RoundTable Review: Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Posted by Reggie
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 5 Feb 2016
Length: 1 Hour, 48 Minutes
Genre: Symphonic Black/Death Metal
Studio Albums: Oracles (2009); Agony (2011); Labyrinth (2013).
Reggie – Agony was a kick to the groin. The 2011 album was my first sample of the Fleshgod clan and it was quite intense and erratic, but beautiful. They managed to put all these complex, aggressive rhythms together along with a symphonic presence and made it sound focused. I never did get a chance to follow them up with their Labyrinth release, but from what I hear it fell short of expectations. I’ll get to it someday.
King, however, is an even harder kick to the groin than Agony was. I love the intensity, but what I think is particularly great this time around is the varied tempos among the songs. King isn’t just blast beats and blazing speed. There is a lot going on here; enough so that one listen won’t do the album justice to your ears. Some of the songs are actually quite slow and doomy and with an opera vocal style, it adds an eerie ominous presence. Production-wise, it’s a great sounding album even turned up to 11. 4.25
RiffRaff – Fleshgod Apocalypse took me by quite the surprise back in 2011 with Agony. Balls to the wall symphonic death metal with more brutal intensity than a blood orgy with Emperor Nero and Caligula jacked up on amphetamines. And not only was it just a vitriol fueled decapitation machine, it had great songwriting and passion in it. Hence why I was rather let down by its follow-up Labyrinth which was like bashing my head into a solid wall of noise. Weaker songwriting and atrocious production just couldn’t keep the symphonic death metal gimmick rolling. I had thought that these Roman warriors had fallen, so my expectations for King stood rather diminished.
Che cazzo!! Perdonami egregio re perché ero sbagliato! King is a beast and a half and makes me totally forget about that Minotaur turd. Basically everything I loved about Agony now with a regal flair and excellent production. Sharp riffs backed with epic symphonic keyboards are accentuated by some great extreme metal production where the mixer actually knows where the volume knob is. For the insane amount of sound that is assaulting my ears at any given moment it has breathing room so when a song really needs to punch it hits harder than Rocco Sifreddi’s c*$%at a”&$%%£%”&&into some$%”&&$/”%$&&*”$”.
While I feel the songwriting on Agony and Oracles is a bit better because it takes more chances, King shows these Italians really refining their schtick and doing what they do best. All round an enjoyable kick to the nards. Perfect music for trying to drive around in Naples. 4.25
ChristopherMammal – “Oracle” was OK. To me it lacked the depth of symphonic and orchestral elements that might have made it great. I don’t know “Labyrinth”. However, “Agony” was excellent, the kind of symphonic death/black melange that makes me salivate. Naturally I was hoping “King” would at least match “Agony”. I wasn’t disappointed. “King” has quickly become my best Fleshgod Apocalypse album by some distance.
From the grandiose prelude, “Marche Royale”, and its seamless segue into “In Aeternum”, the album expands like Alan Guth’s inflating universe in the Big Bang theory of cosmology. It gives birth to new dimensions and vast expanses seething with infinite background energy. This cosmic expansion continues through to the stately final notes of the title song, the last track.
The voices on “King” impress me tremendously. The relatively sparing use of clean vocals adds just the right balance of contrast and variation to the top-class dark vocals of Tommaso Riccardi. The brief narrated lines serve as stark underliners without resorting to undue melodrama. As for the guest operatic soprano contributions by Veronica Bordacchini… well, she is sublimely wonderful. For a Wagner fan like me, her solo performance on “Paramour (Die Leidenschaft Bringt Leiden)” is so complete that it’s transcendental, reaching into divine realms.
The vocals on “King” are dominantly male (and ace!). The band uses its female voice and choruses like a strategic weapon, and a real devastator it is, too. It knocked me out.
Overall, this is one of the most richly varied, intelligently composed, symphonically rewarding and artistically prodigious albums I’ve heard in a while. In tone it is mainly sombre and fairly martial, with many pulse-pounding riffs and rhythms. It’s easy to understand why Fleshgod Apocalypse is so difficult to categorize. The band describe their music as “death metal classica” (not “classical”). Various websites say they play technical death metal, symphonic death, symphonic black or, as we’ve done, symphonic black/death. Whatever your tastes may be in any of those subgenres – or in more straightforward symphonic and operatic metal – “King” is supremely worthy of addition to your library. 5.0
A Metal State of Mind Score – 4.5 out of 5