After three long years it’s time for another night at the mosh pit where operatic divas bang their heads to ear splitting death metal riffs, blastbeat drum fury and Chopin inspired classical orchestration gone wild! Yes, FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE is back with their fifth overall studio release (counting the “Mafia” EP) and they are back with a vengeance. Not content to merely release just another album this Italian band decided to up the ante and headed up to Fascination Street studios in Sweden in order to record their latest album KING with the master mixer and mastering maestro Jens Bogren. While the album cover created by Eliran Kantor may not induce the same symphonic death metal feel as albums like “Agony,” it does represent the theme that represents a concept album which represents the brave and noble aspects of each and every one of us cultivating and harvesting our own inner strengths in order to deliver ourselves from the outer Dark Ages.
While the lyrics take the album into the conceptual realms of the progressive and esoteric, the music is still firmly grounded in the symphonic death metal hybridization that the band has been tweaking and refining incrementally with each subsequent album. While the general differences usually lie in the ratio of extreme metal to symphonic elements, i would have to say that KING doesn’t delve too much further in the symphonic orchestral direction which the previous album “Labyrinth” suggested and actually stays within the parameters that that album set. While this balance is maintained between the two genres it is quite differently melded together in different ways.
We get a cool intro with “Marche Royale” that regally sets the pace of a grandness to come. After the initial ceremonial act of a full-orchestrated death march begins, the band wastes no time getting to business utilizing an energetic thrash metal riffing approach that reminds me of Metallica at their late 80s prime and also conjures up all the possibilities that band could have evolved after their mediocre “S&M” experiment that i always found lackluster. It is clear by the way the intro melds into “In Aeternum” that Francesco Paoli’s musical composition skills have grown in prowess and the symphonic classical elements are no longer subordinate to the death metal and both elements have not only gained equal musical powers but the two dance together like a blackened ballerina of death on a razor’s edge of the threnodies of the throne.
The progressiveness of this album is quite impressive as it sounds like they have adopted the best aspects of an Enslaved album with the alternating dueling of the death metal and clean vocals all the while allowing the diva dynamics of soprano Veronica Bordacchini to dominate the soundscape at times which leads me to the one stark surprise of the album which comes at track number seven “Paramour (Die Leidenschaft Bringt Leiden”) which lyrically is lifted from Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. On this track our diva steals the show and does a solo performance with only an accompanying piano. While well performed, this was the direction i feared this album to be heading and despite this being the only bugaboo about this album, it doesn’t last long and probably tries to advertise the fact that this album is also released as a double discker in digi-pak with a second CD that contains the album in an all orchestral version. I have opted to pass on this because if i want to hear pure classical music i’ll stick to the classics.
With a nice balance between thrash, death and progressive metal all woven around seductive symphonic classical grooves, i find KING to be yet another excellent album in the quality over quantity world of FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE where each passing album only expands its tentacles into more intricacies of fine tuning what the band already excels in. Similar to their other albums, the tracks flow together seamlessly creating a nearly full hour listening experience delivering excellent musicianship and stellar production and mixing of two opposing musical forces. It’s like making a painting with oil and water and somehow manipulating them at an atomic level to make them dance together like the hippo from “Fantasia” with tattooed skateboard punk dude in the mosh pit. An acquired taste perhaps but if you’ve built this type of musical hybrid into your palette of eclecticness than KING will not disappoint.