Album Review: Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Italian quintet Fleshgod Apocalypse are masters of symphonic technical death metal. Their newest release, King, is pinnacle of elegance, with music as sophisticated and powerful as its title. Crunchy blast beats in the guitar and drums open up into sweeping orchestral arrangements. The heavily distorted electric guitar, with its melodic leads and shredding solos, merges seamlessly with the symphonic instruments. Similarly, the twinkling pianos are exquisitely integrated, while the chorus creates a soundscape of epic grandeur. This music exemplifies the tyrannical mightiness of Wagner, the melodic virtuosity of Paganini, and the theatricality of Holst, while also staying true to the brutality of death metal. The album maintains a steady momentum, with consistent quality and charisma.
Lead vocalist Tommaso Riccardi sounds like a mythical beast with his chimerical roars. His gutteral vocals are loud but low-pitched, resulting in a fucking hostile atmosphere. Bassist Paolo Rossi, a natural tenor, provides the clean vocals, even hitting some impossibly high notes in falsetto. The percussion is solid, comprised primarily of fills, but occasionally the drums steal the spotlight with their sheer brute strength. Some tracks incorporate spoken verse, which is discordant with both the classical and the metal elements. This awkwardness cheapens the impact of otherwise strong compositions.
In a consistently powerful album, some tracks stand out for better or for worse. And The Vulture Beholds is a headbanger of epic proportions, with the electric guitar at its zenith. The Fool seems very inconsistent and anachronistic. The song title evokes the Renaissance, but this clashes against both the baroque-sounding harpsichord, and the modern slang and obscenities in the lyrics. This was the weakest song on the album, and I am baffled by the decision to use it as a promotional single. Following in the proud tradition of Opera, Cold As Perfection is a melodramatic break up song. “Paramour (Die Leidenschaft bringt Leiden) is a marvelous display of Veronica Bordacchini beautiful Soprano voice. Her classical discipline is evident in her rich, sonorous tone.
This is a refined example of classical music juxtaposed with modern death metal. Audiophiles will find King a very rewarding album, since the music has a timeless complexity and depth. Fleshgod Apocalypse make everything big, loud, and fast, almost to excess. The sensory stimulation may be overwhelming at first, but it’s worth indulging on this decadent musical experience. From the intricate album art, to the poetic lyrics, King is full of delicate flourishes fit for royalty. Four stars out of five.