Recommended Aussie Band:HORIZONS EDGE | Melbourne Power Metal | Listen

Album Reviews : Fleshgod Apocalypse – King

By on March 1, 2016

549315Fleshgod Apocalypse are back! Or, if you’ve never heard of them before, Fleshgod Apocalypse are here! Probably doesn’t make too much of a difference, to be honest.

Full disclosure; I went on tour with these guys mid-2015 (AND YOU CAN HEAR ALL ABOUT IT IN MY UPCOMING MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL SHOW), and I got to see them perform every night for a week. This has undoubtedly coloured my opinion of them; where once I heard a pretty fast, theatrical, and technically intriguing death metal, I now see a bunch of impressive motherfuckers. Now I can hear the groove beneath the blasting, feel the grit and sweat in the riffs, hear the human in the growls.

I’m mentioning this for two reasons. The first is so I can brag about touring with them, and the second is that, before the tour, I would have never gone to see these guys live. But having to choose between seeing them live, pissing about backstage or trying my luck by pointing to a menu item and hoping it’s not pulverised squid testes (did I mention it was an international tour? It was.) I was almost forced to experience them, over and over, and because of that I feel like I appreciate them in a whole new way. So if you haven’t seen them live, maybe this record will sound different to you, but just keep in mind as you read this review, that you’re wrong.

This album comes in two different parts, and I want to mention them separately, so this review might be a little longer than normal. You can cut down on the time it takes to read it by not reading any more reviews, ever, for the rest of your life, and just forming your own opinion.

The first part is King, the death metal album. A departure from Fleshgod’s usual pace of “balls being torn off at Mach-10”, this album sounds like it might be their slowest, which still places them orders of magnitude faster than every other death metal band, and most hummingbirds. But tracks like Healing Through War and Gravity have a rumbling and stomping groovy quality to them, like watching a glacier carve a new valley in Cheetah speed. They still use 16th notes almost exclusively for their “breakdowns”, but the tempo itself has been dialled down to “human”.

Though don’t get the wrong idea; this is still impressive musical wizardry. The guitar work is tight and clear, the drums have plenty of flourish, and all the vocals are vastly improved upon; the screams are more hair-raising and human, the male operatics are stronger and grittier, and the female operatics, finally getting more of a look in, are world-class.

This is all helped by the mix and master, which has pressed everything together, but in a way which makes the final product sound cohesive. Nothing is the focus, and nothing is lacking – you are supposed to enjoy every song as a piece of music, not as a ‘drum track’, or a ‘guitar track.’

My only problem with the album is that by the end of it, it almost started to sound like orchestral death white noise. All the songs with personality are up top, and by the end of the (first) CD it’s just mushy. Maybe I don’t have the attention span these days, but it seems like there is a noticeable difference between The Fool (a stand out track) and A Million Deaths.

The second part of this album, and of this review, is King the contemporary classical album, and oh my fuck if it isn’t perfect.

A lot of bands release secondary mixes of albums, usually devoid of vocals, presumably because they know what their fans are after. If memory serves it’s bands like TesseracT, Rings Of Saturn and Periphery; bands that have impressive vocalists in their own right, but who produce music that screams and sings and wanks get in the way of. I’ve always wondered how those vocalists must feel, but then I remember that I don’t give a fuck.

Fleshgod Apocalypse have taken a slightly different tact, releasing a B-Side of just the classical compositions that accompany every song. And far from just bouncing down the “Samples” track, the album has a new mix and master, giving every instrument room to breath.

Listening to the classical album is such a joy, on so many levels. It’s like listening to an awesome soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, so your enjoyment of the passages isn’t ruined by being reminded of Frodo traipsing daintily over tundra, the little shit. Also, given the key most death metal is written it, it avoids the overly triumphant and saccharine tones and melodies normal classical music goes through. Your grandma would tsk at this.

It’s also nice to listen to this, and then having your brain fill in the blanks on the death metal version. There are so many tiny bits lost beneath the original mix, that having your subconscious mix them in for you later definitely enhances the songs, and helps you appreciate just how fucking inhumanly talented these gents are.

Both of these albums stand on their own. Together, they feed into each other. Fleshgod Apocalypse have managed to create a dark, groovy and technically impressive death metal, and  a dark, groovy and technically impressive classical album, the latter of which is something I’ve been looking for for a very long time. What a bunch of show offs.

About

Mitch is a 26 year old vegan, socialist, atheist, utilitarian, reductionist metalhead, stand up comedian and philosophy major that hates labels. When he isn't being politely ignored at dinner parties he's being politely ignored on comedy nights around the country.