Every once and awhile, you come across an album that you just can’t stop hearing about, even years after its release. Lately, that album for me has been Mesonoxian by Buffalo death metal bosses, Seplophile. It first graced my ears in February of 2013, and although I haven’t really listened to it since the summer of that year, I still hear at least one person bring it up at every Buffalo metal show I attend. Mesonoxian seems to have set a new standard for not only other Buffalo locals, but a few touring bands that have come through the area as well.
Back in May of 2013, I played a show with Seplophile and Arsis (Nuclear Blast Records) at Broadway Joes. During Seplophile’s set, I had a conversation with James Malone, Arsis’s frontman. He made a comment about how Seplophile not only made a great impression on him, but how they really stood out in an already very talented Buffalo metal scene. Malone later went on to address the crowd during Arsis’s set, giving Buffalo’s metal scene that traditional horns and hails. Then, at last Friday’s ‘Metal Fights Cancer’ event at Rockin’ Buffalo Saloon, I caught up with a lot of Western New York metal scene veterans who repeatedly brought up Mesonoxian, one show goer in particular still citing it as “the best metal album ever released by a Buffalo band, not of national status.” In short, all the attention this album continues to get today, has made me want to revisit it two years later and pick it apart.
It kicks off with “Exhale All Life”, an ominous piano intro played by guitarist, Matt Backlas. The keys come and go throughout the record, all of which are played by Matt, and perfectly compliment the “simply death” idea at the foundation of Seplophile’s music. “Anomos: Identity Crisis” is an ideal opening track for any death metal album. It pulls you in with quick evil riffing accompanied by vocalist Colin Winkelman’s persistent and consistent low growls, ripping basslines and relentless blast beats. “The Isolationist” provides the same punishing death metal truth as “Anomos” which further carries the band’s ultimate message: “DEATH METAL PREVAILS”, which also appears at the end of the credits on Mesonoxian. Then, finally, we get to “Quarantined”, which has the most melodic section on the record by this point. It has a tremolo outro that uses metal’s signature “sad scale” and paints a dismal picture of growth from decay, or perhaps triumph from misery. A 3 part death metal masterpiece follows this change of pace, called “Philosophiae Naturalis- The Portents of Ash- Shaytan”, made up of tracks 6-8, respectively titled, “Omen of the Adversary”, “Under Shifting Sands”, and “Glassstorms”. “Under Shifting Sands” is a straight forward injection of grind, doom, crunch and melody, and was the first single released by the band for the album. Other songs stood out to me a little more on the track list, but given their diehard death metal demographic, “Under Shifting Sands” is a smart single choice. “Fields of Stone” is the next standalone track and has a devastatingly powerful and emotional outro. It’s very doomy, melodic and extremely well composed. Matt’s keys return here and slow harmonized leads make for a fitting finale to a truly driving song. Afterwards, the boys close the album out the way it begins with “Retribution” and the title track, “Mesonoxian”. These two last songs rip and leave you wanting more. The roller coaster has stopped too soon and you feel like you haven’t gotten your money’s worth. All the more reason to get excited for the forthcoming second album or a live show!
Seplophile will be performing at Broadway Joes in Buffalo on Sunday 4/26 with Buffalo thrash legends, Hellcannon and New York death metal legends, Incantation (Relapse Records, Necropolis Records, Listenable Records). If you want to relive death metal’s glory days through a rejuvenated sound, be at this show. If you haven’t listened to Seplophile yet, do so.
If you’re less into traditional death and more into bands that wave the “deathcore” flag like White Chapel, Suicide Silence or Chelsea Grin, you might be disappointed. But if you fall somewhere in between, you might just find that Seplophile has a little something for everyone craving a little bit of heavy.
Key Tracks: Quarantined, Fields of Stone, Under Shifting Sands