Album Review: Fleshgod Apocalypse – Agony

Fleshgod Apocalypse [Italy]
Agony
2011
Full Length
Nuclear Blast Records
Symphonic/Technical Death Metal
8.2/10

Fleshgod Apocalypse returns this year with their sophomore album, Agony, complete with a brand new logo, opting to go for a simplistic font-type style, replacing their previous typical death metal-styled logo. Do not, however, be fooled into thinking that this would mark a simplification of the songwriting of Fleshgod Apocalypse as Agony displays the band’s foray into more symphonic grounds.

Agony opens with the introductory track Temptation, putting the listener immediately into what seems like the middle of a horror/thriller, with the ominous orchestration in the background, slowly building up the tension and the climax in the music before seamlessly going into the first proper track, The Hypocrisy without any awkwardness at all, where the drums of Francesco (Paoli) greets the listener, a prelude of the chaos that is to befall the listener in a short while. With a deep guttural growl, all hell breaks loose as the guitars, bass, drums and most importantly, the orchestration begins the blasting in unison.

This is also perhaps when old fans of Fleshgod Apocalypse would notice the significant shift of style, with the band going towards a more bombastic, orchestral sound in the music compared to the pretty raw and almost strictly technical style on 2009’s Oracles. The emphasis on the orchestration on the album has been a point of conflict between old fans of the band and new, which is certainly not an invalid point. However, it can’t be denied that the inclusion of the heavy symphonic elements has definitely added a new edge in the band’s music, aiding the band in displaying the emotions on the various tracks. Besides, the strong symphonic elements at times remind the listener of legendary Japanese band X Japan, such as the last few moments of The Imposition and this certainly bodes well for fans of the aforementioned band.

In addition, the band has also decided to include elements such as clean vocals and at times the background shouting by bassist Paolo, which constantly makes appearances throughout the album. Paolo consistently proves that he is a capable vocalist in his own rights through the high-pitched and powerful high notes on songs like The Hypocrisy, The Deceit and The Violation.

One thing that may also put old fans of listeners off might be how the orchestra drowns out the guitars on the album. The loudness of the album is also evident in how the drums and vocals tend to drown out all other instruments along with the orchestral arrangements on the album. That being said, lead guitars are often not buried and often soar above the rest of the instruments and display the neo-classical and melodic tendencies of guitarists Cristiano and Tommasco. The loud production certainly sat well with me personally as it enables the drumming of Francesco Paoli to shine through with his insanely fast and constant footwork, much as some would criticise him as just blasting brainlessly.

Another aspect that managed to make Agony such a fun listen is how the band has managed to make the individual songs flow seamlessly between each other, almost without any break at all from start to end, ensuring that the listener does not come back to listening to the album just for individual tracks, but making the album an entire experience by itself. This album, as per the previous album, ends with a piano-driven, classical track Agony, a beautiful and fitting end to this masterpiece.

Few bands manage to pull off the feat of including heavy symphonic elements into extreme metal well, and Fleshgod Apocalypse has proven their songwriting ability and level of musicianship through the release of Agony. Besides, what’s there to complain about with the superb arrangements on the album?

Related articles:
Interview with Fleshgod Apocalypse

Fleshgod Apocalypse on the internet:
Official website
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Nuclear Blast Records

©2011 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

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