The re-release of the 1998 ‘A Fallen Temple’ is my first review for 2014. This being the fourth SepticFlesh album, it contains re-recordings from their 1991 début EP ‘Temple of the Lost Race’, which are the harsher, simpler and more straight forward death metal tracks, while the newer songs were the next step in their evolution towards the epic symphonic scores of today. The re-release includes a cover of the Paradise Lost track “The Last Time” from the ‘As We Die for… Paradise Lost’ compilation and tracks from ‘The Eldest Cosmonaut’ EP. The line-up remained unchanged from ‘Ophidian Wheel’ in the form of Spiros “Seth” Antoniou on bass and death vocals; Sotiris Vayenas on guitars, keyboards and clean vocals; Christos Antoniou on guitars and keyboards; Natalie Rassoulis doing the exquisite soprano vocals.
“Brotherhood of the Fallen Knights” eases you into the album as it gently combines SepticFlesh’s trademark guitar sound with the alternating death and clean vocals at an easy pace that allows the melodies to flow and merge with ease.
The trippy sounds of “The Eldest Cosmonaut” keep the pace relatively slow and has Natalie hitting some high notes that could make your ears bleed if not for Seth’s growls having already torn them asunder.
While there’s no real chance of calling SepticFlesh poppy, “Marble Smiling Face” definitely has some of those sensibilities in its lighter moments with the airy leads, main guitar melody and keyboards, however the heavy guitars and vocals keep it tainted, as it should be.
“Underworld Act 1” is the first of three 10 minute opuses that are more about mood and atmosphere than heaviness and with that in mind could just as easily be an opera or a score as you submerge yourself in its depths.
There’s a huge tempo change as they immediately blast into “Temple of the Lost Race” and the rest of the EP with an intense vigour and unbridled aggression, steering clear of clean vocals but not Sotiris and Christos’s harmonious guitar playing.
Seth’s rumbling bass rattles the walls of “The Crypt” (originally recorded as “Another Reality”) as his vocals tear off the doors in this relatively straight forward death metal track with an ultra-melodic bridge, however “Setting of the Two Suns” has all the heaviness they are known for along with plenty more hints of the more melodic elements that set them apart from anyone else at that time. The long flowing lead on “Erebus” is a great contrast to the fast triplets being played emphasising it rather well.
Heading back to the moody adagio “Underworld Act 2” has some slow spoken passages woven into the beautiful orchestral arrangements.
The guitars seem a bit heavier in “The Eldest Cosmonaut (Dark Mix)” while the keyboards give the song a far more ominous tint as they sound like they’re being played in a slightly lower key.
As a Paradise Lost fan I got a copy of the album that “The Last Time” was released on and at the time, and now for that matter, think that this song shows that both bands could play much heavier stuff but still manage to pull off mellower tracks without any problems.
The 11 minute “Underworld Act 3” has several movements as it slowly meanders to its conclusion and the “Finale” with is wood wind, trumpets and ethereal sounds.
Finally they wrap it up with “The Eldest Cosmonaut (Single Version)” which is almost half the length of the full version and on here more for completeness than anything else, but if like me you want every extra piece of music you can get, then it’s just extra icing on the cake. This also happens to be the video version, which you can find online if you are so inclined.
Now I’m just hoping that all these re-releases are a precursor to new material. 🙂
(7/10 – Marco Gaminara)