BLACK FLAME, SeptemĀ  (2011, Behemoth Productions)

The skull:
I tend to think of skulls as male for some reason, but who really knows the gender of these boneheads we’re evaluating? Four-hundred thirty-four skulls in and this is the first time one immediately strikes me as female. Possibly, in part, due to its modest size and reasonable proportion, but more because the skull looks like it belongs to Medusa, the Greek Gorgon whose main claim to fame was having snakes where her hair should be. Which begs the question: does the carpet match the drapes? It doesn’t appear that this artwork will be helpful in answering that timeless query. However, I do think I see a clue, or some kind of symbolism, in that triangle. Am I right, guys?

The music:
There are so many Italian metal bands with large discographies that no one knows much about. That’s largely because there are a ton of Italian metal bands that are technically very good at their chosen sub-genre (black metal, black/death, thrash and power metal being especially popular there), but deficient when it comes to having an engaging, distinctive musical voice. And many of these bands sound like mere analogs of more globally-recognized, non-Italian bands. This leads us to Septem, who have been around since 1998 and, unsurprisingly, are pretty okay but nothing more. They deliver a cruel, believable mesh of death and black metal, something that draws from the old Greek black metal scene and the Norwegian masters as much as it does more modern, precision sorts of sounds (think Behemoth). Sometimes they sound like Samael if they had continued down the dark path of Ceremony of Opposites instead of going the martial/industrial route. Sometimes they sound like Root if Root had suddenly decided to play with the intensity and adopt the robust production values of Vader instead of taking the progressive/eccentric path. But usually they just sound like they want to be Behemoth — and what modern death/black band doesn’t secretly wish they were Behemoth? Thing is, Black Flame don’t even make it a secret. It’s all there on Septem, right out in the open. What’s more: they’re signed to a label named Behemoth Productions. You can’t make this shit up. — Friar Wagner

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