Review: Septicflesh – The Great Mass



In 2008, 18 years after their formation, Septicflesh elevated themselves to one of Greece’s hottest metallic exports. Communion, their first release since reuniting following a four-year hiatus, was a masterpiece, boasting nine tracks of well-polished imperial death metal that blew its competitors from Sweden and Poland out of the water. So The Great Mass, their follow-up, seemed set to raise the standard even higher, especially when the band announced Hypocrisy mastermind Peter Tägtgren as their producer. Unfortunately, this Athenian quartet has overdone it on their latest full-length, creating an album that often sounds like a parody of itself.

The first track, “The Vampire From Nazareth,” bodes poorly—immediately, one wonders if Septicflesh are biting a little hard on Cradle of Filth (no vampiric pun intended). Follow-up tracks “A Great Mass Of Death” and “Pyramid God” only further such suspicions, pummeling listeners with one keyboard-overlaid guitar moan after another. Wailing Mediterranean-style female vocals add spicy textures to the album, but are lost in vast deserts of chugging guitars and double-bass rolls. On Communion, vocalists Spiros Antoniou and Sotiris Vayenas used their harsh/clean vocal dichotomy to craft hooks worthy of a fist in the air, but on tracks like “The Undead Keep Dreaming,” there is nothing special for the listener to hold onto. The album closes as underwhelmingly as it begins.

In all fairness, Septicflesh have obviously worked their asses off on this record. Every song is expertly arranged, and some, especially the straightforward “Rising,” showcase the band’s original sense of tone and atmosphere. But overall, The Great Mass is as its title suggests—one uniform, unwieldy lump of ultimately numbing death metal.

  • Tilde

    What does Revolver know about real metal? The Great Mass is an astounding album. Idiot. Crawl back to the mall and the Hot Topic you love and leave real metal alone. Damn fool probably thinks SlipkNOT and Mushroomhead are the heaviest bands ever.

  • BadReviewCritic

    Got to be honest, I disagree with the bulk of this review, primarily since the reviewer appears to lack ears. At least, clearly has some audial impairment that results in at most 2 mediocre album reviews a month. Yet this diatribe is clearly your most damning.

    Any possible comparisons with Cradle of Filth (and you made yourself look daft with that reference) – quickly disappear after the first few seconds of the opening track. If anything, this album has more Amon Amarth in it that CoF, and even that’s a statement skating on thin ice. To insinuate that this is pushed further by Pyramid God and A Great Mass of Death? I bet you heard one riff that sounded remotely CoF on your first play and decided that was that – anybody with functioning ears and the willingness to give an album adequate listening time before bodging together an opinion could indicate otherwise, but it’s a sorry state of affairs when anything remotely gothic is instantly a CoF clone and only leads me to believe you’re not astute enough to tell the difference.

    You barely mentioned the EXCEPTIONALLY well arranged orchestra melodies that in comparison with “bigger” symphonic bands like Dimmu, blows them out of the water. You forgot to mention thunderous drumming, overflowing with intelligent fills. Vocals now inherently more prominent that on Communion, a step up from where they often were lost before. And yes, the guitars are chugging – but the orchestration is as such that there’s always intricacies to hear somewhere from the album. Played on a quality sound system, and you’ll hear something new every time. THAT is exciting from an album.

    Oh, and then you COMPLETELY ignored Mad Architect, which is a song so full of character that I fear my CD player is conspiring to steal me off into the night and have its filthy way with me.

    And after this dire review? This website plugs a competition for a guitar on the site? “Thanks guys, your album was sh*t and sounded like CoF but can we have a guitar to give away kthx?”.

    I understand reviews are opinionated, and for this review there are hundreds out there recognising a job well done – but instead of formulating a coherent argument as to why this album isn’t anything special, you robbed it of that, and robbed your review of credibility by barely scratching the surface. Partially because the reviews on this website are extensively dumbed down and shortened (says something about target audience) so maybe you had something you wanted to say but couldn’t. I mean, 2 and a half paragraphs is not a review by any standards, especially when 80% of the first paragraph is filler introduction you could’ve paraphrased from wikipedia. To be frank, a review which requires such little effort to be written and published does the metal community and genre a disservice. I probably spent more time writing this than you did listening to the album and writing your review combined.

    Poor show. But maybe Tilde (below me) does have a point given the latest album reviews on this site are for a post-hardcore (read emo) and metalcore band respectively.

  • Insidethegrave

    I’m an old school death metal fan and I had a hard time listening to this record, as soon as the album ended I realized I’m not as open minded as I claimed to be (by the way, I only listen to death metal or death metal related bands or genres death/thrash, death/black, death/doom, death/grind,etc).

    When I heard a couple of friends were talking about a new Septicflesh album I ordered it and gave it a try, I listened to the first 2 records of the band back in 1999 and was blown by the fresh ideas, but back to this new record..

    The artwork is good and the package (I bought the LP edition) was really good, some sort of metalic fold which looked amazing with the colors and cover art.

    About the music, well.., I was expecting something a bit more “death metal” in the strings and drums department. No memorable or groove riffs, no solid interesting drums, just plain fast riffs and basic drums going with the orchestra.

    The vocals, production and arrangemts are amazing, but I wouldn’t call this a death metal album in any way. This is a symphonic/atmospherical metal album, with a death metal production.

    The Great Mass is not a bad album, it’s just not a purist death metal album. So if you’re into old school death metal you might also have a hard time trying to digest this album. If you’re more into the Behemoth-Belphegor (extreme music) and you wanted to hear them play with a.symphonic orchestra here’s your chance.