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Fleshgod Apocalypse - "King" (CD)

Fleshgod Apocalypse - "King" CD cover image

"King" track listing:

1. Marche Royale
2. In Aeternum
3. Healing Through War
4. The Fool
5. Cold As Perfection
6. Mitra
7. Paramour (Die Leidenschaft bringt Leiden)
8. And The Vulture Beholds
9. Gravity
10. A Million Deaths
11. Syphilis
12. King

Reviewed by on January 7, 2016

"When describing the band and 'King' in particular, it’s like getting butchered, gutted, and screwed by a very well dressed Renaissance era Italian."

I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that if you marry classical and symphonic to any form of metal, it would pique my interest to a fault. For longtime fans of Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse, that element was more a highlight and less a dependence, especially on 2009’s “Oracles.” Since 2011’s “Agony,” the band has incorporating more and more of this sound to its disorganized chaos like an evil genius trying to harness the power of the sun with solar flares cascading out in all directions. For fans such as me, “King” represents the pinnacle of the band’s career. For early fans, “King” might be a little too “normal.”

When “Labyrinth” was unleashed back in 2013, it represented a sound that captured my imagination and caught my attention away from the name which was misunderstood to conjure a quite different sound than what came through my ears. A subsequent mindblowing live performance sealed my fandom. Going backwards through the band’s brief catalog, it is apparent the band made a conscious dramatic upward shift towards symphonic elements. Fine by me. “King” takes it even further, which nearly makes some of the material more “straight edge” than ever, which will likely deepen the despair of early fans and detractors of “Labyrinth.”

When describing the band and “King” in particular, it’s like getting butchered, gutted, and screwed by a very well dressed Renaissance era Italian. It rips into the listener like a tornado through a Kansas cornfield of subgenres. It’s like a boat of musical compositions capsized into an ocean of classical orchestration. It’s like the zombification of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. It’s as if Ex Deo, Epica, Carcass and Mozart were all in a blender. But I digress.

In many ways, Fleshgod Apocalypse has reigned in the bedlam in favor of more brooding linear material like on “Cold As Perfection,” “Gravity” (which bears a striking resemblance to Morbid Angel) and “Syphilis” – all while brilliantly weaving in clean male and female operatic vocal styles in a way that seems slightly off kilter. It’s that odd machination, where when things seem normal there remains an evil awkward presence that makes Fleshgod Apocalypse one of the most unique bands on the planet.

Away from the brooding linear material, the band flashes a more typical tirade of destruction in tracks like “Mitra,” “The Fool,” “Healing Through War,” and album favorite “A Million Deaths.” The latter charges forth like Ex Deo just before erupting into a fountain of symphonic brutality. Perhaps the most intriguing additions to “King” are the classical/operatic piece “Paramour (Die Leidenschaft bringt Leiden)” and the instrumental closing title track – so very un-Fleshgod like.

For fans of symphonic death at its finest, Fleshgod Apocalypse is at the top of the heap, though fans of “Oracles” may find the material a little too straightforward and normal. Where there is no argument, it is in the fact that the band weaves a tapestry of a chaotic extreme symphony that is both genius and unique. Old world meets new and the “King” will rise.

Highs: A truly unique blend of chaos and classical.

Lows: Some fans of the ultra extreme days of "Oracles" may find parts of the material too "mundane."

Bottom line: Following the progression of "Labyrinth," a new "King" will rise from chaos and classical.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)