If you haven’t encountered Fleshgod Apocalypse before, apart from having an extremely striking band name, they play an exciting and intriguing blend of symphonic and brutal Death Metal that has few peers and really does get the juices flowing.
There’s a lot of content on this release, lasting almost an hour in total. Now fully embracing their Classical influences, the songs on King merge both symphonic and Extreme Metal worlds in ways that very few bands could pull off. Septic Flesh, Therion and a handful of others are in the same league, but for outright speed and brutality combined with Classical influences, none really come close to Fleshgod Apocalypse, none that I’ve heard at any rate.
This is high operatic art, as applied to the realm of Extreme Metal. With a bombastic production the band’s compositions are nuanced and subtle, all hiding behind a ostentatious veneer of brutal Metal. Strength and power are exemplified on these tracks.
The deep growling vocals keep the aggressive elements at the forefront of their sound, while the soaring cleans make for uplifting and powerful additions. These clean vocals masterfully avoid the commercially-tinged climes of bands that usually incorporate them into an Extreme Metal framework and instead allow them to enhance and merge with the busy, complex music. Operative female cleans also appear in places, further impressing.
The symphonic elements are ubiquitous and relentless, providing an epic backdrop onto which the Metal is writ large. This is more than just one style being added to the other though, as the merging appears to take place at the cellular level, with both styles embracing each other. In places this even verges on the kind of symphonic territory that certain strains of Heavy/Power Metal have occupied so well over the years.
All of this on its own would be impressive enough, but the real test of longevity is the quality of the songs. After all, if it was all flashy style and no substance, then sure it would sound impressive on first listen, but it would soon get old. All of this is, I suppose, a rather long-winded way of saying that the songs are well-written in addition to everything else, and it is this more than anything else that will allow King to pass the test of time and multiple listens. These songs work, and work very well.
King demonstrates a band at the peak of their creative powers in many ways, and it will be interesting to see what paths they tread in the future. I personally hope they take the Classical/operatic angle even further and become even more epic in scope. We’ll see. For now though, King is a suitably majestic release for something that bears such an appellation, one that I insist you listen to as soon as you can.