical complaints. That album. along with The Great Mass are start to finish masterpieces that gripped me from the very first time I heard them; and unfortunately my reaction to this new one hasn't been the same.
The Verdict: It's possible that Codex Omega is more of a grower, but given my immediate reactions to Septicflesh's other material I feel confident in saying that this is not their finest effort. There are many strengths across the album's runtime, especially in the larger orchestrations and performances, however the songs just don't feel as consistently memorable. Whether this is due to songwriting choices or production problems isn't entirely clear. In any case, I still feel good about giving the final product an overall B- score given that their top releases to fall into the 9-10/10 range. Get it today. I'll be picking up a copy after work.
Flight's Fav's: Portrait of a Headless Man, Martyr, The Gospels of Fear
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