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Septicflesh: Esoptron

Revisiting things that are considered classic or important has certain attendant challenges. Take, for example, watching a film like the original Dirty Harry. To current audiences, this film may be hard to see in the same way as its original audience did. After all, it was influential enough in its day that it's effectively been remade or rethought with each new attempt to make a crime film that features a tough-as-nails anti hero at the center of the action. That doesn't mean that fans of the genre can't enjoy the original, only that they may have a hard time separating their experience from the broader influence of the original.

I mention Dirty Harry in this setting only because Septicflesh's Esoptron is a reissue of an album that originally came out in 1994. I don't know how widespread its original audience was, but I do know that the album has come to be seen as important, both in the development of Septicflesh's own music and in the general expansion of the death metal sound. Fortunately, this album, like the original Dirty Harry, stands on its own as a solid recording, a tribute to the expanding possibilities of death metal. Nevertheless, some fans may want to keep in mind that a portion of developments in extreme music since 1994 may come from these guys.

Fans of the original album will immediately note that this one has a brand new cover; instead of the demonic figures of the original, this cover features the drawing of a human head combined with some kind of early mechanical apparatus. The cover isn't quite as edgy as the original and conveys more a sense of stability than of rebellion. Still, it's a pretty cool image.

Musically, the album is quite a bit of fun. The twin guitar harmonies are always tight and melodic and the music has the technical richness many fans love about death metal. But, this album is something more than a conventional death metal album. For much of the time, it borders on an atmospheric work played in a kind of Gothic mood. Sometimes, especially in tracks like "Narcissism" but also in "Breaking the Inner Seal" and "Astral Sea," it ventures into more uncanny musical experiments that have no obvious sense of direction or purpose. "Narcissism," the oddest track of the bunch, represents an interesting attempt to stretch the possibilities of atmospheric death metal. Vocal duties, mostly performed by Spiros "Seth" Antoniou are as harsh as they come, an extremely deep growling that comes from deep inside the throat. At times, they almost seemed too harsh, but soon become familiar and exciting. At times, the band includes some clean vocal passages (performed by Sotiris Vayenas), but they offer little overall relief from the overall mood of the album. Vayenas's voice may be clean, but he sings in a way that I can only describe as terrified and paranoid at the same time.

This is a terrific album, one that I'm sure fans will enjoy (re)discovering. I had a great time listening to it, especially the way it explores the mellower, more atmospheric, possibilities of death metal. The reissue also includes three bonus tracks, "Woman of the Rings," and live cuts of "Crescent Moon" and "Brotherhood of the Fallen Nights."

Track Listing:
1. Breaking the Inner Seal
2. Esoptron
3. Burning Phoenix
4. Astral Sea
5. Rain
6. Ice Castle
7. Celebration
8. Succubus Priestess
9. So Clean So Empty
10. The Eyes of Set
11. Narcissism
12. Woman of the Rings
13. Crescent Moon
14. Brotherhood of the Fallen Knights

Added: June 22nd 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2368
Language: english

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