Veleno (Nuclear Blast) is Fleshgod Apocalypse’s fifth album and follows on from the critical success that was King. Since King then they’ve had some lineup changes with Tomasso Riccardi and Cristiano Trionfera leaving the band and their legendary drummer/ songwriter/mastermind Francesco Pauli returning to vocal and guitar duties as per the Oracle lineup.
Fleshgod with their blend of Classical and Technical Death Metal has always had a penchant for throwing everything including the kitchen sink at an album, and producing glorious organised chaos as a result: probably most evident being the adrenaline rush that was Agony.
Within the first few moments of opening track ‘Fury’ any questions about how the lineup changes may have affected them are answered with aplomb, as Fleshgod hit the ground running with a furious statement of intent. The organised chaos of previous albums is still very much a feature, however, it is in more ways than one much more composed.
The ferocity continuing with the first two singles, we have the more melodious highlight ‘Carnivorous Lamb’, with some nice piano lines and backing vocals juxtaposing nicely, before the bludgeoning ‘Sugar’ flexes its musical muscles with abrasive riffing, and gives the listener a bit of a pounding.
When the first Interlude ‘The Praying Mantis Strategy’ bleeds into ‘Monnalisa’ it’s a dramatic turn of pace for the album, fluttering piano, big theatrical chorus, excellent melody they’re really pushing their creative boundaries with something that at times almost feels like they’re channelling Ghost, it’s quite probably my favourite track of the album, followed by the ironically forgetful, ‘Worship and Forget’, not a bad track, but that’s a hell of a track to try and follow.
‘Absinthe’ is also a nice change of pace as goes through a few different phases and has the characteristics of being a good soundtrack to something, I’d certainly love to see the video it could be for. it’s the first to prominently feature the clean, but slightly crazy, vocals of Paolo Rossi which are less noticeable on Veleno that previous albums. Following this is the wonderful ‘Pissing On The Score’ which definitely pushes the more symphonic/operatic style into the Death Metal mix with the results another great and bombastic highlight track.
‘The Day We’ll Be Gone’ is a masterpiece, a sombre ballad which given its contrast to everything so far really makes it stand out and shine from the rest of the album, with a quite wonderful vocal turn from Veronica Bordacchini’s soprano vocals making the heart soar, pure magic.
The brief yet sublime instrumental piano coda from Francesco Ferrini brings the album to a close is preceded, by ‘Embrace The Oblivion’ which is very much a traditional Fleshgod style track but as is typical of the album as a whole much more refined, a controlled power used to great effect.
This is a great album, no doubt about it, the core members have not let lineup changes impact upon them and if anything has given them more focus in their compositions, and with few low points does show the bands continual progression. This may well be my favourite Fleshgod Apocalypse album to date, and definitely sets a benchmark for their future efforts. Outstanding stuff and a contender for my top 10 of 2019.
9 / 10