Fleshgod Apocalypse Veleno

Fleshgod Apocalypse Veleno
Fleshgod Apocalypse are a band with a penchant for blast beats and Beethoven. Hailing from Perugia, Italy, the band first turned heads with their orchestra-embellished debut, Oracles, with subsequent albums adding more orchestration to their symphonic death metal sound. With founding member Francesco Paoli at the helm and an ensemble at their back, the courtly gentlemen in corpse paint give us Veleno, their first album following the departure of longtime guitarists/vocalists Cristiano Trionfera and Tommaso Riccardi in 2017.
Veleno has all the symphonic flourishes fans of Fleshgod Apocalypse have come to expect. Twinkling piano, choirs and string ensembles are all at the ready to offer breadth to death metal riffage. However, the execution of these symphonic elements feels uninspired. A quick shred on the ivories or a choral crescendo often occur at predictable moments, causing songs to grow tedious, regardless of how bombastic they are. Tracks like "Sugar" and "Embrace the Oblivion" have engaging orchestral harmonization, but for the most part, the symphonic portions of this album fall flat.
The heavier side of Fleshgod Apocalypse feels unrealized on this album as well. Like the orchestral arrangements, songs on this record often rely on generic death metal tropes. Stop-on-a-dime chugging riffs are a favourite for verses on this album, and out-of-place pinch harmonics abound. It's nothing that will melt your face for a band that's at least half technical death metal.
Again, the orchestral arrangements mostly hamper Veleno because, rather than coming together, the symphonic and death metal elements are constantly stepping on each other. Instead of giving a riff room to breathe, a row of violins or a chorus of voices will enter to smother it.
The best songs on this album are "Pissing on the Score" and "Embrace the Oblivion" because they actually sound like death metal. For the most part, this album is like listening to Amon Amarth in one ear and Wagner in the other. It lacks finesse. The arrangements on this album don't capture the fun, unpredictability of Oracles or the intricacy of Agony, it's just going through the motions. Everyone involved in this record is a fantastic musician, and there are some moments of enjoyment, but overall Veleno won't rock either your socks or your pantaloons off. (Nuclear Blast)