Septicflesh: Codex Omega (Seasons Of Mist)
It’s been a lengthy wait for album number ten from the Athenian extreme metal outfit, following 2014’s magnificent Titan but the wait is finally over with arrival of Codex Omega. This is the first release with drummer Kerim ‘Krimh’ Lecher who matches his predecessor Fotis Gianakopoulos beat for beat. Produced by Logan Mader, diehard fans will be pleased to note that the soaring operatics remain firmly in place, lightening the brutal assault which breaks on the listener with opener Dante’s Inferno. The intensity rarely slows, with Spiros ‘Seth Siro Anton’ Antoniou’s gruesome unclean vocals in immense form. The majesty of the band is captured in Portrait Of A Headless Man, a high-octane ride which combines spiralling choral vocals, massive chunky guitar riffs and forceful time changes. There are moments of calm, such as the opening build up to Martyr which lurches powerfully into a highly charged, passion filled epic, horn sections segueing into a cascade of explosive riffs. Martyr doesn’t obliterate with pace but with pure power.
Communion, The Great Mass and Titan all showed the band’s ability to intertwine the dramatic operatic elements with brutal death metal and Codex Omega continues with this voyage. Faceless Queen allows Sotiris Vayenas the brief opportunity to flex his clean vocals whilst Christos Antoniou's lead guitar slices and shreds with vicious intent. Gospels Of Fear is possibly the most accessible track on first listen, a Slayer type guitar riff, a haunting bell and classical symphonies all merging to produce an astonishingly fast three and a half minutes which leaves you gasping for air at the pace of it all. The evocative and unorthodox construction works to impressive effect, the impact stunning. Trinity, which closes the main album provides a much more sedate sound, almost hard rock in parts before the mammoth riff and more guttural vocals pound the skull with impending doom. Black clouds gathered as I listened to this atmospheric song.
The three bonus tracks are worth the purchase with the 11+ minutes of the monumental orchestral Martyr Of Truth worth the price in its own. Septicflesh are a band who merit enormous respect. Like their brothers Rotting Christ, the band follow their path and are not persuaded to follow anything else. Codex Omega is a welcome return from one of the bands who continue to make extreme metal interesting. Don’t be afraid. A stunning release. 9/10
The Quill: Born From Fire (Metalville)
More Swedish hard rock and an absolute beauty here with the eighth album from The Quill. Combining the hard rock edge of Sabbath, Purple, Zeppelin and Motörhead with the alt-grunge of Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and the stoner edge of Monster Magnet, Born From Fire marks the return of vocalist Magnus Erkwall for the first time since 2006’s In Triumph. From the Motörhead style raw power of Snakecharmer Woman, the Sabbath type doom laden riffs of Ghost Horse and the stomp of Electric Sons, Born From Fire is a treat laden album which showcases some solid musicianship. A release well worth picking up. 8/10
Night: Raft Of The World (The Sign Records)
The opening 4 minutes and 45 seconds of track one of Swedish rock outfit Night’s album Raft Of The World was enough. Fire Across The Sky was a reasonably decent hard rock track until Oskar Andersson opened his mouth. I couldn’t reach for the off button in time for track 2, Surrender to start but by then I was waving the white flag to make it end. As Mrs H said, “it was nice when it stopped”. The remaining seven tracks may be great. I’m not taking the risk. 2/10