Fleshgod Apocalypse

Agony

Written by: MST on 18/08/2011 17:15:09

Symphonic Brutal Death Metal. Consider that for a moment. No, a little longer. There, that'll do.

Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse, formed by former Hour Of Pennance vocalist Francesco Paoli, have experimented with symphonies since their 2009 debut "Oracles". On that album, some songs started with, ended with or were split up by short snippets of classical music. In 2010 the "Mafia" EP continued in the same vein, but this time epic clean vocals that sounded almost operatic were added to the mix, courtesy of bassist Paolo Rossi. This year, the Italians have taken the symphonic elements to the next level, to the point where it fills more in the soundscape than any other instrument (save perhaps the drums). Prior to recording this album the band hired Francesco Ferrini as a full-time member - the man who had previously done the orchestral work and played the piano on the previous Fleshgod efforts. Needless to say, his role on this new album is a gazillion times bigger than on any of the previous releases.

After a 2-minute orchestral intro, "The Hypocrisy" opens the album with blasting drums, growls and the epic orchestra that completely blows your mind. I don't know what Francesco Ferrini did for a living before joining the Fleshgod, but I can only assume that he had some sort of education in symphonic music because his compositions are mind-blowing. They could easily be enjoyed by themselves or be used as themes for epic movies. But when topped by Francesco Paoli's blasting drums and Tommaso Riccardi's growled vocals, an intense cocktail of symphonic death metal is the result. And when the choruses with Paolo Rossi's epic clean vocals kick in, even more grandeur ensues. Most of the songs continue in the same vein of blasting, epic orchestral instrumentation, growls and clean vocals, but towards the end "The Forsaking" slows things down. The song is slightly reminiscent of Skyfire's "Esoteric" from 2009: the vocals sound like black metal screams, and apart from the drums the only instrument that can be heard all the way through is the piano. It is a massive song that showcases the band's ability to write slow, melancholic material as well. It is followed by another song that continues the blasting and speed of the rest of the songs, and it is as fantastic as the rest.

When I saw the video for "The Violation" I convinced myself that this album would be the album of the year. And when you have expectations like that, you're almost bound to get disappointed. And I did. Many reviewers have found a thing or two that make this album an excellent album instead of a perfect album. So have I: the riffs. Fleshgod Apocalypse's earlier offerings were full of great death metal riffs, but on "Agony" the orchestral elements have almost completely replaced the riffs. All the guitars really do here when they're not playing solos is creating a heavy background. Now don't get me wrong, the orchestrations work wonderfully on this album and every single song is as fantastic as the rest, but for the album to be the perfect album that I wanted it to be, there would have to have been room for both the symphonic elements and some excellent death metal riffs. If you've ever heard Septicflesh you know that's more than just possible.

"Agony" has been quite the success for Fleshgod Apocalypse - a few days after the album was released the album already had three times as many listens as their 2009 debut on last.fm - and not without reason. It is an amazing symphonic death metal album, and although it will not necessarily end up as the album of the year, It will definitely end up in my top 10.

9

Download: The Hypocrisy, The Imposition, The Violation, The Forsaking
For The Fans Of: Hour Of Pennance, Septicflesh, Dimmu Borgir gone Brutal Death Metal
Listen: MySpace

Release date 09.08.2011
Nuclear Blast

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