"The Great Mass"

By Dr. Abner Mality

I first got acquainted with Greece's SepticFlesh in connection with their brilliant "Communion" album. That was the most effective combination of symphonic and death metal elements I had heard to that time. It was such a strong album that really the only band that had a chance of beating it was SepticFlesh themselves, with their next release.

And here it is. Is it superior to "Communion"? That's not an easy question for me to answer. I still think "Communion" is more instant and takes less time to digest than "The Great Mass"...the songs there make an immediate impact, while these ten new constructions need to be heard and mulled over several times. But when you do take the time to mull them over,it becomes pretty obvious that no band has ever merged orchestral sounds with extreme metal in such an ambitious way as SepticFlesh. This makes Therion's approach seem simplistic. For proof, listen to the song "Mad Architect"...which sounds exactly like what the title promises. The orchestration is nervous, off-kilter, like the mind of someone on the edge of insanity. It's a fantastic song as far as painting a mental picture goes. That's what SepticFlesh is aiming for and the moods of each song become more noticeable with repeated listening. There's the ponderous and somber heaviness of "Pyramid God", the quicker and catchier "Rising" with great clean vocals from Sotiris V, the complex and dream-like "Oceans of Grey" where the symphonic portion is just so totally epic.

The symphony indeed overwhelms and envelops the metal portion of the disc at several points, but if you love dark and huge sounding music, this should be no problem. Seth's death grunts predominate vocally and remind you this is indeed an extreme band. It's not four to the floor DM, that's for sure, but SepticFlesh's use of classical motifs is nothing less than impressive. "The Great Mass" is a record for the sophisticated metal mind.