01. In Honour Of Reason
02. Post-Enlightenment Executor
03. As Tyrants Fall
04. Sophistic Demise
05. Requiem in SJ Minore
06. At The Guillotine
07. Embodied Deception
08. Infection of the White Throne
09. Retrieving My Carcass
2009 Willowtip Records
An undeniable bond exists between classical music and certain types of metal. Players spend years developing their craft and displays of musical virtuosity are often expected rather than appreciated. Songs often flow from segment to segment in ways more akin to movements in a symphony than a verse/chorus pop progression. For some reason, every Christmas old people flock to hear members of Savatage play seasonal tunes as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Italian death metal act Fleshgod Apocalypse certainly aren't the first band to realize this and focus on that similarity. They believe that what sets them apart from their peers is their inclusion of operatic interludes and an extremely general classical influence on their songwriting. As it turns out, those things don't necessarily hurt but what really makes Oracles special is its extremely proficient playing and memorable guitar work. I can't blame them for wanting that little extra edge while vying for the attention of a fickle audience in an overcrowded genre, but the band's music succeeds without the gimmick.
Francesco Paoli of Hour Of Penance fronts this tech death group and fans of that band's brand of relentless and punishing metal should find as much or more to enjoy on Fleshgod Apocalypse's debut full-length. The drumming rarely lets up its breakneck pace, the guitar riffs are so good, I found myself humming them in the shower. The solos frequently call to mind guitar heroes Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen. The whole thing is recorded well and mixed perfectly. Even the Neverending Story-gone-apocalyptic artwork and tongue in cheek tuxedo photos are pitch perfect representations of the album and band respectively.
Everything begins with a few seconds of orchestral warmup before the scathing album opener "In Honour Of Reason." Honestly. A few seconds at the beginning, a ten second interlude towards the end and a few lines backed by a barely audible opera singer. If you like tech death metal but for some reason tuned out when the word "classical" got thrown out there, you can rest assured the band incorporates this stuff sparingly throughout the album. Standout second track "Post-Enlightenment Executor" avoids these flourishes altogether. When the orchestral and operatic bits do appear, they never feel forced or out of place. "As Tyrants Fall" contains both the band's most successful genre-bending moment during its final solo and one of its least in the interlude that follows. On repeat listens, even this one slightly less cohesive moment serves to break up what might otherwise have been an overwhelming listen. The disc keeps up the pace and the quality throughout, consistently displaying the remarkable talents of all the band's members, particularly on centerpieces "Requiem in SJ Minore" and "At The Guillotine."
Bottom Line: Fleshgod Apocalypse's debut album is easily one of the most memorable and remarkable metal albums of early 2009. Fans of extreme death metal looking for an accomplished band with a flair for theatrics and a knack with melodies should embrace these guys with open arms. If you're generally into acts in the Willowtip, Neurotic or Unique Leader families, check out Oracles.