Fleshgod Apocalypse - _Labyrinth_
(Nuclear Blast, 2013)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8.5 out of 10)
The sound of Fleshgod Apocalypse is one of massive proportions. In echoing the sublime operas created by their fellow countrymen in the halcyon days of Italian music, they've perfected a formula for a heavily orchestrated death metal sound that explodes with bombastic virtuosity and sheer brilliance. So introductions are in order here with the arrival of one of the most anticipated 2013 albums in extreme metal, and my goodness what an introduction this one puts forth. It starts off with a singing choir that smoothly and very deceptively unleashes a raging, torrential blast that blows its way through the gates of the _Labyrinth_. The beginning of the opening track "Kingborn" is Fleshgod Apocalypse's finest start to an album so far.

2011's _Agony_ was their first foray into this new sound and it was, and remains, a very impressive album. Of course this style is very difficult to pull off, so coming up with a decent album is hard enough; not to mention an album that's a worthy successor for _Agony_. Yet _Labyrinth_ lives up to the standard that these Italians have set for themselves with its very ambitious fifty four minute duration and overall smooth flow. The relentless pounding shelled out on the aforementioned opener is very meticulously balanced with some of the most artful lead guitar work ever to grace a Fleshgod album. Take that solo on "Minotaur (Wrath of Poseidon)" which soars through the clutter almost like a savior while the frenetic pace channels the wrath of Poseidon through the speakers. The same happens on "Elegy" and "Pathfinder"; all coming through with very clear production that's wise enough not to sound overtly polished.

Aside from the common metallic elements of soaring guitars, vicious growls and inhuman drumming, the addition of Francesco Ferrini as the band's orchestrator has taken their sound to new heights. The elegance of the intelligently placed interlude "Prologue" slowly yet briefly comes through the classical guitar, the magnificent cello elevates "Epilogue", while the title track ends the album in the same way as "Agony" ended their previous record. In addition to Ferrini's work, guest soprano Veronica Bordacchini performs majestically on a few occasions, but most notably on "Warpledge" as she provides a very measured counterweight to main-man Tommaso Riccardi's eerie description of the war pledge taken by the fourteen sons of Greece to their king Minos.

Fleshgod Apocalypse is a group of very ambitious musicians. This sprawling musical _Labyrinth_ that they've created is a testament to their ambition and its level of success just goes to show that it is possible to augment extreme metal with elegant orchestral arrangement while avoiding all similarities to power metal. This is definitely going to be a very difficult album to trump, but the same was said about _Agony_ two years ago and look what they've come up with. A glass, ideally of official Fleshgod Apocalypse wine, shall be raised to the stunning aura of this album. Here's to another one for the books of metal history.

Contact: http://www.fleshgodapocalypse.com/

(article published 10/11/2013)

9/30/2011 A El Naby 8 Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony
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