One of last year’s most hauntingly beautiful, yet crushingly heavy releases was Codex Necro by Septicflesh. Their sound is Gothic orchestral death metal, as massive as it comes. With them, they brought Brazilian death metallers Krisiun and the Greek symphonic Gothic metallers, W.E.B, as well as Dead Shape Figure from Finland. This show took place on April 14th, 2019, and we decided to check it out.
I’ve never really been a big fan of Septicflesh, but have given the occasional few songs a spin over the years. This seemed a good chance to catch them live. I’d nominated Codex Necro for a few things, including Best Party Song – and not in vain. I’ve listened to some of the other bands a bit but they never really caught my eye. Dead Shape Figure seemed a bit like a relic from a decade ago, so I wasn’t very interested in seeing them.
Check out Septicflesh’s setlist from Tampere on Spotify:
Sadly there had been a change in the schedule and W.E.B from Greece, switched places with Dead Shape Figure. I arrived a bit late and barely caught a minute or two of W.E.B. From what I could tell, they were highly stylized and brutal, with some symphonic elements, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to hear any more.
Foretelling Dead Shape Figure’s emergence was an epic intro tape that would have put Rhapsody to shame. Then as a full 180, they started out with their usual, generic sound. To be fair, it was fairly technical, melodic, and heavy, but not really what Gothic death metallers would usually be looking for.
Pros as they were – especially singer Galzi – they instantly took control of the stage. After two songs, Galzi did a very Finnish, cutesy hello to the crowd, which was followed by a drum solo by their special guest drummer, Mikko Herranen. “We don’t have enough songs, so we have to do a drum solo,” he had remarked. After a while, he said that they wanted to offset some of the heavier music of the evening with what he called “the softest song of the night,” which turned out to be “Switchblade Storm.” It was nice enough in a Sentenced kind of way. It was also the closest they ever got to sounding Gothic; they were very melodic and utilized guitar harmonies liberally.
The singer was constantly badgering the audience to get them to participate more, which seemed less like rock bravado and was more akin to a mathematics teacher telling their student to apply themselves. Their set clocked in right at 30 minutes, but was about as much as I would have wanted to hear from them. They admittedly weren’t a great fit for the night.
Brazilian three-piece Krisiun was next to climb the stage. “We are Krisiun. We’re gonna fuck this shit up,” said singer/bass player Alex Camargo right off the bat. They looked and sounded like one would expect a classic brutal death metal band to look and sound. Camargo had a tendency to introduce every song and express gratitude to the audience for showing up (in rather broken English).
In no way was it a by-the-numbers performance though. The speeds at which they played were insane, yet they never seemed to be even a millionth of a second off-tempo. “Scourge of the Enthroned” in particular was a bombastic achievement in brutality. The rapidfire blastbeats by Max Kolesne coupled with the erratic guitar work of Moyses Kolesne truly sold it. They even riled up the crowd to a degree seldomly seen in Helsinki. I even witnessed some rare rowdiness: knocking over tables and chairs and whatnot.
The next-to-last song was dedicated to “the greatest frontman of all time,” which turned out to be “Ace of Spades” by Motörhead, obviously eulogizing their legendary singer/bass player, Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister. They played it with a suitable amount of reverence and a good tempo. Camargo may have messed up some of the lyrics but not to a degree wherein most people would’ve noticed. It was an exceptionally proficient death metal gig.
As Septicflesh was nearing their start time, Nosturi shone blue lights on on the crowd and played an ominous, almost-Gregorian intro before the band came on stage with a bang. They began the set with “Portrait of a Headless Man” and the atmosphere was palpable. It seemed as if everyone in the venue was as excited as I was. The heavy beats, the sharp synth sound – truly the ultimate party song. They kept the energy up and soon “Martyr” and “Prototype” had the crowd chanting and pumping their fists. “Do you still have energy? You’re gonna need it!” cried singer Spiros Antoniou after they finished.
They had outfits on that brought to mind Bram Stroker’s Dracula, as if flesh itself was made into armor. The backdrop was heavily themed around the new album’s look, particularly the serpent from the cover. Throughout the show, the band would occasionally walk off stage leaving only a backing track to establish the mood. Then they’d always return to thunderous applause. Antoniou would take any opportunity to plead the crowd to participate. Live, he relied heavily on his low growls, avoiding the high clean vocals frequently heard on records.
“Communion,” “The Vampire of Nazareth,” and “Prometheus” received particularly enthusiastic crowd responses, as the older and therefore more familiar songs. During “Persepolis,” Antoniou said they always had a wall of death but tonight there wasn’t enough time. Therefore the audience haphazardly threw together a moshpit.
After that the band went off stage for a bit and were predictably summoned back quickly for an encore. They wanted to dedicate their encore to a local band that had toured with them before, Ensiferum; it was sweet and the crowd ate it up. They played two songs: “Anubis,” with the clean vocals coming from a backing track, and then finally “Dark Art.” It was beyond epic. The crowd was hysterical as the party atmosphere reached a fever pitch. “We will remember this evening!” cried Antoniou at the end of it all. I was rendered speechless.
Nosturi was the perfect venue for this gig and the bands had put the lower-end limits of the sound system to the test. Even though Krisiun and Septicflesh had such relentless sounds, everything came out crystal clear. Occasionally, however, I wondered if Septicflesh’s backing tracks were intentionally as quiet as they were. The venue wasn’t absolutely full but at around 80% capacity. Not too cramped but still intimate. I really could’ve done without Dead Shape Figure, but otherwise the night was an overall uplifting experience. Hopefully we’ll be seeing the other acts again soon.
1. Portrait of a Headless Man
4. Enemy of Truth
6. The Vampire from Nazareth
7. Dantes Inferno
10. Dark Art
Photos: Marco Manzi