Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony

I don't know what possesses some bands to sign contracts with the big name label-brutes. I guess it's the promise of "fame," fans, or money. I mean obviously any band would want to get their music out to as many people as possible with all the benefits of scheduling big shows and getting professionally done merch, perhaps making some cash in the process. However what I don't get is when the label asks them to change literally everything about their sound or image just to appeal to more people. It makes sense for the label which operates as a money-hungry corporation, but for the band to see this and still sign the contract? There's got to be some pretty deceptive people in the upper echelons of these big labels to make a band willfully sign away their integrity like that.

Fleshgod Apocalypse did it, whether it was of their own volition I have no idea. It's irrelevant. Their hit debut Oracles released with people raving over how well it combined brutality and technicality while having its own neoclassical flare. I liked it enough that it inspired me to see them live where I picked up physical copies of both Oracles and the decent Mafia EP as well as some merch. If the mediocre track "Thru Our Scars" was anything to go by, I should've expected the worst. Come 2011 Fleshgod Apocalypse have signed on with major metal label Nuclear Blast, much to the dismay of everyone who gave a shit. Then they revealed the artwork for Agony along with a preview of "The Violation."

My eyes turned red and steam started fuming from my ears and nostrils.

I refused to even listen to this piece of shit until long after release because it angered me just to look at the cover. Their logo cheapened to a "classy" font, after listening to it I feel like the dull gray artwork fits this album perfectly. I applauded Oracles for being one of the few neoclassical technical death metal albums that remained brutal despite having an extremely dry production. On here there is none of that brutality with fluid guitar melodies replaced with sterile, annoying high-register symphonics. I don't even know what they were thinking with some of these tracks. "The Forsaking" is absolute garbage. It sounds like Nightwish attempting death metal, and these guys don't even have the benefit of a full orchestra to back them up. Then you have all the sporadic clean choruses (or crescendos I should say) on tracks like "The Deceit" and "The Oppression." They aren't evocative. They're flat-out irritating. At least the latter of those two has a riff close to the end. Isn't it sad when the only compliment I can give a death metal song is "it has a riff?" I guess this is hardly even death metal anymore but you get my point.

The production on Agony isn't good either. It's extremely clean to the point of sterility. The guitars are a humming harmonic buzz in the background except for during the completely inane soloing, while electric symphonics dominate the mix overpowering both the nonstop blastbeats and operatic vocals. The album ends with a piano outro just like Oracles and Mafia did, and that's probably the best part about it. "The Egoism" and "The Betrayal" aren't too unbearable either. Maybe because the symphonies are properly harmonized with the guitars on those tracks. Who knows.

2.5 out of 10


1. Temptation

2. The Hypocrisy

3. The Imposition

4. The Deceit

5. The Violation

6. The Egoism

7. The Betrayal

8. The Forsaking

9. The Oppression

10.  Agony

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