REVIEW: Septicflesh – Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX

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Concerts have been off the table for a couple of months now and ever since, there have been a plethora of other things metal bands have come up with to keep us entertained, from streaming concerts and Q&As to live album releases. One of the bands releasing such a show are Greek symphonic death metal masters SEPTICFLESH, who are about to unleash their legendary “Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX” show on Blu-ray DVD. The show was taped in February 2019 at the sold-out Metropolitan Theater in Mexico City and is set for release on 31 July 2020 through Season of Mist.

The immortalized night was the largest production of its kind the venue has ever hosted, which included the inclusion of a full-fletched orchestra (the Symphonic Experience Orchestra) and two choirs (Enharmonía Vocalis Choir and the National University of Mexico Children’s and Youth Choir). Over 100 musicians teamed up to play some symphonic death metal for an extremely excited audience.

While many metal bands have already embarked on the journey of performing with orchestras and choirs, SEPTICFLESH has had somewhat of an advantage throughout their career. Guitarist and founding member Christos Antoniou has a background in classical composition and takes care of all the orchestral elements in the music. In fact, he usually builds the band’s intricate extreme metal songs around these orchestrations. As a result, paired up with an orchestra and choirs, the production is something that those with a heart for metal and classical music are going to be highly enthusiastic about.

I have watched the whole film now a couple of times and I’m awestruck. It’s hard to find words to describe this masterfully created release. Let me start with the most obvious: while the visuals and production on that level are fairly minimalistic with a fair amount of attention put into giving it a real feel, it’s the sound that totally carries this live experience to the next level. The mix is incredible and beautifully balanced. All instruments in the orchestra shine through in proper fashion, from the brass to the string sections, but also the band doesn’t get lost in all the magnificent sounds that both the choirs and orchestra produce. The best moments are perhaps where all of these elements blend in together perfectly, in, for example, songs like “The Vampire from Nazareth” and “Prometheus”; moments like these are almost too epic to take in from the first second.

After seeing frontman Seth Siro Anton perform with a broken shoulder at Graspop in 2018, my respect for him as the leader of the ship has grown profoundly. The bass player/vocalist plays an important part in their whole production, as it’s not easy to get an audience to participate in the show. From the first second until the very last, he had the crowd in his grip, screaming along as if their lives depended on it. The fact that he misses a line here and there is easily forgiven as this is perhaps the most dedicated frontman I’ve ever seen and it’s very entertaining to watch, especially during a song like “Anubis,” where the performance is mostly carried by the fan interaction when they have to sing the melody along with the band. Once in a while, he gets a little bit of help from Sotiris Anvnnaki V., who is doing clean vocals during some of the songs. The rest of the band also performs very energetically, from headbanging to moving around, but most impressive still is drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner, one of the best and fastest drummers currently in the world. His drum beats feel like the equivalent of a hummingbird flapping its wings.

If you have been wondering what kinds of activities you can plan in your newly adapted daily routine, “Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX” should certainly be included. Playing these songs with a full-sized orchestra really brings life to the magnificent orchestrations by Christos Antoniou‘s hands and it almost seems as if they are meant to be played that way. The band picked out a setlist covering most of their career, with a lot of highlights for fans, it’s hard to even pick a favorite. Though I have to admit that while watching this I often felt jealous of the Mexican fans who were there to enjoy the show, I can’t thank SEPTICFLESH enough for immortalizing the event and capturing it in the best way possible. The show truly is a feast for the eyes and ears and is perhaps the most magnificent captured live show 2020 has to offer.