Album review: SEPTICFLESH – Mystic Places Of Dawn

Season Of Mist – Out Now.

Septicflesh (formerly known as Septic Flesh) are one of those bands whose target audience and greater impact was felt in the underground, however, since their reformation and the release of 2008’s magnum opus “Communion”, the Athenian quartet has found itself enjoying more popularity than ever before.

Though their current label’s decision of re-issuing their debut album “Mystic Places Of Dawn” may look like a desperate attempt to generate additional income for their coffers, this release will be welcomed by some of the band’s latter-day fans, since, first of all, the first pressing by the band’s then label Holy Records is very difficult to find (as well as being pricey) and, secondly, the owner of this re-issue will also get access to the four compositions that put together the band’s first ever E.P “Temple Of The Lost Race”.

If the promise of this freshly illustrated combo is not enough to entice you then the quality of the material should be enough to convince you of the error of your ways. Even though “Mystic Places Of Dawn” was released only four years after the band’s inception, a time when the members of the band were still honing their chops, this eight track release portrays Septicflesh (Septic Flesh at the time) as a technically driven band that was not afraid either to experiment or to navigate in uncharted waters – an approach much different from the one followed by the vast majority of their fellow countrymen at the time.

The end result is, at times, pretty stunning, as the owners of the first pressing already know and those of you who will purchase this new version will soon find out.

Mixing the aggressiveness of classic late 80s Death Metal with the melodic dexterity of Paradise Lost, the same-titled opus “Mystic Places Of Dawn” is a wonderful piece filled with haunting keyboard melodies and staccato guitar riffs – an approach also followed in the follow-up “Pale Beauty Of The Past”. “Return To Carthage” is a fast-paced, straight-forward composition that will surprise you with its brutality, while the eastern melodies and Bolt Thrower-inspired riffs of “Crescent Moon” are certainly amongst the highlights of the album.

Ever-changing rhythmical patterns and cleverly crafted melodies can be found in both “Chasing The Chimera” and “The Underwater Garden”, while the duet “Behind The Iron Mask” / (“Morpheus) The Dreamlord” finds the former engage in a straight-forward aural assault while the latter achieves maximum effect through a layer of Paradise Lost-style lead melodies.

The last composition of the album, namely “Mythos (Pt I: Elegy – Pt II: Time Unbounded)” is the most impressive composition of all, operating more like a movie score epic theme rather than a conventional Metal composition and proving, in the process, the unique skills of this outfit.

The four bonus songs, originally comprising the band’s 1991 E.P “Temple Of The Lost Race”, are less mature but equally impressive in their appeal. “Erebus” is an old-school Death Metal composition with a twist, “Another Reality” is raw but sophisticated, while the duet “Temple Of The Lost Race” / “Setting Of The Two Suns” contain enough power and energy to blow your socks off!

The early 90s were a time when Greek extreme Metal was still in its infancy, with bands struggling to make ends meet by playing in front of fairly small but loyal audiences and rehearsing in dark rooms that lacked decent equipment.

It was under such terrible, unfriendly circumstances that Sotiris Vayenas (bass/vocals) and his colleagues managed to convince a small French label that they deserved all the faith and support they could get. The end result? A rough diamond of an album that fans of intelligently crafted extreme Metal will simply find impossible to resist – and, as time has shown, the beginning of far greater things to come.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

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