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Septicflesh - A Fallen Temple

by Matt Hensch

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"A Fallen Temple" is feasibly the oddest child in the Septicflesh (or Septic Flesh, or whatever) lineage. Not musically, though, as it-or some of it, anyway-continues the multilayered gothic/doom-laden death metal approach the band had evolved into on "Ophidian Wheel." "A Fallen Temple" is strange because it is an embodiment of Septicflesh in three forms. One part of it is an album boasting an exceptional set of new songs that continues the group's progression from "Ophidian Wheel"; another is a rerecording of the "Temple of the Lost Race" EP; and the last piece of the pie is made up of a series of theatrical numbers featuring only vocals and orchestrations, very similar to "Tartarus" on "Ophidian Wheel," called "Underworld," presented in three acts. "A Fallen Temple" is Septicflesh's mind, body, and spirit showcased in what is often styled a full-length album though it listens more like a compilation. It's a bit of a weird one.

The first three tunes are the lone part of "A Fallen Temple" to write home about. Naturally they continue to tread upon the gothic/doom metal terrain overshadowed by the band's death metal principles and apply familiar tropes seen on "Ophidian Wheel." Straightforward, mid-paced riffs mixed with the band's diversified vocal attack (though the growls sit out completely on "The Eldest Cosmonaut," and again Natalie Rassoulis appears only sporadically) and a strong emphasis on atmosphere make up the anthems, as expected. They're quite modern, revolving on choruses and very catchy lead guitar melodies that serve as mediators between the simple riffing and the various ebbs and currents of the songs. They're all worthy to carry the Septicflesh banner, on the same level of quality the group had achieved with ease in its prime.

This magic, however, is missing from the four rerecorded songs from "Temple of the Lost Race." The tracks aren't different from the originals save for an unnecessary trimming of certain parts, making all the tunes shorter in length, and shinier production with an overall improved sound compared to the original release. The upgraded values don't add any sense of new life to cuts that were fine on the EP; the whole idea reeks of one of those things that doesn't enrich the overall product. A few changed synth designs here, a guitar solo with a larger role there; but nothing too drastic occurs that would merit this revitalized version of "Temple of the Lost Race" essential. There's much more gratification in the smoggy ruins of Septicflesh's first major release than the updates.

And then there are these "Underworld" pieces; I'm sort of torn on how to describe them. They aren't metal songs, because there are no riffs or structured sequences that would in any way make them traditional Septicflesh anthems, but since the 'acts' run for thirty minutes in total, they make up a huge chunk of the record. I'm apprehensive to call them musicals, but they have that theatrical element of a play or something dramatic occurring (they're dubbed 'acts,' for Christ's sake), yet are shaded by Septicflesh's esoteric ambience. They contain a variety of vocal styles, and there are orchestrations and other musical movements occurring underneath the declarations; they're at the very least interesting. Are they good? Well, I'm not sure-I certainly can't sit through all three of them in one sitting, especially after three brilliant songs and those unnecessarily redone oldies. That's the story of "A Fallen Temple": from excellent to excessive, debatably redundant; a bit of a weird one. Nice Paradise Lost cover, though.

Septicflesh - A Fallen Temple
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