Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony

Review: Fleshgod Apocalypse – Agony

Agony (2011)

Italy, Nuclear Blast, Symphonic Technical Death Metal

I really don’t know where to start with an album like this. The entire release, all 49 minutes and 46 seconds of it, contains enough musicianship to put the average tech-death band out of business. And yet again, I’m completely lost for words trying to write about this.

Compared to Fleshgod’s first 2 releases (The Mafia EP and Oracles), the album experiments with more orchestral elements, this time as a driving melodic force, rather than a semi-gimmick revealed occasionally. For example, Thru Our Scars contains about 2 seconds of poorly played violin, and some falsetto vocals. However, this entire album is powered and directed by a string section, which I think is different to say the least.

The album has a different semi-gimmick this time. I say semi-gimmick because it’s an act purposely utilized for a noticeable reaction, but not corny, like Slipknot‘s masks. The album has 10 songs. In order they are Temptation, The Hypocrisy, The Imposition, The Deceit, The Violation, The Egoism, The Betrayal, The Forsaking, The Oppression, and Agony. If you didn’t notice what the middle 8 songs have in common, I’m seriously sorry for you, and won’t waste any of my self-set 800 word limit spoon feeding. FYI, the first and last songs are also instrumentals, and the 2 shortest songs, at 1:50 and 3:34 respectively.

The album kicks off slowly, with a full orchestra providing an atmoshperic introduction. Seriously, I could cut the air with a bread knife. It’s the sort of background music that could be used as a horror film trailer soundtrack. It’s perfect for death metal.

The first proper song is called The Hypocrisy, and sets a standard for the album to follow with. A string section utilizes every part next to the basic metal outfit of 2 guitars, bass, vocals and drums. The power it creates in like watching Noneuclid when they play live with a full orchestra. Just perfect. About halfway through, and at the end, there’s a section for Paolo Rossi to show off his talents at male falsetto. And he’s gotten good since the Mafia EP. I mean good. The addition of this section is like the harmony in the middle of the perfect heavy metal song. Except it’s somehow harmonised with an offbeat blast beast on the ride. Again, perfect.

The album carries on for a little while, with falsetto sections in each song, until the end of the fourth song, entitled The Deceit. At this point there’s a chance for a breather, while a slow instrumental takes centre stage, which introduces the fifth masterpiece, a faster ditty know as The Violation. This time, just the string section, no full orchestra, bar the odd ride tap. In The Violation‘s music video, this is heard at the start, crescendo-ing to reach the tempo of the song. It’s fair to say, after the first half of the album, that not a foot has been set wrong, and all the stops have been pulled out. The band really outdid themselves.

The second half, I have to say, is just as awesome. Rarely does a band remain consistent in musicianship throughout a release, especially one as unique, consonant and mindblowing as this. But I have to congratulate these guys, they’re among my top Italian bands, with Sadist and Hour of Penance.

The Egoism is one of my personal favourites from this album. The bowed strings add a crushing sound complimenting the drums perfectly, with a riff at the start that blows every riff on the album so far out of the water. for these few seconds, inhuman double-bass speed takes over a chugged guitar part, complete with pinch harmoics on the low strings. Again, they’ve proved to be incredible musicians as a quintet.

Two songs later, we get a full change of speed. This time, a softer song takes over, entitled The Forsaking. For this one, everything changes. Not just the speed. The orhcestral backing is now leading the song with a piano ostinato, the drums play a slow double-bass beat to hold it all together. It’s still a metal song, but by God, it’s beautiful. What really drags this song up the ramp to godliness is the sound of the vocals. A lot slower, same range, but a lot more distorted and quiet. It’s like listening to a more symphonic Coldworld song. The operatic vocals are more scarce, appearing only to back up the lead.

The Oppression finishes the album’s metal side off with a dose of brutality once more, before the final song, Agony, draws this rather eventful album to a close. Agony is another instrumental, this time purely piano for 3 and a half minutes.

The one thing that this album could change, is to make the guitars more audible, since the bowed strings run everything. But apart from that, an incredible album.

Rating: 10/10

Author: InexorableRotting

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