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Fleshgod Apocalypse - Veleno CD (album) cover

VELENO

Fleshgod Apocalypse

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Perhaps more than any other extreme metal band on the scene the Rome based Italian band FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE has been the most instrumental in keeping the symphonic branch of death metal in the spotlight and three years after the release of the band's previous album "King," returns with a brand spanking new slab of molten technical infused death metal along with the expected piano, choral vocals and operatic symphonic touches. VENENO (Italian for "poison") is the band's fifth overall full-length release and it carries on exactly how one would expect, that being an equal rich tapestry of classical music components that scanned the horizons of the past and channeled the compositional fortitude of the masters such as Paganini, Bach, Mozart and whoever else the trio led by Franceso Paoli could incorporate. Of course, for us brutal death metal lovers, it is the bombastic roar of the guitar, bass and drum that created the harsh counterpoints that was the draw with the orchestral parts providing Dr. Jekyll aspect while the Mr. Hyde metal created a neoclassical death metal firestorm.

While VENENO follows suit, what's instantly noticeable is how the orchestral parts have been tamped down a few notches and take a backseat to the fiery metal fury as heard on the opening "Fury" which completely eschews the long-winded orchestral classical build ups and just gets down to business with heavy crunchy death metal guitar riffs pummeling along at breakneck speed. In fact this is the album that emphasizes the orchestral parts the least of FLESHGOD's decade long string of albums as they don't really become a major tour de force until the fifth track "The Praying Mantis' Strategy" which is a short intermission and respite from the distortion fueled metal that dominated the soundscapes prior with only faint background traces. The symphonic elements carry over to "Worship And Forget" and then slowly retreat to the backdrop again however careful listening reveals that these classical elements are always lurking in the background and the main impetus for constructing the melodic flow, it's just that on VENENO they are suffocated by the pummeling death metal aspects which gives this album a different feel than its predecessors.

Another aspect that differentiates VENENO from the past is that album hosts a couple of guest musicians with Veronica Bordacchini on vocals and newbie Fabio Bartoletti on more guitars with Francesco Ferrini handling piano and orchestrations, newbie Paoli on vocals, guitars and drums and Paolo Rossi on bass and the sporadic clean vocals that pop up. Once again FLESHGOD creates an album that is graced with the perfect production job that allows the beautiful clean aspects to reverberate perfectly with the filthy raw bombast of the death metal that doesn't sound too polished. Perhaps it comes off as a little muddy at times, especially in the opening tracks but i think that's what the band was going for this time around. A full string quartet, a classical percussionist and a Baroque choir provide the symphonic touches and once again seamlessly meld with the death metal. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is the closest thing to a ballad the band has ever created in the form of "Pissing On The Score" which starts off as an opera with Veronica Bordacchini's diva tenor vocal talents taking the lead and then turns into a beauty and the beast duet. The track sounds more like something from Phantom of the Opera and never integrates the death metal. Hmmm? could these be a new phase? If so i don't like it but it's not bad as a one off for contrast.

All in all, VENENO is yet another exciting chapter in the FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE universe that continues the band's now rather infamous mashup of death metal and classical elements and tweaks them into a slightly different sounding album. VENENO is by no means going to win over any fans who have already fled the growly vocal fueled bombast of the death metal paradigm but neither will it offend those who have already signed up for the fan club. VENENO delivers all the expected goods and despite a feeling of the recycled riffs and overall feel of been there done that, VENENO cranks out enough spontaneity to keep my interest while retreading the rather lonely niche of performing extreme bombastic death metal with a full symphonic orchestra integrated. The performances on VENENO are top notch and although the ballad is the one track i could live without, the album is chock full of beautiful melodies and ugly brutality all swirled together like a copulating yin yang sign at the circus and for me that's good enough. While the actual album ends with the Chopin inspired title track which is mostly a piano workout, some albums include two bonus tracks including the Rammsteain cover of "Reise Reise" which is quite an interesting take on the German industrial band's 2004 song from the album of the same name. VENENO is yet another great album from FLESHGOD!

Report this review (#2238727)
Posted Thursday, July 18, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Between 2016's 'King' and 2019's 'Veleno', Fleshgod Apocalypse went through some major changes in that both guitarist/vocalist Cristiano Trionfera and vocalist/guitarist Tommaso Riccardi left the band for personal reasons. So for the album, the band stripped down to a three-piece in Francesco Paoli switching back to vocals and guitars as he did in the early days as well as providing drums, along with co-founder Paolo Rossi (clean vocals, bass) and Francesco Ferrini (piano, orchestrations). To be able to perform live they have also brought in drummer David Folchitto (Stormlord) and guitarist Fabio Bartoletti (Deceptionist), for when they hit the boards. Given the changes in personnel it perhaps isn't surprising that there has also been a slight change in approach to the music, in that although they are still using an orchestra and choirs they are now there more as support to the main death attack as opposed to be as closely linked as they were previously.

But yet again they are producing music which is unlike many others in the scene, which is really surprising given the line-up moves, and here they are again using real orchestral ensembles - a full string quartet, a classical percussionist, and a baroque choir - and guest musicians in the shape of Maurizio Cardullo (Folkstone) and Daniele Marinelli playing uilleann pipes and mandolin. They move between the Wagnerian Beethoven grandiosity which involves all elements into those which are more like symphonic death with orchestral support. Fleshgod Apocalypse are continuing to break musical boundaries and create something which is very special indeed. There is an easy commerciality within the songs, melodies which belie the brutality, and a fragility which is bolstered by something very concrete indeed. The band say this is their best release to date, and they just may be right.

Report this review (#2279948)
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2019 | Review Permalink

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