Fleshgod Apocalypse's shtick is combining death metal and classical music. Classical music in metal goes all the way back to Richie Blackmore. However, metal bands usually lack formal training. They often merely tread harmonic minor water, while throwing in some diminished arpeggios. So many bands play classical-sounding licks without "getting" classical's complexity and colors.

In Honour of Reason
As Tyrants Fall

These Italians aren't the answer to the problem, but they're one step closer. On their debut, Oracles (Willowtip, 2009), they construct bona fide classical chord progressions. They dial in big, serrated tones, while keeping wankery in check. They also insert tasty string and piano interludes. I can't tell if the orchestral parts are samples, but the liner notes credit someone with "orchestral arrangements." If they're indeed composed from scratch, they sound 100% authentic.

They're also nice breathers. In relentlessness and percussiveness, Fleshgod Apocalypse suggest Krisiun gone neoclassical. Surprisingly, the sound has legs. The band doesn't skimp on death metal in indulging its classical fetish. Headbanging comes first. Perhaps Wagner inspired bangovers in his day.

- Cosmo Lee

Amazon (MP3)
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Fleshgod Apocalypse (CD)