Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth
Release Date: August 19, 2013
When the United States dropped “The Bomb” on Japan, everyone just saw the destruction it caused, no one cared to think what an intricate piece of technology it really is. The amount of work it takes to create an atomic bomb is immense and it is often cited as the pinnacle of human invention. Let’s go step by step shall we? First you have the nuclear core, the fundamental unit of any A-bomb or H-bomb. Next you have the explosive charge and body which surrounds the core. Finally you have the propellant which helps delivery your missile/bomb to its target. Now let’s look at the music of Fleshgod Apocalypse; you have the core which is pure technical death metal, next you have the charge and body consisting of the guitars and orchestration and finally you have the propellant consisting of Francesco Paoli’s commanding double bass powering the whole setup right into your room. The result is a an album that will rip your face off; welcome to the Labyrinth.
Metal music from Italy is just amazing, some of my favorite bands come from Italy. You have the band who gives JRR Tolkien a run for his money in Rhapsody of Fire, then there’s techno meets black metal in Aborym and then there is Fleshgod Apocalypse. These guys have been building their reputation in the technical death metal scene ever since their first album Oracles and the follow-up E.P. Mafia, mainly due to the utter brutality of the music. Although the earlier work contained minimal orchestration, with Agony they took to a new direction bringing in their session pianist as a full-time member. The experiment was promising though a little rough around the edges. With Labyrinth they seem to have perfected their sound of extreme orchestral death metal (mind you this is not a new genre I created; it is merely a way of describing the music).
When I put on the album and the first track started playing I started thinking, “Hmm, pretty good, sounds like the old album but a little better produced…” and then the opera singer came on; mind you this was in the middle of a crazy blast beat section with all instruments at full force. This was my first indication that this is no ordinary Fleshgod album. Heck, ordinary got up and jumped out the window when that lady started singing!
The scale of the album itself is massive, no longer is the piano and orchestration an addition, it has become an integral part of the music. But with great scale come great sacrifices, in order to accommodate some of the more ambitious orchestral arrangements, the complexity of some of the riffs had to be reduced. The death metal fans though should not be disappointed at this though because there is still more than enough that this album has to offer to satisfy their needs. The technicality of the songs also remains unchanged, with ample odd-time signature thrown into most songs.
Production on the album is top-notch. It doesn’t sound over produced at all. All the instruments are balanced to perfection. Paolo Rossi on bass and vocals has done a good job; his backing high-pitched vocals are something unique to this band which I enjoy. Francesco Paoli as usual is amazing on drums; never leaving the listener bored with his infinite supply of mind-blowing patterns and that double bass and blast beat is to die for! Cristiano Trionfera on guitars has a good rapport with Francesco Ferrini on piano with the riffs accompanying the piano melodies. Tommaso Riccardi on vocals and guitars is also amazing, providing his brutal, guttural vocals to the already amazing music. A shout out to Veronica Bordacchini who once again handled the female vocals and is mesmerizing with her amazing voice which seems to float over all the brutality below.
A special mention must go to Cristiano Trionfera and Francesco Ferrini for their incredible work on the orchestral arrangements. They always seem to go hand in hand with the other instruments add a sense of grandeur to the overall music. The full orchestra along with choirs really is a treat to listen to.
This album has gone straight to number one on my top ten albums of the year list. Fleshgod Apocalypse have really pushed their boundaries with this album. They seem to have perfected their sound and have achieved their vision. On the way they may have alienated a few fans but they have gifted the metal community one of the finest albums of this year. I’m going to get back to listening to the last song on the album, a solo piano piece which lets you take a breather before you press the replay button and have the air blasted out of your lungs.