Septicflesh - The Great Mass (2011)Release ID: 2558

Septicflesh - The Great Mass (2011) Cover
Rexorcist Rexorcist / January 10, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

Having been completely taken in with Communion, I had to check out more Septicflesh as quickly as possible.  It's rare that I find a metal band that makes a point of variety.  Even though many claim that Communion was their high point, I wanted to make that call for myself.  I might end up on a death metal kick, so I have to be careful, considering that I'm still trying to maintain a general balance of multiple genres on my albums log.  But Septicflesh did something legendary for me, and I wanted more.

I turned this on immediately after finishing their previous album, Communion, and suddenly I was blasted with a wave of heaviness and disturbing violins that were just loud enough to echo through the wall of sound created by the blasting.  I was face-punched with the words "what the fuck just happened" playing in my head constantly.  Here in The Vampire from Nazareth, the violins and the female backing singer are just fucking surreal.  It's like listening to death metal from another world.  This weirdness and heaviness combo is as present as ever in the more brutal and tribal title track.  It's slower and more dramatic than before, like it's a surreal ballad or a funeral dirge for a pharaoh.  And suddenly, it gets louder and louder until an army of zombies and spirits declares war on your earlobes.

I was taken by surprise when the mid-tempo behavior of songs like Narcissus and Sunlight/Moonlight came into play on Pyramid God, which takes the melodeath route.  Of course, halfway through it takes the surreal route again to make sure its main riff doesn't get overused.  This was the best decision as it helped the song feel more in place.  Five-Pointed Star is where the band shows off the three biggest angles of the album by switching between them: guitar-lead blasts, hyperactice symphonic melodies, and slower funeral dirge instrumentals.  But a complete different element arises in Oceans of Grey, where industrial repetition and even tremelo-picking take their place in between serene backdrops and djenty composition.  Unlike the other songs which were largely excellent pairings between the two focal genres that make up the band, Oceans of Grey is a catchy and yet ever-mutating experience of organized stability and metal chaos acting as two sides of the same coin.  Up to that point, I decided it was my favorite Septicflesh song, bearing a vibe that deeply reminded me of my own zombie horde from my debut novel, as cinematic metal played a heavy part in writing battle scenes.

Halfway through it, I was more than eager to see what The Undead Keep Dreaming held in store for me.  I was very happy with its dissonant / blackened guitar style switching with Devourment drumming paired with a deep-voiced male choir in the back.  This song's honestly hard to peg down genre-wise.  It's obviously prog, but it has elements of slam death, deathcore, black, symphonic, funeral doom, all switching through a spinning wheel of experimentation.  I suppose this is the song where Septicflesh proved they could literally do anything.  No matter what direction the band took in that song, I found myself eager for more and more directions and randomness.

We go back to accessibility on Rising, which is more riff-oriented.  The symphonic sounds take a big step backward to allow the guitarists to do the work, which I think is perfectly fine considering that the symphonic genre had a heavier say on this album already than it did on Communion.  And this song is also shorter, so while it fits the melodeath sound of Pyramid God, maintaining the album's balance, it doesn't feature the avant-garde second half which connected Pyramid God to the two before that, so it's a wecome, simple addition that's good while it lasts.  Apocalypse, however, goes back to those classical sirens and gothic weirdness that the album made a point of, and even feells like something out of a Tim Burton movie at the begginning.  It becomes a combination of extremities, symphonies and progginess much like half of Emperor's final album, Prometheus.  As that is my choice for the number 1 black metal album, I welcome this as ithis direction is both consistent with the album's behavior and reflects why I gave Emperor's album that position.  However, the experimental side of the violin interludes rings of Blut Aus Nord's recent album, Disharmonium Nahab, which is practically the scariest album I've ever heard and is also a welcome ingredient.

Next comes mad Architect, which features a wacky and maybe even dorky cabaret intro of piano and violin that proves that Septicflesh aren't afraid of the dorkier side of their chosen influence.  But the brutal and monotone blastbeats find their way into the song before combining with the dorky side on occasion, delivering something absolutely gothic in spirit and menacing in sound, as if I just walked into an abandoned circus where a clown is waiting to kill me.  So now their brilliance found its way into Pleasure Island.  As the lyrics represent going through a labyrinth, I find that this decision to go both menacing and quirky to be a perfectly artistic one.  And finally, we have Therianthropy, which starts Sotoris V. singing before we get to a good and energetic power-riff which leads us to the death metal we know the band for.

Most people favor Communion, and I know why: this album is less accessible than Communion, and as such it even rings a little of the avant-garde behavior we know Blut Aus Nord for.  But the way I see it, that's a very healthy step forward. Septicflesh improved on everything that made Communion so brilliant and special, being heavier than ever before, reaching heights in that vein that have rarely been met by a select few, and delivered a cinematic experience that no one had created before.  The most important thing, however, is that Septicflesh not only improved on their brutality, but found a stronger balance between their own death metal sound and the classical genre by relying on the spirit of war songs and funeral dirges.

Every one in a while I find that one album that makes me question my standards for a genre.  The Great Mass is the next album to do that.  I'm gonna cement this here as my new choice for my number one death metal album, and I may go back to Morbid Angel to see if I still feel the same way about them.



Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 7 | Reviews: 1


Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 6 | Reviews: 0


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 5


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 4

The Great Mass
The Horde
Death Metal

Symphonic Death Metal

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#4 in Rexorcist Top 20 Releases