Retrospective: Septic Flesh – Ophidian Wheel

In the modern metal lexicon, European metal has often been used to denote bands that relied extensively on Iron Maiden harmonies, keyboards, pseudo-classical melodies, female vocalists, tremolo picked riffs and overall less influence from Pantera and Metallica. Septic Flesh have come to epitomize this style despite adding a lot more Metalcore elements to keep with the times. Before the name change, the band were once an overlooked force and presented many ideas that metal as a whole was never fully able to capitalize on. Ophidian Wheel is the summit of the band’s creativity and pushes the romantic qualities of metal even further.



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The Greatest Idiot Riff : Bolt Thrower’s “World Eater”

Master’s Paul Speckmann is known for taking an idea and squeezing everything he can from it through repetition and then utilizing the most direct route to return to that idea. Though this mentality would fail many bands because the riffs didn’t have the necessary urgency and creativity to work. Bolt Thrower on the other hand took this approach and pushed it to the logical extreme as each individual riff became the central focus while narrative development was relegated to an afterthought despite somehow still being present. What made Bolt Thrower so intriguing was that they possessed powerful riffs that were caveman like and more often than not completely idiotic yet the band managed to soar where others failed miserably.



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SMR – The Confines of Madness

Kehpa Lehtinen – It is ok to be sad and dark
A regrettably titled EP by a Finnish composer who dabbles in the usual mixture of pop, film music and classical. Much of this short record adheres to the methodology of such a style but there are a few moments of genuine darkness and melancholy due to the disturbing melodies that seem to exist across all forms of Finnish music. Standard piano tropes incorporate small amounts of dissonance while a theremin will usually play the leading voice. The theremin is a difficult instrument to master as it reacts to the slightest movement, meaning that no melody can ever be replicated the exact same way and each individual will always have their particularities as physiques and motor skills vary greatly from person to person. The innate “slightly out of tune” character of the theremin has been toned down here through studio trickery but when used well in conjunction with the more exotic intervals, manages to convey powerful moods. These songs aren’t fully developed and mainly state a few themes without any narrative but show glimpses of potential that such a combination can make. If Kehpa Lehtinen was to forego the easier elements of his music and follow though on the ideas presented here, there could be something very special.



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Perdition Temple – Sacraments of Descension

Gene Palubicki from Angelcorpse notoriety returns with a new album that continues within the tradition of Black metal informed Floridian Death metal. Perdition Temple bring a level of technical acumen that has been denigrated by fans and practitioners of this style in recent years without falling into the pitfalls of Modern metal.



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SMR – Business As Usual

Ulcerate – “Stare Into Death And Be Still”
Riffless Death metal outfit Ulcerate have toned their typically dissonant approach in search of something more akin to Post-Rock as seen by many of the modern “black” metal bands. The shapes of the melodies remain virtually identical to their previous works with just the choice of notes changing to reflect this sudden change. Inquisition like tremolo effects form the “tails” of most of the melodies. While such effects have been used in metal to deliver great results (Iron Maiden – “22 Acacia Avenue”), here they just give the illusion that there is more than what is truly happening. In reality this is a compilation of random ideas shoved together that maintain a certain atmosphere without any actual composition.



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The Curious Case of Testament and Alex Skolnick

Testament, famously known for being a bay area band not in the big four rather than through their own exploits. Though their first two records are entirely respectable affairs due to the melodic sensibilities of lead guitarist Alex Skolnick. Problems not related to their music and a lack of business savvy always kept them below their peers in terms of success and it is only in recent years have the band started to find a reasonable amount of success after a long career of constant disappointments and bizarre records.



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Svoid – To Never Return

Svoid are a Hungarian duo hailing from Budapest whose ten year existence has seen the band shift slowly from Black metal towards integrating more and more Rock influences until fully crossing over. While such an evolution is commonplace and the source for various dismal trends, Svoid on the other hand make their intentions clear that they are heavily informed from both genres since their inception and thus provide a combination that is honest and that unlike their peers seeks to integrate the Black metal elements into the heart of the composition rather using them for purely aesthetic reasons.



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