"FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE play death metal with a 'classical" approach;' inspired by CANNIBAL CORPSE and SUFFOCATION, and influenced by J.S. Bach and L. Van Beethoven," reads the Willowtip press release regarding "Oracles"; the Rome, Italy band's debut for the label. Sound far-fetched? It's really not, although "Oracles" is not some over-the-top symphonic death metal experiment either. Rather, it is a modern, technically proficient death metal bruiser that utilizes the occasional classic interlude, as well as some neoclassical lead work.
That FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE include in its ranks current members of Unique Leader countrymen HOUR OF PENANCE should give you some indication of the death metal pedigree of the players. Not as technically mind blowing as an ORIGIN or a DECREPIT BIRTH, but technically accomplished nonetheless and every bit as bludgeoning, the Italians look first to do harm, then bring one around to the more melodic and compositionally nuanced aspects of the music on "Oracles". And believe me, "Oracles" is brutal with a capital "B". The drumming is enough to make a jackhammer seem pleasing to the senses and the guitars produce a firestorm of riffs. Every track is a knockout too.
Once those shooting pains subside though, one really begins to notice the compositional acumen of the group. Just above the hammer 'n sickle crush of the riffs and rhythm section are lead guitar parts that are just melodic enough to spice up the arrangements, yet not so tuneful as to soften the edges. "Retrieving my Carcass" is one such example, as is the tempo-shifting "Requiem of SJ Minore" (morose slow-to-mid tempo crunch gives way to pummeling speed, and back again). The same goes for a little chunk-groove with a vocal line of "Kills, god everybody kills everybody, decimate them all" on "Infection of the White Throne" that is a real attention-grabber.
Then there are the classical interludes, which are included not as separate tracks, but instead as stand-alone — yet not disconnected — pieces on a handful of songs. Rather than sound out of place, the juxtaposition is quite engrossing, particularly when a sense of calm overtakes you just long enough to make the system-shock that much more devastating when the hammers comes crashing down again.
In the end, what one is left with is another stupendous tech-death release from Willowtip. In fact, it is one of the better ones released by the label in the last couple of years. Highly recommend.