Fleshgod Apocalypse and my irrational hatred of (all other) keyboard metal

Fleshgod Apocalypse

Note: this post was written in a hotel in Hamburg, overlooking the notorious red-light Reeperbahn on a quiet Sunday night whilst digesting jagerschnitzel and Weihenstephaner. Hell’s Pleasure and Headbanger’s Open Air have occupied the last two weeks and we’re off to Wacken on Wednesday to complete the festival trifecta.

Symphonic metal is not my cup of tea. In fact, pretty much anything with keyboards is rarely my cup of tea. Case in point: I saw Dimmu Borgir live and really enjoyed them. Turns out it was because the keyboards were virtually inaudible in the live mix. Unfortunately I can’t get into their recorded material at all (I gave it a shot).

From where does this dislike of keyboards stem? My mother really wanted me to play the piano and I had a couple of years of lessons as a kid, although I never got very far and didn’t really enjoy it (the music-reading skills I picked up were very handy, however). I did half of a degree in “classical” music and there are particular periods and composers I very much enjoy, but the intersection of metal and the classical- or romantic-era symphony orchestra sound just doesn’t mesh well in my mind. Perhaps it’s that the keyboard/piano seems to be the absolute least “metal” instrument there is. Whatever.

But Fleshgod Apocalypse are the exception to the rule. I really dig this band. Their 2009 album Oracles and 2010 EP Mafia are outstanding and on my frequent rotation list. Being very in-your-face, these albums were also effective weapons against the neighbour-who-would-not-stop-with-the-john-farnham-at-8am as well. Yet Fleshgod Apocalypse’s sound is without a doubt both keyboard-oriented and symphonic, my two least-liked metal elements.

So what is it about these crazy Italians that makes them the exception to my “keep your electronic orchestra away from my metal” rule? Maybe it’s that the keyboards and operatic tenor are overlaid on foundations that are about as brutal and dizzyingly virtuosic as technical death metal gets. I don’t know for sure – all I know is that I like it a lot. Check out Thru Our Scars from Mafia (the stuff I shouldn’t like but somehow does kicks in at about 1:44):


So. It’s 2011 and there’s new material on the way in the form of a second full length studio album, Agony, due August 9th. The first song released to the public ahead of the album release was The Violation. Uh-oh… I don’t really like it. Have a listen:


What don’t I like? I think it’s the “borrowing” of half the main hook from Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in G minor. It’s a nod and hat tip to the master of 18th century riff-writing but it just grates. Perhaps because this song starts out symphonic, and adds death metal almost as an afterthought. Whereas most of the other Fleshgod Apocalypse songs are the other way around. Again, I don’t know. A lot of questions are being raised in this post that I don’t have satisfactory answers for. Sorry about that.

Fortunately, the second song released from Agony is more like the Fleshgod I know and love. A bit of “sorry old goat, is this more what you’re after?”. It’s called The Egoism and you can listen to it on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/fleshgodapocalypse?sk=app_178091127385. I couldn’t find a YouTube link of the recorded version to embed but they have performed it live before:


There are previews of each song from Agony available on iTunes already according to No Clean Singing, but as I’m not an iSlave, don’t live in a Spotify-friendly country and Nuclear Blast are not down with Bandcamp, I’ll have to wait until I can get my hands on the official hard-copy release. Bummer.

Fleshgod Apocalypse on MySpace
Fleshgod Apocalypse on Facebook
Fleshgod Apocalypse on YouTube
Fleshgod Apocalypse on Twitter

~ by goat_admin on August 1, 2011.