Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hybrid Nightmares, Earth Rot, Hollow World @ Max Watts, Melbourne 3/6/2017

Dramatic, dark and enchantingly brutal, Fleshgod Apocalypse consumed Melbourne with a seductively intense performance.

Passion, power and majesty seethed from the walls at Melbourne’s Max Watts as Italy’s masters of melodic technical death metal Fleshgod Apocalypse took the stage for the final chapter of their Australian tour.

In true Direct Touring style, three fine Australian bands were selected to support the Fleshgod Apocalypse, in what was a varied but wholly appropriate showcase of the technical, heavy and performative local talent on offer. The night was opened by Melbourne melodic death metal band Hollow World, who took this prime opportunity to collect some live footage during their song Patient Zero. Hollow World are an energetic, slightly quirky band that drips with laudable skills on all fronts, yet seems to deliver perfectly balanced songs with endearing humility. A collection of songs from their recent first full-length album Exanimate demonstrated Hollow World’s ability to put all strengths on at once without a song sounding overdone. This was the strongest set I have seen them perform to date and a big part of this for me was the live premiere of their astounding and ambitious new single Infect, Replace, Disintegrate.

Perth-based band Earth Rot brought their brand of grimy blackened death metal to the party and levelled a wall-to-wall heavy set for the swelling crowd at Max Watts. This band were tough as nails as they performed a range of their material from high-energy painfully chaotic numbers such as Chthonic Virtues to mid-paced neckbreaking moshpit inciters. Standout for me was the song The Pact that had the best mix of shredding solos, edgy blackened riffs and raw energy in a style of murky, trashy blackened death metal that really suits Earth Rot.

Up next was the strongest performance I have seen to date of Melbourne’s Hybrid Nightmares. One of the most intriguing things about Hybrid Nightmares that came out of this set, even for seasoned fans, was the direction in which they are heading. Despite being a highly productive band with a large catalogue from which to draw upon, Hybrid Nightmares always seems to bring something new to each show. Poised to roll out the hotly anticipated new album Almagest later this year, Hybrid Nightmares unleashed a track from their forthcoming album that simply blew expectations out the water. The bone-crunching track Ultor is heavier than anything I’ve heard yet from Hybrid Nightmares, even more daring in its diversity and clearly, a magnified offering of the dynamic musical narrative style that make this band so unique and exciting. 

Fleshgod Apocalypse have been touring their recent album King and the Melbourne chapter of this endeavour was simply magnificent. I rated King highly in my ‘Top Ten Albums of 2016’ and still believe that this album has lasting impact and I must say at the outset that Fleshgod Apocalypse live is truly a magnification of all the album’s richness and majestic qualities. Fleshgod Apocalypse thundered into their set finely suited in period-style rider’s jackets in the midst of soprano Veronica Bordacchini’s operatically triumphant opening to March Royale and it was obvious that the packed out audience was in for an epic ride. The opening song was like a parade of the astounding vocal elements of Fleshgod Apocalypse that was to come:  Bordacchini’s soaring soprano intertwined with the clean low vocals of bassist Paolo Rossi and the sinister growl of Tommaso Riccardi. As impressive live as recorded, the attention to detail was immaculate, with intricate musical features, such as - among countless others - Cristiano Trionfera’s sparkling tapping solo in Healing Against War, shining through the relentless full-bodied onslaught. Immersive intensity reigned through the mid-set numbers with the catchy layering and powerful dynamic shifting of Cold As Perfection delivered, well, in perfection. This was followed by The Violation, in which drummer Francesco Paoli drove the set to thundering crescendos as Trionfera unleashed almost playful sweeping solos perfectly woven with the piano mania of Francesco Ferrini in Fleshgod Apocalypse’s characteristic confluence of death metal technical finesse and classical composition grandeur.

Just as one couldn’t decide where to watch, the dramatic features of Fleshgod Apocalypse’s live performance weighed in. Soprano Bordacchini took centre stage in the Prologue/Epilogue sequence to a fiery stand off with Riccardi in a spine-chillingly enchanting interlude of melodrama. Such enticing performance laced perfectly over the uncompromisingly heavy background – it’s not to be forgotten that the majority of this concert induced nearly constant wild moshpit action, including an impressive wall of death in The Egoism. The Fleshgod Apocalypse set really fired on all barrels – technical, dramatic, energetic and heavy and was an experience to behold.

Direct Touring has done it yet again, another fantastic, memorable concert featuring a stellar international act with strong Australian supports. The stagecraft of Fleshgod Apocalypse was impeccable, not a moment did the ambience break or the audience not rendered completely spellbound. Fleshgod Apocalypse is phenomenal live, thoroughly enhanced to even greater realms of passion and profoundness by excellent, well-considered performance.

 

Photo courtesy of Jed Burke (Sydney)