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Septic Flesh | ‘Mystic Places of Dawn’

In the metalized mind, 1994 can seem remote indeed.

The birthplace of seminal, grandaddy releases by Burzum, Testament, Emperor and Amorphis, that year is oft spoken of in terms of grape vintage, hazy and glorious, ne’er to be replicated.

It was at this time that a then little known Greek band made their first foray into the relative mainstream with ‘Mystic Places at Dawn’.

In a more fallow epoch, this album may have gotten more contemporary kudos, but alas, as was common for the time, the Norse champagne was drank eagerly, and the highly virtouous MPOD was not the breakthrough these Greeks may have hoped it would become.

So, with this re-mastered and re-packaged debut album, complete with the tracks from earlier demo ‘Temple of the Lost Race’, a reappraisal of this underrated, innovative release seems timely.

There is a profound diversity to this album, mountains of ideas, influences, creatvity and enthusiasm. Refining and harnessing all of this is an achievement in itself. The atmosphere is eerie, even grimey.

The eponymous opener accentuates this feel with a combination of deep whispered and from the depths vocals. The ferocious riffery showcased is ubiquitous for the duaration of the record, and the keys, so often the object of toe curling in this genre seperate it from the chasing pack.

Delicate and deliberate, they add a mystique rather than prompting sighs from the listener.

As well as this excellently crafted, layered sound, MPOD has countless hooks and memorable, razor sharp pieces of leadwork. It is a testament to Septic Flesh that in a world expectant of more and more intricate and frantic playing that this remains valid.

The reverb drenched, tremolo style is used for much of the guitar legwork, complimented by clean, almost watery sections for effect.’Crescent Moon’ shows these virtues in full flight,underscored by a vocal display full of vigour, intent, and no little evil.

Programmed drums often arouse suspicion and prejudice in listeners, but if the machine is used dextrously, it is not necessarily a major drawback.

According to the band themselves, drummers were particularly hard to come by at the time of this release in Greece, and they were left with little option but the route they

They have done a decent job in this regard, and while no substitute for organic drumming, the (ghasty) OTT machine stylings of Mortician and others are avoided, and the record flows well in terms of percussion.

Choosing highlights from this album is not a simple task, as there are so many inspired riffs and clever pieces of composition.

‘Return to Catharge’ is a fearsome, low end blast, with a spine tingling chorus and doomy, ethereal keyboard sections which epitomise the release. ‘The Underwater Garden’ is aptly named, a dreamlike fantasy track, weighty, dark mooded yet majestic.

MPOD is certainly a worthy peer to the debuts of both Rotting Christ and Varathron, with a level of songwriting to rival, even surpass their more vaunted countrymen.

The production values are frankly poor however, and the incoherent and lopsided sound takes away from the great virtues of this record. The mix job was either rushed or performed by an engineer who simply wasn’t up the standard required. The bonus goodies in demo form in fact sound better in this regard.

Despite this, the writing and execution of the tracks are of a level high enough for listeners to pardon the shit production.

Overall then, a highly impressive debut and it set the tone for the masterpieces that would follow with ‘The Ophidian Wheel’ and their greatest release, ‘Esoptron’.

The inherent beauty of Septic Flesh’s work finds its provenance here, and it’s well worth discovering or rediscovering, 18 years after its birth.

4 / 5 – Kevin Jacob ::: 16/12/12

  1. has this been released or has it only reached Kilkenny now? 😉

  2. Re release my man.

  3. could be just what i’m looking for

  4. I get my water service from

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