Septic Flesh

Picture of Septic Flesh

Ophidian Wheel

Septic Flesh - Ophidian Wheel ©1997 Holy Records
1. The Future Belongs To The Brave
2. The Ophidian Wheel
3. Phallic Litanies
4. Razor Blades Of Guilt
5. Tartarus
6. On The Topmost Step Of The Earth
7. Microcosmos
8. Geometry In Static
9. Shamanic Rite
10. Heaven Below
11. Enchantment

Yes, I do have some gripes about this band and this album. Having heard plenty of accolades from the peanut gallery on the internet, I decided to drop the bucks for this album at the used CD store, probably denying myself a better choice for an album while there. (I'm sure I could have gotten an old Genesis CD instead and been happier.) After a few listens I just have to throw in the towel and say Ophidian Wheel is frankly a snoozer. Each song is an exercise in figuring out how to use my fast forward button in hopes the next song is more interesting. This exercise is repeated eleven times before I find myself at the CD's end.

Septic Flesh can been viewed as a cross between old school doom metal, Theatre of Tragedy and mid-period Rotting Christ (particularly Thy Mighty Contract). The band utilizes the death grunts mixed with the female soprano as is the common method of the latter 90s, as well as a mixture of chugging death metal riffs or melodic high end leads. On occasion these melodic guitar lines are interesting - well, for a bit, until the play the bit over and over and over until you can't take it anymore. There are some occasional keyboard interludes but nothing particularly special. I have to report that the male death vocals are often tedious and detract from the music, rather than adding much to it. The female vocals are expected and performed with efficiency, but not overwhelming enthusiasm. The aggravating part of this album is that the occasional ear catching bit is lost amidst all the genre trappings. The exotic vocals in "Shamanic Rite" are definitely notable, but the song itself doesn't really hold up the property value around it.

My biggest gripe is that I feel like I've heard all this before in different (but similar bands) and that Septic Flesh is just trotting in place on the same gerbil cage running wheel. Given the overdose of bands in this style, it only stands to reason that hearing yet another album of the same ilk is not going to impress me very much. Had Ophidian Wheel not come across so darned pedestrian, I might have kinder things to say about it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2000

Back to top 

A Fallen Temple

Septic Flesh - A Fallen Temple ©1998 Holy Records
1. The Brotherhood Of The Fallen Knights
2. The Eldest Cosmonaut
3. Marble Smiling Face
4. Underworld- Act 1
5. The Temple Of The Lost Race
6. The Crypt
7. Setting Of The Two Suns
8. Erebus
9. Underworld- Act 2
10. The Eldest Cosmonaut (Dark Version)

A Fallen Temple is not so much an album as a compilation, bringing together a series of classic Septic Flesh tracks (from their primordial Temple of the Lost Race MCD), pseudo-classical symphonic pieces, and three wicked newer tracks. The old MCD tracks are decent, albeit primitive, nostalgia trips for the traditional Septic Flesh fans - essentially an atmospheric renovation of the band's early death metal sound. The more contemporary tracks are among Septic Flesh's best, but are not unfortunately representative of the sound found on the official follow-up, Revolution DNA. These tracks are essentially more developed, slightly catchier songs in the same vein as those found on Ophidian Wheel, each somewhat more precise and focused than their more primitive precursors.

Songs such as "The Brotherhood of the Fallen Knights" and "Marble Smiling Face" both emphasize the band's penchant for great heavy metal hooks, slick song writing, and clean guitar tone ambiance; the choruses are more catchy than usual, usually alternating between growls and warm, subdued singing. "The Eldest Cosmonaut", on the other hand, well illustrates Septic Flesh's more trance inducing, ethereal tendencies, with repetitious death riffing, drifting percussion (almost reminiscent of a hip hop backbeat), a traditionally Mediterranean sounding melody line played in a crisp guitar tone (not that far off from something the Fields of Nephilim might have written in their heyday), and the edgy soprano wailing of sometimes band member, Natalie Rassoulis. This track is the best on the album, a great mixture of nervous energy and relaxed repetition, and highly recommended to the stoner finally bored of Sleep's Jerusalem.

The pseudo-classical tracks, performed on keyboard to mixed effect, are meandering affairs. The more "Mediterranean" bits, as well as the musical theatre sections, are a welcomed change of pace in the deluge of synthesized symphonic endeavors plaguing the scene nowadays. But the overall compositions are definitely lacking in originality, oomph, and warmth, sounding very sterile and uneven. Given the relative pointlessness of the elder tracks and the keyboard masturbation, the listener is left with three very good tracks. The Septic Flesh fan will, of course, have to purchase the album; the three excellent songs make it worth it. I'd recommend everyone else to hit Napster and then decide if the album's worth your money.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 04/2001

Back to top