The wait is nearly over. “Agony” will be hitting the streets next week and what a welcome arrival it will be. Described as Italian technical death metal, I have to wonder what is in the water over there, because Italian bands sure know how to rock the symphonic metal. Imagine Rhapsody if they were playing brutal death metal and you start to enter the neighborhood of what I’m talking about here.
“Oracles” their first album really took me by surprise and showed me something slightly different from what I was used to in my death metal music. It was viciously brutal yet contained this symphonic element that rather than softening the blow actually made the heavy music seem even heavier. If you start thinking Dimmu or Cradle or anything symphonic black metal then you’ve turned down the wrong street. This is definitely death metal, just with a twist.
On “Agony” they’ve certainly matured and everything about them is a little bit better than the already near-perfect specimen of “Oracles”. There is just so much of what I love about metal in this music. Oh Fleshgod, let me count the ways in which I do love thee.
The production is top notch, which is always, always bonus points in my book. Yet the album sounds very fast and crushing brutal, something they achieve without muddying up the nice production. I love that playing this at loud volume will just sandblast my soul (that’s how I like to relax from a stressful day, just stand there and let the music blast away all the crap and emotional baggage that’s built up throughout the day.)
The fact that there is a great deal of symphonic material takes that base layer and makes it epic and Just. Fucking. Huge. I’m the kind of fantasy nerd that will just eat that stuff up. If this were an episode of Scrubs, my J.D. fantasy aside would be this: not only am I driving my enemies before me and eating up the lamentation of their women-folk, but I’m doing it with Hell’s orchestra in my back pocket and they are playing the musical score to accompany the apocalypse.
Then, as if I needed more at this point, we can mention the clean vocals. Having clean vocals to balance harsh vocals and add another dimension to the music is generally a good thing in my book. But does music this brutal really want clean vocals to dilute its venom? Yeah, why not. There really isn’t that much clean singing, but when there is, it is more of a background element that offsets how strong the harsh vocals are. Contrast is a good thing.
I also really like the transition from “The Forsaking” into “The Oppression”. The first track ends with a quiet piano key plunk fading into silence. Then a quick drum roll that jumps into the blast beats of the next track. I love dynamic changes like that.
I don’t expect “Agony” to be removed from my iPhone any time soon. This will be a go-to album for at least the next several months if not beyond. Congrats to Fleshgod Apocalypse on another killer album.