Fleshgod Apocalypse
Agony


3.5
great

Review

by Crowe USER (5 Reviews)
August 4th, 2011 | 133 replies | 26,130 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "You get someone that likes it and then someone that doesn't"

13 of 13 thought this review was well written

Give one listen to Agony, and you will realize that this isn't the same Fleshgod Apocalypse that brought long-haired metalheads their Oracles album and Mafia EP in 2009 and 2010, respectively. No, these Italians aren't the same at all. A symphony of albeit artificial strings and sweeping, storming piano chords picks listeners up on the instrumental, beckoning opener of “Temptation” and then leads them into what could only be described as a fully enthralling, cinematic extreme metal experience of pure Agony. According to vocalist and guitarist Cristiano Trionfera in a video interview with The Gauntlet just a couple of weeks ago in July, “This is the first time we are realizing the real idea of what we are,” when speaking of Agony; and then stating later when he was looking over the band's work leading up to its new album: “I like Oracle; I like Mafia. . . . But this time we realized our dream, to do, like, an orchestral, symphonic album, not just putting some keyboards on the songs.”

The interviewer for The Gauntlet, Jason Fisher, almost sounded as if he were smiling when he asked from behind the camera, “Did you guys ever get any backlash from, like, death metal purists?” Trionfera, who was with drummer Francesco Paoli, looked at his companion and mumbled a few words, and then looked back to Fisher, hesitantly: “Yeah, of course. Every time you change . . . you get someone that likes it and then someone that doesn't.”

Trionfera's last sentence will prove to be the summary line for many-a-review for Fleshgod Apocalypse's Agony – just watch: this is divisive stuff. As fast, pummeling, and, err, sweeping, as the music these Italians have brought to the table can be, many will be offset for the dive into Dimmu Borgir-like territory that the band has taken itself. First proper track “The Hypocrisy” offers listeners everything from forlorn, wailing male and female vocalists in the background to a full-on symphonic death metal assault, coming custom-fit with snarls, growls, distortion, and an impressive drumming performance from Paoli. And Agony hardly lets up from there either, too.

Look deeper into the strings and beneath the extra vocalist inclusions of Agony, however, and you will see an impressive improvement on Fleshgod Apocalypse's part since we last heard from them, though. When Trionfera alluded to the band actually writing the songs for Agony on the basis of the symphonics and the drums in the interview with Fisher – not being as just a hindsight inclusion – he wasn't joking. The frequent chord changes and the very flow of the songs themselves are impressive: Fleshgod Apocalypse's overall improvement in the area of their songwriting can't be denied.

For instance, Fleshgod Apocalypse love to slow the music down to bare keyboard symphonics so as to lure the listener into a restful state - and then, all the sudden they launch in for a death metal assault again, just as hell-raising as the last. This happens frequently on Agony: on the opener, “Temptation”, to the aforementioned storm of “The Hypocrisy”; from the “The Imposition” to “The Deceit”; from the riveting highlight “The Betrayal” to the mid-tempo, and welcomed respite, “The Forsaking”; and finally, from the prior to the final onslaught of symphonic death hurricane, the aptly-titled “The Oppression”. Of course, this slow-to-fast gimmick for the music is predictable on the fourth go around when it occurs on just one listen to Agony. However, it's the Italians' ability to do it as seamlessly as they do that deserves recognition.

If you thought this year's literal death metal symphony, The Great Mass, from Greece's Septic Flesh was impressive, Agony will have you clasping with all your might to your computer chairs – or wherever you may be in its attention – just in order to hang on. But the difference between The Great Mass and Agony, however, is that the prior actually uses a real choir and orchestra: Agony is, admittedly, a fake. But it does make up for it by not having a nasally frontman, like a certain Sotiris Vayenas, and at the end of the day, Fleshgod Apocalypse are the real ones that truly keep the death metal constituent of their sound as the main driving factor in the sound mix, whereas Septic Flesh get a little too lost in their show.

