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For me, death metal is and likely always has been something that I'll either really like, or not care for. Much of it finds its technical brilliance marred by poor recording values, or a lack of tact when it comes to songwriting. Enter Fleshgod Apocalypse, a band that has stirred the death metal circle with only a single studio album and EP on the market, disregarding demos. I first came across this band with their 2010 EP 'Mafia', and was pleasantly blown away by the technical ferocity and heaviness of the band. On top of that, I immediately recongized their connection to erudite classical music, which only set them further apart from the legions of typical death metal acts. Seeking out the full length, I have not been disappointed. 'Oracles' is a vicious forty minutes of death metal that seeks to impress. Apparently, it succeeds to a fair extent.
My first impression of the record is that of extreme heaviness, surprisingly clean production, and the evidence of classical sections which really seek to add a level of regal class to what Fleshgod Apocalypse does. While there is not the same melodic proficiency as I first heard on 'Mafia', the classical parts really impress me; the arrangements do not quite sound as if they are performed by a live orchestra, but they are close enough to do the compositions justice. In the death metal elements themselves, there are also plenty of neoclassical riffs, played at rapid pace, to the point where they can get exhausting by the end.
The most powerful aspect of Fleshgod Apocalypse is tied between the rhythm guitar and the furious drumwork, courtesy here of Mauro Mercurio. The band has just a powerful ability to make the heavy sound beautiful as well, but unfortunately 'Oracles' still does not stand as a masterpiece in my eyes. This is greatly due to the songwriting itself, which is strong enough for death metal, but many of the songs feature little to no distinguishing traits, apart from the classical nuance here and there. In fact, the greatest impression left by any single track is the title song, which is ironically a classical piano piece.
Fleshgod Apocalypse would later go on to polish up their act even further, but there's no surprise to me when I hear metalheads speaking so highly of the album. With a little greater focus within each song, the band's next full length could be a real landmark for death metal.