Agony's unique blend of brutal technical death metal and symphonic classical music immediately took the metal world by storm with its relentlessly technical compositions and precise orchestrations, and it's also helped give Fleshgod Apocalypse enough attention to be considered one of the most important young extreme metal acts on the scene. The Italian band made some waves with their previous two releases, but Agony is the album that will probably appeal most to the more forward-thinking metal community - after all, what's there not to like about technical death metal matched together with classical orchestrations? Unlike many other reviewers, I haven't been entirely blown away by Agony for a few reasons, but there's no denying the ambition and creativity found on this effort.
The music on Agony can best be described as a cross between the previous Fleshgod Apocalypse album, Septic Flesh, Dimmu Borgir, and Suffocation - that means you should basically expect the same style of brutal technical death metal that was on Oracles, as well as symphonic orchestrations and a more bombastic atmosphere. Mixing technical death metal with orchestral music has rarely (if ever) been done before, so I have a great appreciation for the ambition that Fleshgod Apocalypse shows on Agony. They really are a group of visionaries, and with a bit more improvement in some key areas, their next effort in this style could really be something special. While certainly good, Agony does leave quite a bit of promise and potential unfulfilled.
My biggest issue with Agony is that, even though the arrangements are more complex and intricate than ever, the songwriting feels a bit one-dimensional and monotonous. The frequent (and extremely well played, I might add) blast beats become numbing after a while, and the triggered sound of the drums certainly doesn't help in this area. As a matter of fact, I don't take a liking to most of the traits of the over-compressed and sterile nature of the production - it's professional for sure, but I would've enjoyed Agony much more if it had a more natural sound. The musicianship is among the best you'll ever hear, but it's so poorly mixed that everything feels drowned out by the triggered drums and orchestrations.
Agony has a lot of really cool traits, but the compositions just simply aren't memorable enough for me to label this as the 'essential masterpiece' that many others make it out to be - and, as mentioned earlier, the production also seems to bother me quite a bit. With all of that said, there are some great tracks on Agony ("The Egoism" comes to mind), the musicianship is absolutely stunning, and the ambition of this effort is admirable in every sense of the word. People who enjoy very brutal and technical death metal but are also open to hearing some classical orchestrations will definitely want to give this a listen. 3.5 stars are pretty appropriate here.
2. The Hypocrisy
3. The Imposition
4. The Deceit
5. The Violation
6. The Egoism
7. The Betrayal
8. The Forsaking
9. The Oppresion