REVIEW: Fleshgod Apocalypse – Mafia

Band: Fleshgod Apocalypse
Album: Mafia
Release: 2010
Label: Willowtip/Candlelight
Genre: Brutal death metal

Classical and death metal are not usual bosom-buddies, but one band rapidly growing in popularity have their hearts set on melding the two together. Introducing Roman brutal death act Fleshgod Apocalypse and their 24-minute pummelling Mafia. Anyone familiar with fellow countrymen Hour Of Penance should stop reading and go buy this release. To those who don’t, read on.

Opener “Thru Our Scars” throws down the gauntlet to challengers with a strong opening blast, but manages to mix in a violin breakdown and neoclassical shred solos whilst still bludgeoning forwards at a ridiculous pace. Throughout the EP, the guitars go from crushing and chugging riffs to harmonized solos, along with insanely fast-paced drums, all within in the same song. This does lead to the songs being longer than average, although most sections are quite memorable. The At The Gates cover is given the Fleshgod treatment, but becomes forgettable after a few listens. The transitions between songs are impressive, especially between “Abyssal” and “Conspiracy Of Silence”. The title track, in similar fashion to their début, is an orchestral track from guest pianist Ferrini, and truly showcases the classical influence on the band.

The vocals on the album are mostly low intelligible gutturals, delivering a commendable lyrical blow to the corruption and violence of the Sicilian Mafia. However, compared to the poetic and eloquent lyrics of début Oracles, these are a step down in quality: “We’re the starving victim of the world you made for you/Your thirst of power’s sucking all away!” are what greet the listener. Another slightly odder addition to the Fleshgod arsenal are Rossi’s operatic cleans, which required some getting used to before I fully enjoyed them. Finally, there is an extended soundbite from Mafia member Salvatore Riina, differing from the usual creepy film extracts used by others.

The main letdown on this release is the production. The drums completely dominate the music, leaving the guitar and bass muddied in the mix, although this is rectified in concert. Also, the cover could have been left off the album or replaced with some original material as it’s the weakest track by far.

Behemoth and Hour Of Penance fans will gain a lot from this release, once they see past the clean vocals, as well as anybody wishing to try the more eccentric side of death metal. Avant-garde this is not, but it may be enough to stand out from the crowd. Once the production issues clear up, we can look forward to a promising sophomore release.

Rating: 7.5/10

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