Fleshgod Apocalypse
Labyrinth

Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s second full-length album, Agony was my favorite album of 2011, so I’ll warn you, you can throw objectivity and unbiased opinions out of the window right now. I love these guys. However, Agony was surprisingly divisive as the band integrated full-on orchestration to their vortex of Italian technical brutality, with the end result essentially being if fellow Italians Hour of Penance mated with a philharmonic orchestra and choirs. Many thought that the orchestration was too busy and too much, and the death metal was soulless and clinical, all valid points, but many, like me, thought it was an absolute masterpiece. So depending on which view you held of Agony, you can pretty much carry that over to Labyrinth.

Other than a conceptual theme based on the famous Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, Labyrinth recreates everything you either loved or hated on Agony. Full-on classical, orchestral arrangements and choirs (which seem much more prevalent and effective this time) that make Dimmu Borgir look like a middle school band colliding with relentless, hyperspeed technical death metal powered by Francesco Paoli’s (ex Hour of Penance) ridiculously fast drumming. Other than maybe a couple more moments of control, it’s the exact same result, and for me that result is devastatingly perfect and beautiful brutality.

“Kingborn” starts the album with a fairly lengthy sample of a man walking along a beach and entering a large hall before erupting in truly, epic, choir-dominated, blistering Fleshgod fashion. The second track “Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon”)” sees the band reign things in on the album early on with a slower, marching track equivalent to “The Egoism” or “The Forsaking”, but this level of restraint is pretty rare on the album, occurring only one other time on the first part of “Towards the Sun”, somber “Epilogue” or the short instrumentals, “Labyrinth” and “Prologue”. Otherwise, you get sheer velocity and cripplingly epic symphonics like “Elegy” and “The Fall of Asterion”, uber rousing “Warpledge” (where the female operatic really work), dramatic “Pathfinder” with its real movie score feel, and the penultimate track, “Under Black Sails”, the album’s longest track which mixes a little of everything into one epic and tragic (if you know the story) end note before the title track sends things off with orchestral closure.

On the niggling side, I’m still not a huge fan of bassist Paulo Rossi’s clean croons, and at times there is just too much going on, especially with the clinical production not helping every element breathe, but it’s all piece of the overall result that is dominated by the symphonics and death metal. Also I can’t seem to pick a favorite or go-to track as with “The Violation” or “The Betrayal” from Agony, as all the tracks are pretty darn good, “Towards the Sun” comes close though, but none of those issues are a deal breaker and simply does not change the fact that Labyrinth is yet another spectacular effort. Even if this isn’t hitting me quite as impressively as Agony, it’s partly due to how Agony blindsided me and I knew what I was getting with Labyrinth, it’s still going to be an album of the year contender.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 19th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Need to hear this!!!


  2. Commented by: diggedy1

    Got my copy coming in the mail. The main knock on these guys seems to still be the “I can’t hear the guitars” argument. I appreciate bands, especially extremely technical bands such as FA that demand repeated listens. I thought the same thing about their guitars with Agony till I actually sat down and listened intently with some headphones. The total package these guys offer should be commended.


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