Review Summary: Awash of the typical poisonous Fleshgod flair.
Since 2007, Fleshgod Apocalypse have been trying to force squares and circles together. I don't mean that in the literal "one plus two equals five" sort of way, but rather the death metal meets a symphony of classical arrangements in a whirlwind of saturation and overblown grandeur. It sounds harsh, like marrying a fish dish with cheese… and in the wrong instance it can be poison.
Often criticized for doing too much with too much, Fleshgod have always had an eye for cinematic chaos. The headway made on their debut, Oracles
was steeped in the potential for a band that could actually combine the ferocity and technical semblance of death metal with the grace and grandiosity of operatic vocals and classical composition while both Labyrinth
dial everything with intensity up to fourteen (out of ten just so you know…) crushing the listener sonically with little room to breathe under the suffocating multifaceted beast that calls itself Fleshgod Apocalypse. Despite this, Veleno
sees Fleshgod Apocalypse mature into their fifth full length, seeing a natural easement of sound while standing true to an essence of opposites attracting.
For those considering the comparison between the group's earlier releases and the current face of the band's branding there's actually very little that differs on paper. The classical components are pushed the forefront, competing wholy with sweeps, blast beats and deathly growls. The operatic leads are clean and precise, performed with excellence in mind. In many ways, Veleno
is the logical progression from the pulverising King
. However it's the noticeable difference in layering weight that works completely in Veleno
's favour. Sure all the flourishes that make this Perugia act so self definable pop up at almost every instance but the new album simply breathes better, allowing the sum of its parts to shine, competing with the next sparingly. "Fury" begins the record quite conventionally, thunderous riffs meet piano flourishes and the roar of Francesco Paoli. But it's "Sugar" where listeners can fully appreciate the true poison of Veleno
. The downright straightforwardness of the band's death metal parts play off intricate melodies and a veritable rollercoaster of orchestral nuances. As a separate entity, the track itself feels organic, more natural and less worked on. It's showcasing a band becoming more accessible for all the right reasons, leading easily back into a play of sounds in "Monnalisa" and the typical landscape of Fleshgod Apocalypse soundscapes.
The now organic feeling Veleno
presents only grows with repeated listens. Francesco Ferrini's orchestral accompaniments are no longer fighting for the limelight, now complimenting the outpouring of gravitational brutality proving that there is a better balance of sound than the band's former records. This allows the portrait to become lush, vivid and focused without forcing the listener to separate, exact and dissect in order to enjoy Fleshgod for the band they are trying to be. We're also not getting bludgeoned to death with Veronica Bordacchini's stunning soprano vocal dexterity which only adds to the level headedness of Veleno
's design. There's no doubt that Miss Veronica has immense talent, but like Labyrinth
have shown us before there can often be "too much" of a good thing.
When the sum of all Fleshgod Apocalypse's parts are considered together on their 2019 effort, the wholesome dexterity offered with simplicity and maturity offer an album both enjoyable and all together easier to digest than the band's catalogue. There may be a slight
step down here in terms of pure layered technicalities, but it comes with a moderate improvement of overall quality. If this album is poison
I'll take another carafe.