Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony

We were given a glimpse of Fleshgod Apocalypse's potential in 2009 with their debut release Oracles, which was well received by the masses for its unique symphonic twist, something not often seen in technical death metal. Quickly word began spreading of the Italy based band and soon ensued an onslaught of tours along side metal tyrants Decrepit Birth and Decapitated on the Summer Slaughter tour, one of the most popular summer concerts in North America. Having made a successful and impacting start, can Fleshgod Apocalypse harness their power and come through with an even more substantial follow up?

Genre: Symphonic/Technical Death Metal
Release Date: August 9th, 2011

  1. Temptation
  2. The Hypocrisy
  3. The Imposition
  4. The Deceit
  5. The Violation
  6. The Egoism
  7. The Betrayal
  8. The Forsaking
  9. The Oppression
  10. Agony
Total Play Time:  49 minutes, 46 seconds





Rating: 9.5/10






We were given a glimpse of Fleshgod Apocalypse's potential in 2009 with their debut release Oracles, which was well received by the masses for its unique symphonic twist, something not often seen in technical death metal. Quickly word began spreading of the Italy based band and soon ensued an onslaught of tours along side metal tyrants Decrepit Birth and Decapitated on the Summer Slaughter tour, one of the most popular summer concerts in North America. Having made a successful and impacting start, can Fleshgod Apocalypse harness their power and come through with an even more substantial follow up?

Everything in Agony is intricately woven together. The orchestral compositions embroider the guitars, making the sound all the more fluid and melodious. The album opens with an incredibly mature, skillful instrumental symphony which is reminiscent of a war march. Without hesitation, the track plunges into the next seamlessly and "The Hypocrisy" erupts with sheer intensity, flaunting a more refined and mastered style. This is also the track that introduces the use of bassist Paolo Rossi's clean vocals, previously experimented with on the 2010 Mafia EP, which are intensified by his unbridled raw emotion. Not to say that the ever familiar growling vocals are not present, but are just as abundant and even more aggressive than in earlier material with the introduction of vocals from all members of the band, instead of just one.



Another track that really expresses the raw intensity of the newly introduced element of clean vocals is "The Deceit". Commanding prodigious power, the chorus hits with immense impact and urging the sense of needing to break free from oppressive forces.

"You! Mystificator!
You! The one we despise!
Falling hegemony!
You! The fallen empire!"

Also, this song really showcases the near inhuman machine-gun drumming done by lead guitarist/vocalist Francesco Paoli. The drumming does call into question the use of very minimal synthesizer fillers or an overlaid drum machine, due to the sheer BPM being pumped out. Either way, the drums bring a heavy kicker along with lightning fast drum rolls and intensify the elegant chaos of the other instruments by staying driven and brutal.

Sophisticated. Guitarist Cristiano Trionfera's contribution to the orchestral compositions, which are very reminiscent of the bands Italian heritage, are the defining point that separates the material released on Agony apart from previous material. Rather than having sections set aside for pianos and synthesizers, they are spread throughout the entire album. Francesco Ferrini, who only worked previously on Oracles, returns and gives Trionfera's compositions life and depth with stylish mastery of the keyboards and synths.

Constructively speaking the only complaint with this, and with Agony itself, is that the audio quality is under par for symphonic metal of any kind. Slightly dampened atmospheres become more two-dimensional and flat, and some of the fantastically orchestrated parts are lost as the drums take over and at some points even consume the guitars and bass as well. Which leads to another point to mention, that the bass is simply mixed too low or are too overpowered by the bass drum to be heard very well.

A tragic opera gone awry is the feel given by the material on this album. Sad, chaotic and sophisticated. Another track well worth pointing out is "The Forsaking" which brings about a black metal style, which is presented strongly in the vocals and drumming. This is also the slowest, most haunting track present. Simply put, Agony is a brilliant masterpiece of symphonic technical death metal work which shows great talent through each respective member. This is not an album to be passed up.

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