Greek symphonic metallers SepticFlesh make their studio album return with Modern Primitive, a brutal addition to their extensive discography. The return comes five years after their previous studio release, Codex Omega, and two years after their first live album, the full-orchestra production Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX.
“The Collector” opens the album with a calm but deceptive acoustic guitar introduction, building to exactly what you would expect: a full force wave of death metal sound with slow, heavy riffs, like a march pushing forwards. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, showing that there is no backing down from the harsh and aggressive sounds we are used to.
“Hierophant” follows, the first song to offer clean vocals over a prominent string arrangement. The track pulls back slightly, but slams down again with a choir and snare blast beats until culminating in an epic finale. “Self-Eater” brings on more incredibly harsh vocals and slamming riffs, but ends on a bit of a spoken outro and the inclusion of some Middle-Eastern inspired female vocals.
“Neuromancer” feels very similar to the intro and riff of “The Collector” but quickly moves into a fast paced riff positioned between menacing growls of the verses and the melodic clean vocals of the bridge. This has many pace changes to keep it interesting, and would be an excellent headbanging song. “Coming Storm” feels very much like the title suggests. The fast horns and orchestral arrangements feel like being in the middle of chaos. Twice, it all pulls back for us to experience a calm moment, but immediately crashes back down to the heavy reality. It’s madness, in the best way possible for a symphonic death metal fan.
“A Desert Throne” kicks off with a nice moving riff, complemented by the surrounding strings. It’s fast-paced and brutal, featuring a haunting outro chorus. The title track, “Modern Primitives” is ultra heavy and in-your-face, with a clean chorus. While changes in pace are common in the Septicflesh discography, I find this track to be the weakest in terms of both flow and melody.
The album concludes with “Psychohistory” and “A Dreadful Muse,” both well-paced songs with constant barrages of heavy hits. “Psychohistory” barely gives you time to breathe with the endless chugging riffs, while the latter offers a mix of melancholy orchestrations and bright choir vocals.
Septicflesh continues to be one of the best symphonic death metal bands, mixing dark and light sounds to create their eerie and dramatic atmosphere. While this album isn’t a game changer for them or for the genre, it’s still an incredibly welcome addition to their discography with many tracks that could be replayed in live sets.