Septicflesh – Modern Primitive [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

This article fits its category perfectly and not at all. On the one hand, Septicflesh is a household name in symphonic death metal and most of you won’t have missed that they released a new album this year. On the other hand, there has been little to no fanfare surrounding its release. No promo in our inbox, no chatter on the lines. It wasn’t until the following weekend had passed that I chanced upon it, did a double take, and took to the Hall to announce my discord about completely missing Modern Primitive, one of the biggest symphodeath releases of the year.

Style-wise, not much has changed for the Hellenic hellbringers, as it has not since I first encountered them with Communion back in 2008. Big, crunchy riffs that waltz with a full choir and orchestra, led by some of the most consistent and recognizable growls available. Rather than lengthy sonatas, Septicflesh deals in compact writing with a lot of punch and little downtime. The tracks barely have any intros or outros, and bridges of more than half a minute are rare. Instead, the music ramps up quickly towards its central thesis, paints with broad strokes and big hooks, and moves on to the next track. And whereas many bands challenge themselves with longer, more complex compositions as they age, Septicflesh merely tightens up and slims down further, resulting in a taut 38-minute album with not an ounce of fat to be found.

Due to the band’s inherent playlist style of writing, Septicflesh albums are only as strong as the sum of its individual tracks. Thankfully, Modern Primitive ranks high in that regard. Each cut has a different mood, and different tricks that make it work. Though the band has a formula, it stops well short of self-plagiarizing. “The Collector” is an ominous, striding horror story, “Self-Eater” a study in ritualistic brutality that keeps changing pace and intensity. The biggest highlights are clustered around the center. Chief crowd-pleaser is sure to be “Neuromancer”: it propels itself off a set of strong hooks and intelligent application of the symphonic elements, and the chorus demands neck-bisecting headbanging. The pinnacle is “Coming Storm,” however. Everything goes absolutely nuts on this track, from the pulsing brass and swirling string arpeggios to the pumped-up rhythm section and battering riffs, and the result is an addictively panicked soundtrack to Hell’s gates opening and all its demons swarming the land.

11 albums into their career, Septicflesh is not likely to ever change much. Their niche is carved, smoothed, polished, painted with Sumerian demons, varnished and locked behind wrought iron gates. But when the result is a record as tight and confident as Modern Primitive, there’s really not much need to change, because these guys remain at the top of their game.

Tracks to Check Out: “Self-Eater,” “Neuromancer” and “Coming Storm.”



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