By Ola Mazzuca
“Come esco di qua?”
You’ll be asking, “How do I get out of here?” in Italian upon first listen of Labyrinth, the third release from brutal Romans, Fleshgod Apocalypse. It’s a sonic maze that leaves your ears ringing and brain buzzing with incessant blastbeats, plummeting tremolo bars and a perfect guttural growl from Cristiano Trionfera.
The album commences in conceptual form with “Kingborn.” It sounds like someone has been aboard ship for days before reaching the Mediterranean shore. Upon arrival, it’s night. Cicadas chirp. A nomad breathes deep. Inhale…Exhale… He walks a dark path before reaching a door, turning the latch and entering. Fleshgod Apocalypse do a solid job of depicting the Knossos labyrinth of Heraklion, Greece – the inspiration for the album, and a trope for lifelong soul searching.
The twisting, turning spiral that follows is a fine blend of symphonic elements, key-laden and deep in tone on “Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon).” Fleshgod Apocalypse always employ heavy elements of blackened death metal as a background to their stunning technical skills. Sweep picking is super clean and occur at the right time. Applaud Francesco Ferrini, Fleshgod’s ultra-focused pianist and orchestrator for the epic contrast piece, “Towards The Sun,” where hope glimmers in operatic aesthetic, before lingering at the closure of “Warpledge.”
The beautiful “Prologue” gives your neck a break before plunging back into another challenging riffs and beats – kind of like thinking that you’re closer to the exit, yet back to where you’ve started. Labyrinth is an audible reflection of the album’s concept: chaotic with erudite intricacy. Look beyond the perpetual bewildering shifts of tempo and style, and you’ll gain much respect for Fleshgod Apocalypse’s pursuit of higher thinking.