When a friend of mine suggested I give ‘King’ a listen in 2016, as I’d never heard of the Roman trio Fleshgod Apocalypse at the time, I was rather quick to complement him and thank him profusely for the introduction. With the release of ‘Veleno’, their fifth studio album, they certainly knew where they had set the bar and how to go about clearing it effortlessly.

It takes all of 3 seconds for the flurry of guitars and drums to be accompanied by the tinkling piano keys on “Fury” and not that much longer before the death vocals come in, but it’s when the choral vocals are added to the mix that all the elements come together to show the rage in the song.

What’s amazing is how full a sound they get on “Carnivorous Lamb”, Francesco Paoli’s growls are joined by Paolo Rossi’s clean howls as Paoli’s drum patterns invite Fabio Bartoletti’s leads to take off unabashed as piano keys are bashed in the background by Francesco Ferrini.

If you haven’t watched the video for “Sugar” yet, you really ought to do so. The piano chords add to a feeling of chaotic harmony to the syncopated drums as the heavy guitar rhythms are strummed out only for the lead to kick in and sound way to pretty for the unpinned aggression in the song.

Simple time keeping and a building piano over the choir have “The Praying Mantis’ Strategy” work its magic as an intro to “Monnalisa”, where Rossi’s bass thumps out a melody the guitars soon follow, as do the death vocals and Veronica Bordacchini’s soprano, before the lead takes on a tangent letting Bordacchini’s voice elevate the song to another level.

“Worship and Forget” is a rapidly belted out death track which is as subtle as sledgehammer cracking nuts, however they still manage to throw in piano during the song to add a little discord.

Rossi’s wailing vocals make the choral and death vocals sound exquisitely melodic and harmonious on “Absinthe”, while his bass slapping and popping gives it a jazzy edge over the straightforward unrelenting double-kick battery.

Other than just loving the title, “Pissing on the Score” opens with a piano crescendo over the heady guitar rhythms as the two riffs roll over each other and the death growls add all the bottom end one could want, before the piano and lead raise the pitch and tempo, changing the melody of the rhythm riffs to suit.

The slow and serene “The Day We’ll Be Gone” has the soaring soprano over the piano, before the guitars and death vocals gently work their way into the song escalating the volume and pitch Bordacchini uses to perfection.

“Embrace the Oblivion” is the longest song on the album and features all the orchestrations you could want, from choral arrangements and manic leads that bleed into the riffs as the melodic clean vocals ride about the death whispers in Italian, all the while the pounding kick drums lacerate before culminating in a violin and piano outro that becomes the poisonous title track “Veleno” and it’s sombre but beautiful unaccompanied pianoforte. A subtle yet fitting way to fade out.

If you’re looking for fast aggressive death metal with a touch of melody and mesmerising melody, then this is something you’ll no doubt be picking up.

(8/10 Marco Gaminara)