Fleshgod Apocalypse - Veleno - (9/10)
Published on May 17, 2019
Kicking off with the rough and highly technical debut “Oracles”, adding the symphonic side on “The Agony” and further developing it into a full cinematic orchestral aura on the “Labyrinth” and “King” this legendary band needs little introduction. Fleshgod Apocalypse are the Italian wizards that put together the technical and the symphonic sides of death metal and made it work. Their firmly convincing four album catalog explored and exploited far and deep into every corner of their trademark and reached a very successful peak that would leave one asking, what’s left for album five? Well as happens with most bands, once they tweak and perfect their sound to the fullest, they end up in a situation where it becomes difficult to create something entirely new while also staying true to their predefined DNA. That means that Veleno is in many ways similar to its predecessor. However, Fleshgod Apocalypse are far from losing their fire, as their brand is one that doesn’t easily wither away and I feel that they have room left for at least one more similar release after this one before a more radical change would actually be necessary. As “King” was for “Labyrinth”, “Veleno” is for “King”. It’s the bigger brother, it’s a bit more and it’s a bit better.
The album’s lyrical concept is where I feel that the band really touched new territory. “Veleno” is the Italian word for venom and it relates to human’s tendency to poison themselves and the world around. In relation to the music, it gives their evil sometimes tragic sound a bit more of an intoxicating psychotic tone. Especially the first single titled “Sugar” does this best, speaking directly about the use of drugs. Apart of this feeling, the band maintains their ongoing frenzy of blistering riffs, epic melodies and the flow between songs to the same high standard. Especially their drumming, I always felt was cartoonishly fast. While many metal drum sounds have been associated to machine guns before, Fleshgod Apocalypse seem to have a fully equipped commando team behind them. This also guides a lot of the guitar and bass lines to grind away relentlessly but the guitars also work at creating the cinematic feel of the music along with the piano and orchestrations of keyboard hero Francesco Ferrini.
As previous albums have also done, Veleno does have breather tracks that allow for the melodic symphonic side to take the lead over the aggressive technical aspects. Such songs are “Monnalisa”, “The Day We’ll Be Gone” and “Embrace the Oblivion”. This is also the context where guest opera singer Veronica Bordachini can make a successful appearance. Her presence on Fleshgod’s albums seems to have become a tradition since 2013’s “Labyrinth” and allows the dramatic feel of their symphonic side to take shape and come alive in full. And of course it’s a great contrast to front man Francesco Paoli’s corrosive evil snarls. On “The Day We’ll Be Gone” their radically different styles often overlap creating an amazing vocal dynamic and it’s a brilliant standout moment that deserved its own shout out. Of course diving deeper into the vocal part of the album, it gets even more diverse adding bassist Paolo Rossi’s theatrical cleans, the recited bits and a few lyrics in Italian. That’s a lot that can be said about vocals in such an instrumentally rich album.
While mentioning traditions, it seems again that Fleshgod finish their album with an instrumental piano focused title track. And with my rambling over as well, I invite you to check out this amazing band if you haven’t so far. For those of you who are already eagerly awaiting Veleno, stay tuned as the venom and Sugar will flow through your bloodstream in just a few days! May the 24th be with you.