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Arise as Night Falls - 73%

hardalbumreview, May 31st, 2019

After the release of King in 2016, which could be considered as a springboard for the band to shoot them through the skies of international success, the Italian Symphonic Death Fleshgod Apocalypse parted ways with two of their members: Tommaso Riccardi on vocals and guitar and Cristiano Trionfera on guitar. This departure, contrary to what one might expect to happen in such cases, did not affect the band considerably, and in fact, it brought Francesco Paoli, the mastermind and the dark heart and soul of the band behind the mic again, after about a decade. They went on to drink the devil’s Venom and come out with a new album.

The fifth LP on their short-lived yet thriving discography is Veleno (or venom in their native tongue), an eleven-piece collection of asphyxiating death metal and elegant symphony. As far as their composition of music and quality of production are considered, Veleno is a step forward, indicating the right path the band have set for themselves. But an album cannot be constrained and reduced to only the sound of its music, there surely are some other factors such as strength of singing and artfulness, purposefulness and eloquence of lyrics at work too. So a music album is never “exceptional” without observing standards of lyricsm as well as instrumentation and sound production. This album lacks the said qualities.

There can be found some truly soul-crushing guitar and drum work on this album, something to stimulate the Restless Neck Syndrome in metalheads (if you know what I mean), such as Fury or Worship and Forget which leave the listeners breathless when the final note is hit. On other occasions, we have grand displays of symphonic expression, songs like Embrace the Oblivion showcase the band’s acumen in terms of working with instruments and orchestra. And the duet of drum and bass on Monnalisa creates a memorable moment on the album, as well as its piano lines which fit the theme.

But what might be the greatest loss on this album is the vocals. The guttural singing style of Paoli is not uncommon within the genre. However, it does not deliver what is expected of this act; it can’t hold a candle to the grandeur of music and orchestration. And that is not the worst part! When you consider the clean singing and even screams (Holy hell! What on earth is the miserable screaming on Absinthe! Or the one on Carnivorous Lamb!), you wish they had stuck to gutturals. At times, which are not so infrequent, it becomes an utter dross. On Sugar, as one example, they strife to sound like Lemmy Kilmister, and boy they fail so miserably! Even inclusion of a female operatic voice hasn’t redeemed the album; it sure enhances the experience, still accompanying the male voice, it falls out of harmony – the collaboration and synchrony between them is faulty (the worst case is The Day We'll Be Gone, a song which could have been a highlight). And when choirs are added to diversify the jumble of vocals, they go hand in hand with the orchestral texture and bulge in combination with the lead and backing vocals.

Still more defective than vocals are the lyrics. Random infusion of curse words where they obviously do not belong, pretentious and incongruous use of pompous words, lines out of rhythm which were force-sung to fit in the music and whatnot. Their take on such subject matters as addiction (Sugar) or science (Fury) is something worth mentioning; however, it is the execution of such ideas that lag behind.

And what on earth were those two bonus tracks?! The band’s cover of Rammstein’s Reise, Reise couldn’t be any more off-point. The Forsaking (Nocturnal Version), supposedly a dark opera, is a tad bit better than its predecessor, even so, only an instrumental version would be preferable.

On the whole, this album hints at brilliance but fails to deliver it. It is truly a Symphonic Technical Death exemplar if and only if we take the music into account and turn a deaf ear to the words and singing of the album. This is particularly the reason Fleshgod are in arrears in comparison with the likes of Septicflesh.

Highlights: Worship and Forget - Embrace the Oblivion

Rating:
Lyrics: 6.0
Artwork: 8.0
Musicianship: 9.0
Vocals: 6.5
Overall: 7.3