The kings of symphonic death metal are back. Having released King to much praise from both fans and the media alike, things have not been plain sailing for Fleshgod Apocalypse with frontman Tomasso Riccardi departing the band along with guitarist Cristiano Trionfera. Fleshgod did not let this affect them, however, with Francesco Pauli re-assuming the mantle of vocalist and guitarist as well as performing drums on the album. Furthermore, the band also worked with a range of musicians including full string quartet and a baroque choir to name a few. With this renewed lineup and myriad of musicians, have they been able to create something that rivals their previous records?
Right from the first few seconds of album opener “Fury”, it is clear that being down to three main members has not affected the band one bit. The “organised chaos” that was present on previous albums is still very much present, yet is more controlled with nothing being out of place. “Carnivorous Lamb” and “Sugar” continue this theme with the latter having an incredibly catchy chorus (which someone on the video misheard as “Porsche” instead of “Push”).
“Absinthe” is one song which bucks the trend slightly however. Starting out with the usual elements of symphony and death metal, the song takes a turn by introducing a fantastic whispered/sung section in the middle with a piano counter melody behind. It then continues into a suitably epic chorus which would not be out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster if they used metal songs. “The Day We’ll Be Gone” again turns the epic factor up to 11 with the haunting vocals of Veronica Bordacchini and the epic orchestral parts providing the perfect cherry on top of the cake.
Penultimate track “Embrace The Oblivion” brings back a lot of the traditional Fleshgod elements but once again in a much more refined manner. Contrasting vocals between Paoli and Rossi, driving drums and the orchestrations of Ferini culminate in what is arguably one of the best tracks on the album. As with “Absinthe” this could easily be the soundtrack to a blockbuster movie. Title track “Veleno” brings an end to proceedings in much the same manner that the final track on previous album King did. A piano piece showcasing the fantastic abilities of Ferini and a fine ending to the album.
As has been mentioned in this review, everything on this album seems much more controlled. Unlike previous releases where speed made up a lot of formula, this work instead focuses on the overall piece and as a result feels more complete. With Veleno, Fleshgod Apocalypse have created an album that feels much more mature and as one piece of music than a selection of songs on an album. Nothing is out of place and it as if the “fine wine” of the band has fully matured and become a delicious well rounded Italian refreshment. And yes, you can buy Fleshgod Apocalypse wine. It’s delicious.
Veleno is released on the 24th May