Another strong year is in the books for heavy music, so strong that making a year end list seemed unfair to every release that we did not include in our lists. The underground continues to thrive with releases from legendary bands such as DARK FUNERAL, VADER, and NEUROSIS that will stand the test of time. Actually, most of the long running bands did not fail to meet or exceed expectations. Thrash metal pioneers, MEGADETH, VOIVOD, and TESTAMENT, certainly released excellent records. What is more important is that 2016 saw a lot of great releases from less trendy, more obscure bands.
This past year is personally notable as lost a dear friend and contributor, Brandon Stratton AKA rocknro11chef13. As a small tribute, we’ve included albums that he would’ve likely picked for his year end list. Life is short, my friends. Embrace it.
With so many “brutal” and “fast” bands sprouting lately, Italy’s FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE has cemented their brand of symphonic death metal into the underground realm. The band has generated lots of buzz, and received plenty of acclaim recently due to their hard work and endless touring on the road.
Symphonic elements are a huge part of this album. When placed tactfully, keyboards can certainly enhance the music to epic proportions, such as with EMPEROR’s In the Nightside Eclipse. When the symphonic parts don’t let up at all and allow the music to breathe, it distracts the listener from the actual music, much like METALLICA’s S&M performance.
Unfortunately, Agony falls prey to the latter notion, as there are times on the album where the symphony parts do not enhance the guitar riffs, but instead, the constant blasting, typical vocals, and fast riffs are too much to the point of becoming a wall of noise. Much like HATE ETERNAL, Agony has a constant barrage of blasts and double bass with not many riffs that stick, as noted in “The Hypocrisy,” “The Imposition,” and “The Deceit” – it gets to the point where the songs seem as if they mesh together into one long song.
Midway through the album is where the songs take some shape, as “The Violation” produces some excellent results with catchier riffs and straightforward execution. While “The Egoism” and “The Oppression” contain better structures and ear catching solos, the album wears down the listener, and feels extremely long due to the never ending blast beats and bland vocals.
Agony is slicker and more polished than its predecessor, Oracles, but the main drawback is that the music sounds familiar and the band concentrates more on style than substance. Aside from that, FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE is a band with excellent musicians, and their symphonic/grind style may be something new for people who are bored with the traditional grind/death metal bands or want a more brutal approach than the more popular symphonic bands like DIMMU BORGIR or CRADLE OF FILTH. FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE is not for everyone, but as their past tour itineraries suggest, fans who like the styles of DECAPITATED, VITAL REMAINS, THE FACELESS, and DYING FETUS should enjoy this release. (Nuclear Blast Records)
Fresh off the July 12th release of their excellent new album, Carnival is Forever (read our review here), Poland’s DECAPITATED are headed to North America for a headlining tour alongside DECREPIT BIRTH, FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, RINGS OF SATURN, and THE HAARP MACHINE.
2011 Carnival is Forever North America Tour:
09/30/11 Montage Music Hall – Rochester, NY
10/01/11 Kingdom – Richmond, VA
10/02/11 The Acheron – Atlanta, GA
10/03/11 State Theater – St. Petersburg, FL
10/05/11 White Rabbit San Antonio, TX
10/07/11 Clubhouse – Tempe, AZ
10/08/11 SOMA – San Diego, CA
10/09/11 Foro Alicia – Mexico City, MÉXICO
10/10/11 The Whisky – Hollywood, CA
10/11/11 DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA
10/12/11 Branx – Portland, OR
10/14/11 Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
10/15/11 Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, B.C. – CANADA
10/16/11 Republik – Calgary, AB – CANADA
10/17/11 The Exchange – Regina, SK – CANADA
10/18/11 Park Theater – Winnipeg, MB – CANADA
10/20/11 Miramar Theatre – Milwaukee, WI
10/21/11 Mojoe’s – Joliet, IL
10/22/11 Alrosa Villa – Columbus, OH
10/23/11 Peabody’s – Cleveland, OH
10/24/11 Opera House – Toronto, ON – CANADA
10/26/11 Club Soda – Montreal, QC – CANADA
10/27/11 Gramercy Theater – New York, NY
10/28/11 The Reverb – Reading, PA
10/29/11 Saints & Sinners Fest – Asbury Park, NJ
10/30/11 Jaxx – Springfield, VA