Francesco Paoli’s leave from Hour of Penance has done the metal community a world of unprecedented good by giving birth to Fleshgod Apocalypse, the newest tech death outfit to take the metal world by storm. Hailing from Rome, the relentlessly brutal riffs brought them to the well-deserved forefront of the scene, showing impressive skill on their full-length Oracles. Now, with the backing of metal behemoth Nuclear Blast, the band has been able to explore the alluring blend of brutal death metal with lilting symphonic arrangements, creating one of the year’s best metal compositions.
To the ever-scoffing metal purist, this is an instant warning sign. Countless metal bands have fallen into the snare of symphonic additions to their music, usually to their demise, as their loyal fanbase turns away at the sound of a 70’s retro moog synth ruining all the riffs. Indeed, the false sense of superiority that comes with adding such trivialities should be well noted. However, while the examples are few and far between, some truly astounding music has come as a result of the clash of brutal death metal and classical orchestration (Septic Flesh’s The Great Mass has often been cited as one such example). Agony is yet another notable exception, moving past the gimmicky aspect of symphonic metal and creating one of the most honest and emotive death metal albums ever.
With most death metal bands, fanbases are generally pleased with whatever the band puts out, usually only because it has the same characteristic sound as the releases that made them so iconic. Fleshgod Apocalypse derails that confining trend by absorbing rich and complex orchestral arrangements while still holding together. And it holds together quite impressively. As one would expect, the album opens with an eerie composition of blaring horns and ominous strings, which naturally give way to the intentionally stark contrast of blast beats and palm-muted riffs of the first track “The Hypocrisy”. Otherwise, all the songs fit together very nicely. The guitar riffs that seem to battle with the furious violins make for an album that moves with grace, and Paoli’s insane drumming satisfies the cravings of tech death fans. On top of it all, Riccardi employs a variety of vocal styles, from death metal growls, to black metal shrills heard in tracks like “The Oppression”. But the most surprising element is bass player Paolo Rossi, who offers clean vocals that, at some points, would seem better on an opera stage than in a metal album. A real opera singer makes an appearance in the second single “The Egoism”, cawing out among waves of double bass beats. While shocking at first, the clean singing fits in very well with the mood of the album, and Fleshgod Apocalypse are no worse off for it.
For all of the great work that went into this album, its problem is that it has a tendency to drag, most of the songs coming close to 6 minutes or longer. This could be due to their attempt to combine metal with classical music, and their desire to let both have their own place. But as noble as their efforts are to mend the two together, lilting classical pieces and brutal death metal will have to compromise at some fronts. With their focus on the former, the death metal elements suffer from offering little more to the table – the guitar and bass lines, for example, simply follow the orchestra, instead of complimenting them. And to handle all these different elements thrown together, the guitars and drums lack a certain sense of brutality they would otherwise have if left to their own devices. Even the vocals, at some points, seem polished and made to sit behind the orchestra instead of being at the forefront of the action. A shame, considering the fact that the lyrics to most of the songs are introspective and comment on the crumbling politics of Italy, told in storyline fashion.
Everything - from the addition of Francesco Ferrini as piano player to the writing of interesting classical pieces that support the music – shows that Fleshgod Apocalypse is committed to this new direction in their music, and while it’s hard to accept a true compromise among the two styles of music, this album comes close to holding hands with both, presenting a brutally wonderful death metal album that many fans are sure to enjoy.
2. The Hypocrisy
3. The Imposition
4. The Deceit
5. The Violation
6. The Egoism
7. The Betrayal
8. The Forsaking
9. The Oppression
Fleshgod Apocalypse is a brutal death metal band from Rome, Italy formed in 2007 by Hour of Penance member Francesco Paoli (Drums/Guitars/Backing vocals) , Christiano Trionfera (Guitars) and Paolo Rossi (Vocals/Bass, Promaetheus Unbound). Francesco Struglia joined the band after on Drums but leaving in 2008 due to personal interest change and other commitments. The band was previously known as the death/thrash metal act Tyrannic Ethical Reconstruction.... read more