The negatives of Septic Flesh's work still apply to Fleshgod Apocalypse's bombastic cacophony on Agony, however: As pulse-pounding as these songs are, the symphonic elements make a mockery of the death metal atmosphere of the music at the end of the day, no matter which of the two is the more prevalent to be heard on the mix of the album. For years, this was a problem that single-manned Hollenthon and the very veterans of the style from Greece, Septic Flesh, were running into with their work to traditionalists' chagrin, and while the latter band's and this year's Agony by Fleshgod Apocalypse are showing signs that a balance can be reached between symphonics and death metal in the future – at least to a place where the end product sounds at least decent to traditionalists – a firm, pervasive air of cheesiness still runs through the sound of the album. And this is something that Agony just can't escape, despite its onslaught of distortion.

This is where Trionfera's quote and unofficial summary of the article comes into play: “You get someone that likes it and then someone that doesn't.” As well-played as Agony is, and as much as Fleshgod Apocalapse have improved as songwriters, the album itself cannot escape the fact that it is just another hybrid-mutant symphonic death metal circus. So while, yes, your typical cave-lurking Incantation-til-death metalhead will, as predicted, hate Agony, those that can stomach it will find a lot to love here. Instrumentally, the guitars and especially the drumming of Paoli are all top-notch, and while the symphonics are a wank-fest for Dimmu fans everywhere, the songwriting behind them and their fit into the music's flow is impressive. You won't do better, as far as symphonic death metal goes, then Agony, or The Great Mass too for that matter, but for its strengths, Agony easily gives the latter a run for its money. The Italians deserve a hand here - a job well done.


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Chart.
3.6
great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Crowe
August 4th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Stream:http://www.decibelmagazine.com/album-streams/

Warning: you must be a subscriber.

Maniac!
August 4th 2011



26246 Comments


02. The Hypocrisy
03. The Imposition
04. The Deceit
05. The Violation
06. The Egoism
07. The Betrayal
08. The Forsaking
09. The Oppression



lol

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
August 4th 2011



6923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great detail, pos.

DoubtGin
August 4th 2011



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, great album

YetAnotherBrick
August 4th 2011



4384 Comments


i hate it when albums have a lot of songs that start with "the" lol

toolguitarkid
August 4th 2011



261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

had a hard time getting into this...however i think its growing on me, too bad i dont think it will rank anywhere near Oracles...


Hawks
August 4th 2011



34239 Comments


Really didn't think too much of their last album so I doubt I'll be getting this.

Digging: Manners - Pale Blue Light

Crowe
August 5th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Hawks, they sound fairly different from each other. It's worth a shot. Youtube "The Egoism".

Thanks.

Comatorium.
August 5th 2011



4086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album slays.

DeconstruKt
August 5th 2011



8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's a solid 4 for me.

ctaxxxx
August 5th 2011



222 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like it better than Oracles. Actually sounds like a true symphonic death metal band now.

Crowe
August 5th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, the symphonic bits on Oracles did sound a bit tacked on.

Pr0nogo
August 5th 2011



373 Comments


Misspelled 'Apocalypse' a few times.

Decent review. Mine won't submit to the site for some reason, unfortunately. Some really good listens on here.

Crowe
August 6th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Got them, and thanks.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
August 6th 2011



8317 Comments


Very good review, a job well done. As for the album, I am really, really on the fence. On one hand, I did enjoy Oracles and I'm glad to hear that they've maintained a good balance between the death and the symphonic parts on this new one, but damn, symphonic metal cheesiness is the worst kind of cheesiness. It just pushes me to look the other way.

Crowe
August 6th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks, Metalstyles. Yes, the cheesiness will turn off many, but at least the clean vocal sections don't ruin the mood. I'd prefer none of the female inclusions, but they're rare.

toolguitarkid
August 8th 2011



261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this finally drew me in. this is awesome

dogmaster
August 8th 2011



74 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have trouble finding death metal albums that stand out as much as this one. I'm not sure if that warrants a higher rating or not though.

Crowe
August 8th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

That depends really. It's certainly good to be different and stand out from the crowd, though, sure.

hotshotvegetarian
August 9th 2011



129 Comments


Thanks for the good review, posd



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