Sound — 7
Hailing from Athens, Greece, Septicflesh had been dabbling with the fusion of orchestra and death metal for decades, and while the majority of their albums were released prior to their breakup in 2003, it wasn't until their reunion in 2007, and the subsequent release of their critically-lauded seventh studio album, "Communion," that their following began to grow exponentially. This was also the time when Septicflesh seemed to have found their best recipe for symphonic death metal, utilizing the grandeur contributions of the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra, which, due to its strikingly similar name, is consistently mistaken for the world-renowned Prague Philharmonic Orchestra - though the FILMharmonic Orchestra has proven to bring the symphonic noise in spades. Septicflesh would use this revamped, sumptuous sound again in their 2011 album, "The Great Mass," which showed how epic their formula can get. After "The Great Mass," Septicflesh would proceed to re-release remastered versions of all of their earlier albums - for those that had only just discovered the band within the last seven years and to tide them over while waiting for the next release - and now, Septicflesh is back with their ninth studio album, "Titan."
"Titan" once again shows that Septicflesh can take the dichotomy of opulent orchestral music and abrasive death metal and wrap them together to make compositions that boast equal parts beauty and brutality. However, like any music (or anything in general), too much of it starts to devoid it of its potency. In the metal aspect of "Titan," there's not much variance to distinct between songs: guitars either switch from blistering tremolo riffs or more spaced chord slamming while melody-rich orchestral instruments fill in the middle. While the only guitar riff that resonates on the album is found in "Dogma," the instrumental progression in "Ground Zero" is well-balanced in all aspects. The drums could also be labeled with the same curse of monotony, but that's just a more pessimistic way of saying that the drum-lines throughout the album are relentless, and drummer Fotis Benardo may possibly be the Greek god of drumming (it's still unconfirmed). The orchestral instruments are left to distinct songs from one another, but when the status quo is filled with string sections and backing choirs, they don't always succeed in their objective. Nonetheless, the orchestra-provided elements shine brightest and most distinct with a nice harpsichord section in "Order of Dracul," a substantial orchestral break equipped with a flute melody, marching snare-rolls and a lute in "Prometheus," and a child choir in "Prototype."
Lyrics — 7
Whether it's because of all of the mythos-centric songs Septicflesh have written in their 20+-year career, or the fact that symphonic death metal is typecast as exclusively having fantasy-based lyrics, "Titan" manages to balance itself alright in terms of mythological subject matter and more contemporary subject matter. Of course, with a name like "Titan," Septicflesh are going to give you songs about deities and classic Greek mythos in songs like "War in Heaven," "Prometheus" and "Titan," although they come off as the lesser-captivating songs lyrically - and frankly, everyone's familiar enough with the story of Prometheus, so how much more can another song about him bring to the table? On a similar tangent of characters worthy of songwriting material, Septicflesh also growl about the infamous Vlad The Impaler in "Order of Dracul," and it manages to be alright in its rhymes and imagery. The songs that are most interesting are the ones that deal with modern topics topped with a nice glaze of dystopia: "Ground Zero" cautiously but concretely reflects on the distant memory of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster of 1986; "Prototype" not only points an unflattering finger at the lack-of-humanity, assembly-line-lifestyle of people today, but also narrates of creating a humanoid-machine hybrid meant for perpetual servitude; this story seems to carry over into "The First Immortal," which takes the perspective of the "prototype" ("part man, part machine/wearing my synthetic skin").
Overall Impression — 7
As Septicflesh utilizes their post-breakup symphonic death metal formula once again, it's noticeable in "Titan" that they're substituting raw power for a genuine step forward in their discography. The metal aspects are powerful and heavy-hitting but are lacking in innovation, and the symphonic elements are starting to come off as commonplace rather than extraordinary in result of the fact that Septicflesh have had them in their music for so long - even the use of a real symphony is starting to become less of a unique quality since this is their third time in a row. "Titan" isn't an album that was all for nigh, however. The droves of metalheads that were captivated by Septicflesh's last two albums will be satisfied with this album, as well as anyone that needs a strong dose of extreme metal with a symphonic chaser. But if and when Septicflesh begin to make their landmark tenth album, they ought to strive to break the mold - perhaps in the form of a full-fledged neo-classical death metal concept album? One could only hope.