Septic Flesh – Mystic Places of Dawn
Septic Flesh has always been on my “must check out” list, and from a recent glimpse into their Metal Archives page, it seems I have missed the boat entirely. 8 full-lengths and an arsenal of EP’s decorate this longstanding Greek institution’s career. Until the past 5 or so years, the Greek black/death metal scene never fully clicked with me as I often looked to Scandinavia and Finland for dark death metal. I know…. what a fool. I have been spending a considerable amount of cash these past few years scrambling to pick up the Greek classics and get back on track. And what a journey this has been. The Greek vibe is one built upon atypical, and truly Dark (note the capital “D”) harmonies and an aura that feels like a humid atmosphere falling down around you, which gives titles like “His Majesty at the Swamp” a new meaning. Septic Flesh’s latest long player, Mystic Places of Dawn, falls into that ancient dark death category perfectly, since this is a reissue of their 94 full-length debut, including the Temple of the Lost Race EP (1991) as bonus tracks. When I started this review, I didn’t realize this was a reissue as I rarely look at the bio info, so having initially went off on how great it is that this band has chosen to defy the modern metal trappings of this era, and come out with an album that wasn’t perfect recording wise, in favor of a 1992 sound, I was surprised to discover that this was indeed their debut, recorded in ’94, which in hindsight… really makes sense. Having now entered into this bands world the at the proper starting point, the beginning, it is clear that Septic Flesh embraced the aesthetic of their homeland, a sound they had a definite hand at sculpting. Mystic Places of Dawn perpetuates that old atmosphere to flow in and enchant the bulk of this material. The guitar melodies are full of emotion, harmonically layered and unique. Tracks like “Crescent Moon” permeate with a mournful vibe that plods along with the bleak impact of doom, yet there’s a heavy and deadly edge to it that screams for death (metal). There are no pretty vocals on this album, which is also a victorious plus in my win column, rather allowing subtle creepy synth lines and the occasional violin to strengthen the darkness spun so effortlessly throughout this album. Guttural and unique vocals intensify the depth and despair within this material, giving the early works of bands like My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost (both eternal classics for sure) a run for their money. The Temple of the Lost Race EP is this bands true first, non demo release and finds the band operating with noticeably less mystic atmosphere in favor of quicker material, but the songs are solid and just as advanced and mature coming from a then young band. The addition of this material makes this package even more valuable to those of you out there like myself, who initially missed the boat to Athens. A new version of an old album is nice to bring one up to speed on material initially overlooked, but if you’re like me, you probably prefer the original art and pressing should it turn up cheapish on ebay. I know… fat chance, but at least we can thank the fine folks at Season of Mist for another shot at this powerful and moving slab of eerie Greek art. Believe me…. I’m scrambling to further discover Septic Flesh’s extensive discography. -Marty
Season of Mist
~ by martyworm on January 23, 2013.