Album Review: DeathOrchestra – Symphony Of Death


Album Review: DeathOrchestra - Symphony Of Death
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

‘Symphony of Death’ is a real curiosity and an album that I really don’t quite know what to make. When metal meets the orchestra, the results can be quite breath taking. This year for example, Triptykon’s ‘Reqiuem’ and Septicflesh’s ‘Infernus Sinfonica ‘are both stunning pieces of work. Incredible forms of art. It doesn’t always work out that way. ‘S&M2’ for example, became an exercise in self-indulgence. The difference with all those recordings is of course that they featured the artists with orchestras.

This is a different matter altogether. Few outfits are revered in the metal world as Death. Chuck Schuldiner’s legacy, seven albums that form a discography few can match. So, combining Russian death metal outfit Buicide with the Olympic Symphony Orchestra to provide instrumental versions of seven Death classics is a brave and potentially divisive move. To record it live in the Opera Concert Club in St Petersburg on 4th May 2019 in front of a full house of rabid Russian metalheads takes it to another level. And you know what, overall, it bloody works.

Album Review: DeathOrchestra - Symphony Of Death

Now, the purists amongst the metal world will shriek and wail, this is sacrosanct music, that shouldn’t be touched but left to be listened to in its purist form and enjoyed by generations to come. Well, that may be so, but I don’t believe Buicide have done this with any intention other than to pay homage. The four-piece are tight, on point and focused and in Roman Gubarik they possess a drummer who handles the challenging drum parts with an ease that can only be classed as infuriatingly good.

The sound is excellent, although the splicing together leaves a bit to be desired, gaps of silence between the songs a little amateurish. Aside from that, the Orchestra bring a different perspective, the brass sections complimenting the racing strings, although I never thought I would hear ‘Scavenger of Human Sorrow’ played with trumpets and the like. With a release like this, picking apart each track is pointless. The combination of the soaring strings, the racing brass sections with the thunderous blast beats, rumbling bass and intelligent guitar work all combine solidly and present an interesting take. In fact, the centre piece of this 36-minute recording stands with ‘Scavenger’ and a spectacular ‘Spirit Crusher’ which is quite majestic at times. If you find the video of this recording on YouTube, you’ll appreciate the intricate and complex work of Artistic Director Aleksey Stepanov and the effort of Conductor Sergei Zavarykin as the track arrives at its climax. You should also enjoy the numerous circle pits and the two devotees windmilling on the barrier for the entire song. The conclusion comes with a mighty ‘Pull the Plug’ which features the most astonishing jazz trumpet solo mid-song.

I’ve played this several times and it certainly is a grower. If you dislike the orchestral elements, then you’ll hate it. Some might say that this is sacrilege. For me it’s brave, audacious and it works. Why not open the mind, embrace something a little different and give it a go?

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