The Interview

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Last year, Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse unleashed ‘Agony’, their second full-length album. After delivering a debut album (‘Oracles’) and an EP (‘Mafia’) that injected classical instrumentation and symphonics into brutal death metal, ‘Agony’ fully merged the two elements that created a divisive collision of sounds. Some trumpeted it as chaotic, noisy mess while others (me included) hailed it as one of the year’s best death metal albums. When I found out that the band would be touring the US, and hit a relatively close venue along with my favorite deathcore band, All Shall Perish, I had to make the three hour trip and see them live. As a bonus guitarsit/vocalist Christiano Trionfera was kind enough to visit with me a little bit and talk a little further about, Agony’, the current tour and the future of Fleshgod Apocalypse…

So, how is the tour going so far?

Very good. We get along with all the bands on the tour (All Shall Perish, Carnifex, Conducting From the Grave and The Contortionist) . Everyone are cool guys and we are having a great time. The weather over here has been awesome too. We are enjoying the crowds and I think we are for sure making some new fans on this tour.

You mentioned enjoying the bands you are touring with and getting new fans. To me you guys are the only ‘real’ or ‘pure’ death metal band on the bill?

Well, some fans would not call us ‘pure’ death metal nowadays as some fans say if we use keyboards we are not pure death metal and I would agree with that. But I would say we were the most death metal styled band on this tour. I feel like this package is pretty different. It is good to be on a tour with different styled bands. For example The Contortionist are very different and psychedelic, Conducting from the Grave are modern death metal with metalcore elements. I would enjoy this show as a fan as I would see  a lot of different styles.

Has there been any issues with the crowd being much more heavily leaning into deathcore or metalcore?

Of course. That’s bound to happen. But we are getting new fans because of that. Sometimes there are weird crowds where the crowd is just kind of staring out you trying to figure out what is going on. We are a really fans band with alot going on, no breakdowns and they might not be sure what to think of us.

I thought it was ironic that right now Hour Of Penance is finishing up a US tour and I thought that a bill with two brutal Italian bands would be a better overall bill.

Yeah I think there last show was this week. That would be a fun tour, we are all good friends, have shared members and we have known each other for 10 years. We actually met in New York when we both played the New England metal festival, and that was so much fun. Meeting some of your best friends on totally different tours so far from home is great fun.

Speaking of you guys and Hour of Penance, you guys seem to be the pinnacle of Italian brutality, but there are some really good second tier bands like Vomit the Soul, Gory Blister, Antropofagus and such — is Italian death metal getting ready to really break out?

I think so. What I see is that over the last two years, we are touring more outside of Italy. That would not have happened a few years ago. We all hope that this is changing as there is a lot of great music coming out of our country and the attitude towards the music is changing even in our own country, where it is hard to be playing death metal.

Lets get on to Agony. On Oracles and on the EP, Mafia, the classical elements sort of spread around and injected here and there to start or stop songs or a bridge in the middle. But in Agony it’s full on mixed in. What was the decision making process to make that change?

We wanted to evolve. We have a mission in our mind about the vision of the band’s sound. It took a little while to fully make that choice because you always have doubts when you want to make a change to the structure of the band. We needed a full time keyboard player, which isn’t a choice you make in one day. That decision was the natural thing to do. A lot of people think that when we switched to Nuclear Blast, that they made us or asked to make the switch, but it was actually the opposite. They heard what we were like before and when we told them we wanted to do a symphonic album, they were like, ‘really? er… OK’.

Do you see staying with this current sound for the next album or changing things up again?

I think so. I can’t say for sure. The symphonic elements are a major part of our sound and also from composition point of view, the way we use those parts where we start with the symphonics and the drums then add everything else, we cant really change that. We add the guitars vocals and bass as part of the orchestra , as part of the ensemble. Our main goal is to sound like a symphony, but a death metal one.

Speaking of symphonies, bands like Metallica, Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir have moved from keyboards and started using full or partial live  orchestra’s instead of synths. Have you considered such a move?

We would love to work with a full orchestra. A real one. That’s a challenge for a musician to make those work together. But I don’t think we have anyone in Italy we can use, but I’m sure we can find someone. Classical music is part of the culture and history of Italy, so we should be able to find someone.

Going back to the Mafia EP, I loved the cover of At The Gates’ “Blinded By Fear”. Any plans for any other covers in the future?

There are some possibilities. We don’t really plan anything definitive, we just kind of talk about it.  We would love to cover Rammstein. But it’s hard. There are legal issues and stuff. We are always interested in covering bands we love.  That’s why we did “Blinded By Fear”, we are always curious to hear how songs sound in our way.

What has been the response from the other guys on the tour who are all American bands with a more core based sound?

There is a great vibe on this tour. We all understand each other and get along. All the guys have been great to us. We have gotten lots of praise from everyone. We never expected this kind of repsonse and kindness from these kinds of bands.

Whats up next after this tour?

We are almost done here, this is almost the last date. Then we fly back to Italy for a little break. Then we will play a moving outdoor metal festival in Europe. It’s like eight festivals. This year there are bands like Blind Guardian and Hypocrisy. It’s our first real ‘big’ outdoor festival.

Have you noticed ay major difference between the European and American audiences?

American audiences are more easy going, they have more fun in a way. They enjoy the festivals and they love all of the bands. There are good crowds in places you would not expect. In Europe things are more specific A power metal festival, a death metal festival. I think European fans need to be more convinced than American crowds.

When can we expect some new material? Do you guys write on the road or need to go home to write?

We are busy touring the rest of the year. We can’t write on the road. We need a break to write. Especially with those symphonic parts, we need the equipment and such to be able to write that.

When writing those symphonic parts, is any thought given to how they sound like in a live setting?

Yeah, we try to take in that aspect. Even though it’s not easy. We try to make the arrangements sound so they will sound good live, sometimes though you realize some songs just won’t work live and some sound better.

What does your set list consist of? Mix of old and new?

We are trying to focus on the newer stuff. We will be playing “The Hypocrisy”, “The Forsaken”, “The Violation and Thru Our Scars” from Mafia. We tour the US pretty often so the last time we toured we played stuff from Oracles. We don’t want to repeat ourselves on tours.


  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    great interview, thanks for doing it! loved Agony, brilliant integration of symphonies and death metal – cool to get a peek into their process and thinking

  2. Commented by: Jay

    Although their newest release is quite ‘symphonically’ brutal but I still think that their older releases were far more stronger and coherent.

  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    saw this comment on the YouTube video for ‘The Violation,’ I lol’d:

    “The drummer fingered five chicks last night. No survivors.”

  4. Commented by: Jono

    The video for “The Violation” is fantastic….if a little homoerotic.

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