Septicflesh – Modern Primitive – Album Review

Artist: Septicflesh

Album Title: Modern Primitive

Label: Nuclear Blast

Date of Release: 20 May 2022

Over the years, the symphonic death metal arena has become ever-more popular and crowded. However, unlike some of the genres of heavy music, it tends to be frequented by a higher proportion of very high-quality bands. Names like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Ex Deo, MaYaN, and others all spring to mind quickly and easily, and rightly so based on their output in years gone by. The other name that leaps up is Septicflesh, the Athens-based stalwarts of the genre, well into their third decade of existence.

In the 31 years since the release of their ‘Forgotten Path’ demo, the Greek quintet have released ten full-length studio albums, a couple of Eps, a handful of demos, a live album and the odd compilation. They briefly split in 2003 but this hiatus only lasted four years in total, less time than it has taken for their eleventh album to materialise since ‘Codex Omega’ back in 2017. But now, in 2022, we have ‘Modern Primitive’ in our grasp.

What’s quite remarkable in this day and age of revolving line-ups and personnel changes, is that Septicflesh still boast a trio within their ranks that have been around since the formation of the band. Bassist and growler Spiros Antoniou, guitarist and orchestrations expert Christos Antoniou, and guitarist and clean vocalist Sotiris Anunnaki V all remain integral to the Septicflesh cause. They are joined by drummer Kerim ‘Krimh’ Lechner who has been in the fold for eight years, as well as the only newcomer, guitarist Psychon, who joined the ranks this year.

With such an experienced core to the band, one concern could be that of complacency – heaven knows it has been the downfall of others in the past. However, on the basis of ‘Modern Primitive’, it would appear that these guys are as hungry and dedicated to their art as ever. In fact, it takes no time at all to be given demonstrable evidence of this thanks to the opening track, ‘The Collector’. A gentle Middle Eastern melody is played out on an acoustic guitar for a short time, supported by some quiet cinematic orchestration, before the song literally explodes. The riffs are gigantic, the drumming is thunderous, and the orchestration is utterly menacing, creating an intimidating soundtrack. The song flits between this heavy approach and quieter sections akin to the intro, whilst a good dollop of elegant melody is introduced carefully at points just to accent the more bombastic sections. I love the atmosphere and the sense of mysticism that’s created straight off the bat, setting up the rest of the album nicely, but setting the bar very high indeed in the process.

I’m not quite so enamoured with the follow-up, ‘Hierophant’, even though it is a gargantuan monster of a song that really delivers on the death metal element of Septicflesh’s sound. The varied clean and growled vocals are great, as are the bulldozing sections of pummelling heaviness. However, it lacks just a little in the memorability stakes and when it ends, I’m not filled with disappointment.

Having taken my time to consider this, I have finally concluded that it’s not because it’s not a good song, it’s just that there are so many excellent moments littered within ‘Modern Primitive’, that this song gets a little lost and left behind in my opinion.

To underline this point further, there are a number of potential candidates for my favourite track on this album, starting with the fabulous ‘Self Eater’. It opens with real bombast and bruising attack, the orchestration crawling all over the song but to great effect. There’s an ebb and flow that, in the quieter sections, allows the Libro Coro children’s choir and a lone Middle Eastern voice to add a sense of added drama, whilst the song literally bursts at the seams when the epic melodies take centre stage in the latter stages. If there was to be a re-defining of the word ‘epic’, this song could easily be it.

But then, equally as compelling is ‘Neuromancer’, another composition that opens with clean guitars and a Middle Eastern flavour to it. The ensuing riffs are slow, but heavy as hell and stomp all over our ears with sadistic glee. The pace picks up at points, with drums and bass laying down a powerful framework upon which to build. The melodies hit, and they hit hard too, full of glorious rousing sentiment, bathed in wonderful orchestration. I just love the pronounced juxtaposition between the stomping heaviness and soaring melodies found on this song, especially when embellished with the clean vocals towards the end which signals a great mini crescendo.

Other massive highlights include ‘Coming Storm’ which goes all out in the symphonic stakes – the orchestration is enormous, and it only adds a sense of drama and power to an already strong track that blasts along at a great tempo. The quiet section that hits in the final quarter is inspired; both melodic and atmospheric, it features clean picked guitars and The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and then builds to an almighty final minute or so. Then there’s ‘Desert Throne’ which is equally as intense, albeit in a slightly more melodic and anthemic manner. The song features both clean and growled vocals alongside what could arguably be described as the most immediate and stunning chorus melody anywhere on this album. It’s huge.

The remainder of the album, including the fantastic title track, isn’t bad either for that matter, meaning that 38 minutes or so flies by in the blink of an eye. I’ve not kept a close enough ear on Septicflesh over the years to make a more definitive comment, but ‘Modern Primitive’ has to be one of the most accomplished records of their lengthy career. I certainly can’t remember ever being this highly entertained in such a consistent manner as with this record that’s for sure. As a result, ‘Modern Primitive’ comes with a very high recommendation, particularly if you enjoy heavy music that’s also opulent, majestic, and full of drama and intensity. In my mind, I don’t think Septicflesh have ever sounded quite this good.

The Score of Much Metal: 91%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses

Drift Into Black – Earthtorn

Spheric Universe Experience – Back Home

Outshine – The Awakening

Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones

Zero Hour – Agenda 21

Scitalis – Doomed Before Time

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability

Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

OU – One

Haunter – Discarnate Ails

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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