17 March 2016
Review by Demitri Levantis
Photography by Carina Martins
Italy is a nation deeply enriched with history and culture. It has given us some of the world’s finest artists, architects, philosophers, war heroes and musicians.
With musicians, the most recent gem of modern music to come from Italy found their way onto the British Isles again to promote their latest studio album.
Fleshgod Apocalypse are renowned for fusing classical symphonies with technical death metal and putting on impressive live shows. And there was nothing short of mind blowing about their venture to the Underworld, Camden on Thursday 17th March.
First on the bill were the UK death metal act Hades Lab [3/5], who certainly seemed to know what they were doing but I don’t think the crowd felt the same way.
I can only assume this young blooded band was composed of veterans of the country’s metal scene as they blasted from song to song with all the right growls and down tuned guitars and a good mix of classic black and old school grindcore to give a pretty impressive opening act.
However I don’t think the people in the audience were quite that enthusiastic to begin with, but by the end of the set I think Hades Lab had won them over. A nice intro to a good night, see you again soon Hades Lab.
Then came the second act, Xerath [2.5/5]. A group I tend to have a truly weird relationship with because I’ve never fully understood them.
I find their sound very hard to classify as they fuse a great deal of elements together such as symphonic metal, death and thrash with the odd few grooves and some chord progressions which wouldn’t look out of place in a djent band.
I’ve never also understood their concept, are they a science fiction themed band or they trying to look space related but trying desperately to stand out from the rest?
Anyways, the group took to the stage and the crowd had increased by a wide margin, ready for the band. And it was when Xerath took to the stage I fully made up my mind about them: I can’t stand Xerath.
They were one of the first metal bands I ever saw live many aeons ago and I think over their nine year career they’ve become all the more concerned in keeping their fan base loyal than concentrating on new material.
Frontman Richard Thomson seemed more like a hype man than a vocalist by how he seemed so concerned with keeping the crowd moshing rather than getting on with the songs. Plus I felt one of the guitarists was eagerly trying to impress the crowd with his talents by bringing on a twelve string guitar which I just couldn’t see the purpose of.
Everyone else around me seemed to be getting into them, but this is a band who have gone stale for me. Another group so determined to be different they’ve ended up making a shadow of their former self. Perhaps a change of direction or a hiatus is in order. Sorry guys.
But the night was saved by the headliners who came on stage looking like a group of wandering minstrels who’d just arrived in town all the way from 18th century Venice.
Fleshgod Apocalypse [4/5] really are one of a kind by looking like a symphonic metal act with some added dust and paint to make you wonder if they’re into black metal, but the sound is totally different.
I also cannot think of any other band with custom made guitars reflecting their symphonic output. I was quite taken by the band playing on string instruments that looked like Stradivarius violins and a keyboard made to look like an ancient honky tonk.
So the group took off with more than enough power to make the crowd go absolutely bananas. Tales of mythology, philosophy and the struggles of men and women in the modern world poured into the crowd in a fast and raw, gritty maelstrom of metal music.
Not once did I see a single slip up from any of the band. They also performed classics from across their nine year career, not just from new album ‘King’, which madee me very satisfied.
But if there was anything I disliked about the Italian bards, it was the use of confetti during the encore. The machine was badly placed and I felt backing vocalist Veronica Bordacchini got unfairly covered in the paper which affected her sopranos. Plus I’m no fan of the stuff because it gets everywhere and I didn’t see the need for it at this gig.
Apart from that, this was a truly theatrical act of Italian maestro. No other band I’ve seen has pulled off such a well versed take on such an interesting mix of metal genres dressed in classic musical garments. I certainly won’t be forgetting this gig in a long time.
Great work Fleshgod Apocalypse, come back and entertain us again soon.