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When it comes to hyperspeed death metal, I've always been really picky-choosy about which bands I praised as awesome and which I condemned as pointless noodlers. I think Origin is great fun, but Brain Drill is so insane that its hypothetical brain has actually begun to deteriorate. This type of brutal technical melodic reversible what-have-you death metal walks a very fine line in terms of quality. When it spends too much time focusing on being brutal, it has a habit of sounding like one of the squintillion Suffocation clones, and when it takes a more precise approach, it carries a blinding sheen that totally overpowers the grit that is so important in the first half of death metal. The mushroom stomping plumbers in Fleshgod Apocalypse have found the line and straddled it beautifully (not much unlike your mom). If you want a visual representation of Oracles, think of the censored (but far superior) album art for the legendary Severed Survival by Autopsy. Make no mistake, this shit is brutal and dirty, yet also surgical and calculated. It's frenzied as much as it is barbaric and as precise as it is gritty. These motherfuckers got chocolate in my peanut butter, and god dammit I love them for it.
Like most brutal tech death albums, the experience runs for less than 40 minutes, but this is slightly disheartening in this case since the music is so damn superb. A lot of albums in this style have a nasty tendency of having one idea and stretching it out for the duration of the release, but Fleshgod has managed to take their one idea, hack it into nine little pieces, paint each piece a different color, and then intermittently sprinkle in a totally different idea along with it. What I mean is that every track is fast, intense, and filled with enough guitar theatrics to warrant an investment in fretboard pyrotechnics technology, but each track stands out as it's own entity as opposed to one faceless blur of minigun-esque percussion and more sweeps than Mickey Mouse could ever command. Take this profound songwriting talent and combine it with classical passages tastefully placed throughout and you've got yourself one of the very few song oriented brutal tech death albums. I won't lie to you and say this is as blatantly varied as, say Beyond the Permafrost, but it's more like one of Rhapsody's finer moments. Every track follows the same basic idea (in this case, warp speed brutality and finesse) but they all kick insurmountable ass. There are a few parts like the chugging section in "Infection of the White Throne" and downtempo segments in "Requiem in SI Minore" that deviate from the cast somewhat, but on the whole you know what you'll be getting once the album starts.
That said, these noble Romans were kind enough to give we, the listeners, a chance to gather ourselves a few times during the album. The classical sections come and go tastefully a handful of times throughout the album and offer a pleasant breather between the metallic madness that otherwise saturates the record. Be it the maniacal piano intro to the album's highlight, "Embodied Deception" or the purely grand piano outro of the title track, not one second of Oracles is wasted, even during these breathers. "In Honour of Reason" even manages to mix some female vocals alongside the totally masculine bellows of the lead vocalist. The juxtaposition of beauty and bowel evacuating horror is constantly explored, and can make one ponder about the dual nature of human existence. Is there truly beauty in ugly? Is there really a selfless good deed? One could ask if this is actually one of the most sophisticated, complex, and intelligent metal recordings of all time. One could ask this if they weren't too busy punching the snooty types who ask these questions in the face thanks to the sheer power of this album.
Fans of Hour of Penance and the like will eat this up, and with damn good reason. There is some member sharing between Fleshgod Apocalypse and the aforementioned group, and it's evident in the sense that both bands manage to stand out in the flooding scene of technical death metal. I'll end this review with a true story that should hopefully help you, the reader, understand the all consuming fury contained within. A while ago, I was listening to this album whilst dicking around on the internet. Three minutes into "As Tyrants Fall", my girlfriend walked into the room. Her eyes lit up at the pleasant ensemble emanating from my speakers, so she pulled me out of my chair and begged me to dance with her. Reluctantly, I obliged. We waltzed in the computer room for just under a minute before the track changed and the waltz abruptly shifted into furious blasting death metal madness. Instinctively, I headbutt my dear girlfriend in the face hard enough to break her nose and give me a nasty headache. Consumed by the music, I then dropkicked her dog and punched a hole through a nearby wall. I was only recently released from prison.
Translation: "This slays, buy the hell out of it"