A Review of the Album Ophidian Wheel by Greek Symphonic Death Metal Band Septicflesh
Introduction to Ophidian Wheel & Its Musical Influences
Ophidian Wheel is the 3rd studio album by the Greek symphonic death metal band formerly known as Septic Flesh but for the purposes of this review we will refer to the band as Septicflesh so as not to confuse any readers. Ophidian Wheel was released in 1997 and it is symphonic in nature because it has female vocals in it and I can also hear an early Dark Tranquillity influence in the riffing. There is female chanting which may remind some of you of the band Tristania. The melodies also may have influenced Oregon area death metal band Agalloch but Septicflesh are at the top of the metal bands list in Greece as far as I'm concerned. Septicflesh especially by this time in their career offer the listener more variety than just death metal with heavy rough vocal growls.
Give Greek Metal Bands a Chance
People will dismiss Greece as a country when it comes to metal (at least some of them will) because they may think that heavy metal in Greece is something to be pushed aside. But if you give Greek metal enough of a chance, you just may really enjoy it enough.
SepticFlesh's Music Is Still Good Even With the Hard to Understand Vocals
“The Future Belongs to the Brave” tells of the importance of being able to accept change as a constant theme of life. It is said in the song that decline happens to those that fail to grow and move forward. “The Ophidian Wheel” with its complex lyrics is stylistically similar to Theatre of Tragedy (yes, that reference again) as the chant of “The Ophidian Wheel” is heard throughout this song. The thing about Septicflesh is that their vocal growls are so rough that it is often times hard to interpret what is being said in the songs if you don't have access to the lyrics. “Phallic Litanies” has this sort of interesting feel to it where it first starts off in an atmospheric fashion before getting heavy. Welcome to the joyous passion that is Greece's Septicflesh. It can be easy to see why an avid fan of atmospheric death metal such as this would find this album a special kind of listening “treat” as it can please the ears. Even if the vocals are too rough to understand, the music more than makes up for that deficiency. I would make the educated guess that at the time of this album's release, Greece wasn't a country that was famous enough to be on the world map in terms of the metal genre. Countries such as the United States, Germany, and the UK were making their mark in terms of the metal genre coming out with extreme metal bands while Greece may have been left behind. If the lyrics were not so complicated to interpret, then Septicflesh would be given even more credit but even without that, the symphonic feel on songs such as “On the Topmost Step of the Earth” deserve praise and recognition even if they are not totally flawless.
Analysis of the Song Microcosmos
“Microcosmos” is another instrumental song in this album and this one has symphonic elements like another band called Finntroll that also used these kinds of elements. This song however repeats itself a little and that may be a drawback but if you have enjoyed this album so far, then this minor thing is nothing to sweat about.
Final Thoughts About the Album Ophidian Wheel
“Razor Blades of Guilt” has some impressive guitar work as the rough vocals of Spiros Antoniou dominate and there is a beautiful musical transition that ensues. Greece is a country that is very much slowly establishing itself on the world map of heavy metal. “Tartarus” even though this is a song that is listed as an instrumental is technically not an instrumental song but it is a symphonic influenced song with female vocals as it is a beautiful song similar to what Norway;s Arcturus would do minus the female vocals. “Shamanic Rite” is a song that lyrically refers to a shaman, a person that uses musical instruments to sing for others. “Heaven Below” stylistically is like a heavier version of the earlier Lacuna Coil albums such as In a Reverie. Ophidian Wheel ends with the better symphonic instrumental song called Enchantment which is a short, yet enchanting experience for the ears.
Rate the Album Ophidian Wheel by Septicflesh
"Razor Blades of Guilt"
© 2020 Ara Vahanian