Friday, August 6, 2010

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Mafia EP (2010)

Similar to their fellow Italian death metal act Hour of Penance, who have even shared some of the same lineup, Fleshgod Apocalypse, have made a huge splash upon the worldwide underground death market for their combination of highly presentable studio presentation, technical wherewithal and punishing, dynamic composition. Much like the behemoth squid on the cover of this EP writhes its tentacles through an angry sea, Mafia seeks to quickly follow last year's debut Oracles as a statement of solidarity, a proof positive that lightning can strike twice and that Fleshgod plans on an ensuing series of electrical storms that penetrate the dense, earthy crust of the death metal fan's robust skull.

The use of 'behemoth' in that opening paragraph was not an accident, because the opening moments of "Thru Our Scars" immediately bring to mind the better known Polish band, who also have staked their fame on a similar, modern excess of fast paced death metal embellishment with no lack of atmospheric content. You'll also be reminded of Hate Eternal, and by logical extension Morbid Angel, but Fleshgod goes all out with blasting fury to try and push beyond this point. I personally liked the little flourishes here as with the brief inclusion of female vocals and the spicy classical lead break in the bridge, but otherwise its just a wall of force that impedes upon the gravity of the listener without truly conspiring to create memorable riffing. This holds true to my feelings for their debut Oracles: monumental production, great musicians and enough aggression to blow a barn door off, like a tornado, but beyond a half hour of ass handing they don't really write much for the long term reflection.

But then, the end of this track swells with subverted melodies that lead into the rolling, double bass barricade of "Abyssal", which is slightly superior in the riffing, a flurry of chaos like the breaking of the waters on the EP's cover, something sinister just beneath with its gaze focused upon you and the separation of your limbs. It's not perfect, but there's a good lead here and its overall more exciting, despite the slower pace. "Conspiracy of Silence" is back to the blasting, an Italian advancement upon the tried extremity of Hate Eternal or the more excessive Polish bands like Vader and Hate. The drums are disgusting, the dark, melodic weaving of the guitars welcome, but otherwise the brickhouse blasted riffs are quite forgettable. "Mafia" is a piano piece sans vocals, which is actually a nice closure to the album thought it bears no real connection to the original death metal works. Also present is a cover of At the Gates' "Blinded by Fear", from their seminal Slaughter of the Soul. The Italians hack away at it, making it faster and perhaps more repulsive, but without the patented Lindberg snarling, its just not the same.

In all, Mafia presents about 17 minutes of new, modern, brutal death metal which should have the feathers of the bands inherent fanbase in a ruffle, though to my ears, there is not all that much impressive about it. The drumming is a whirlwind, the guitars occasionally offering a nice taste of something catchy, but despite its high level of polish, there were very few moments at which my neck started to break, and when you've got a death metal record, you've either got to provide the eerie old school atmosphere or a truly mesmerizing vortex of guitar lines. I'm afraid this doesn't possess either before a few errant, classically-influenced phrases, and since there is so little meat on the bones to begin with, its not required listening.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

1 comment:

Narian said...

Your neck did nothing during "Abyssal"? :P

Thought the exact opposite of you, this is easily in my top 5 this year with Hour of Penance and Hideous Deformity (another review I did not 100% agree with you on).