Fleshgod Apocalypse


Written by: MST on 18/09/2013 14:29:29

In 2011, symphonic death metal as a genre was rising in popularity at a steady pace. All of a sudden it exploded, when Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse released their second album through Nuclear Blast. "Agony" was an enormous success, as it saw the brutal death metallers (or technical death metallers as some insist on labeling them) expand on the symphonic influences that were already prominent on the band's first full-length and the EP that followed. Reviewers around the world didn't all agree with the success the band were experiencing as a result of the album, as there was one major issue with it: the guitars played a very minor role in the new FA sound, an unforgivable offense to some. Regardless of the preconceptions and expectations from fans and critics alike, this effectively sophomore (symphonic) album was always going to be an immensely difficult challenge for the Italian death metal quintet.

On first listen, Fleshgod Apocalypse's third opus "Labyrinth" sounds like you would expect it to: Francesco Paoli's amazing drumwork ranging from furious blasting to textured mid-tempo pounding; a heavy backdrop of bass and guitars laying the foundation of the musical soundscape; mainly growled vocals but also extremely high pitch clean vocals courtesy of bassist Paolo Rossi; and finally: the vast symphonic atmosphere that makes "Labyrinth" the symphonic death metal album it is. These symphonics include pianos, large vocal choirs as well as an actual soprano singer in Veronica Bordacchini, and of course various strings and horns. Fleshgod Apocalypse did indeed build upon the sound they presented on "Agony" when they wrote this new album, but there are clear differences. Firstly, the biggest problem with "Agony", the absence of notable guitar riffs has been at least worked on as there are definitely lots of riffs to be heard across the album. The riffs aren't necessarily great at all times, but songs like "Elegy" and "Pathfinder" rely on the guitars a lot more than any song on that aforementioned sophomore effort. There are even quite a few solos scattered across the album, but this was clearly a mistake because the solos are boring to say the least. Secondly, the songs on "Labyrinth" sound a lot less alike than the songs on "Agony". Where "Agony" was mostly a case of 'play death metal fast with symphonic orchestrations and the result is epic', FA decided that for this album, each separate song should be different. Sounds good, right? From a fan of "Agony" however, I miss the immediate red thread as "Labyrinth" sounds more like a collection of songs than a full album which should be listened to from start to finish.

"Labyrinth" has been a difficult album to properly form an opinion on. On one hand, I want to love the album, and there's plenty of reason to do so: when Fleshgod Apocalypse are good, they're extremely good, showcased best in the track "Elegy" with its mid-paced verses with prominent guitar riffs and violins and the contrast between these verses and the blasting drums in the bridges and choruses of the song, the latter of which is dominated by Rossi's epic clean vocals. On the other hand, there's this strange feeling of actually really liking most of an album, but still being somewhat disappointed by the overall product. As a full album, "Labyrinth" just doesn't feel as complete as "Agony" did, due in part to the quality of the individual songs tending to vary quite a bit. But the biggest problem is that dreaded red thread that seems to be missing. Fleshgod Apocalypse's third album definitely has its moments of brilliance, but as a whole album it's not the epic follow-up to "Agony" that I had hoped for.

Download: Kingborn, Elegy, Under Black Sails
For The Fans Of: Septicflesh, Hour Of Penance, Xerath
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.08.2013
Nuclear Blast Records

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