Septic Flesh “The Ophidian Wheel” (1997)

Septic Flesh have had a somewhat sporadic output over the years, but have found the time to put together an unusually strong discography. Some of their best and oddest material emerged from their brief collaboration with Natalie Rassoulis, whose sharp, classically trained voice added a haunting edge to their already esoteric sound. The only proper album from this period is “The Ophidian Wheel,” an outstanding example of Greek death metal and arguably the band’s best work.

The basic Septic Flesh sound is in full force: brutal chugging death metal with heavy metal guitar leads and ample post punk/goth rock atmosphere, complete with space age synthesizers and guitar tones so crisp and clean you could bleach your socks in them. As usual, all these components carry a certain hard-to-pin-down non-western flavor, though the overall sound is probably more Mediterranean than Asian. They’ve always had a slight twinge of the epic and the exotic, somewhat reminiscent of the “oriental” excesses of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the apocalyptic theatrics of the Fields of Nephilim, though heavier and hookier than either band per the metal mission statement.

The two things that make the album really stand out in their discography is the bigger production (before “The Ophidian Wheel” the band was plagued with a generally muddy sound) and Rassoulis’ voice, which isn’t weak, “feminine,” or sappy in the way so many goth metal sopranos are. Instead, it’s a strong, willful and somewhat chilly voice, and she uses it as an oppressive weapon and a purely musical instrument, sometimes high and mighty and at other times, rhythmic and ritualistic, always slightly alien sounding.

The style melds well with the lyrics, which are all about classical Greek esoterica, hedonistic sexual cults and new age aliens, a melding of ancient history, fantasy and science fiction. The cover, which features an original painting with serpents, snake men and what appears to be a cosmically-inclined gray alien, summarizes its contents pretty well. Septic Flesh has always been a strange band, bringing ponderous lyrics and oddball experimental approaches to what amounts to extremely kick ass metal.

“The Ophidian Wheel” remains the best working example of this band’s highly unusual style.

-James Slone


Release:  1997
Label:  Holy Records
Avantgenre:  Hellenistic Alien Esoterica
Duration:  51:33
Origin:  Greece
Official site:
Review online since:  21.02.2008 / 05:52:58


01 – The Future Belongs To The Brave
02 – The Ophidian Wheel
03 – Phallic Litanies
04 – Razor Blades Of Guilt
05 – Tartarus
06 – On The Topmost Step Of The Earth
07 – Microcosmos
08 – Geometry In Static
09 – Shamanic Rite
10 – Heaven Below
11 – Enchantment

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