Review by Jason Guest
Trivax, all corpsepaint and blasphemy, fill the Slade Rooms with many a menacing and murky riff tainted with acidic lead work that scars itself deeply into the blackly atmospheric density of their wrathful set. As musicians, they’re an adept bunch, drummer M. Croton in particular hitting hard and heavy to shape the sinister foundations upon which these barbaric bastards can lay their corrosive bile. At the end of the set, “Fuck off!” is about as close as we get to stage banter. And so we do. But we shall return. Trivax are worth keeping an eye on. Check their pages for upcoming dates.
Gehtika’s album A Monster In Mourning impressed us here at the rundown squat known as MR Towers, our man Dan Perks calling it a “shot of energy into a genre that, for me, was hanging out of its arse” (review here). And live, the band match the ferocity captured in the malicious grooves of that slab of mighty metal malevolence. Or at least they would be were it not for a sound left wanting. But though the sound may be all low-end muffled throbs of bass drums and mangled riffs and a sharp snare that overshadows the near-muted vocals, Gehtika’s vehemence cannot be dulled. Delivering a full-on performance, their set is as black and deathly as it is energetic. And this crowd is as vehement as the band, hair and horns in the air for every blackened minute.
Xerath’s set is of a broader palette than the preceding bands. While the first two leant heavily on the heavy, the black and the bleak, Xerath bring the groove and the melody and a set list as heavy as it is diverse. Fine musicians, their songs are a display of not only their technical abilities but also of their compositional skill. And on stage they are tight, focussed and driving. Like the two bands before them, they deliver a powerful set to a crowd with horns in abundance, hair doing a better the job than the air conditioning and heads banging in rhythmic unison.
What the three support bands brought to tonight’s stage – darkness, heft, groove, melody and technical ability – Fleshgod Apocalypse bring tenfold. And then some. Throw in classical music lunacy and instrumental virtuosity and what you have is a show that outshines many others in much bigger venues than this. Their album King (reviewed here) is breath-taking. A lesson in musical prowess, to bring it to the stage takes guts. The recording environment means mistakes are easily remedied. But live, fluff one note and the thing falls apart. And so, after an opera singer dressed as what I think is either Poseidon or the Valkyrie Brünnhilde enters the stage, the besuited behemoths make everyone’s nose bleed with envy. Fingers fly as frets burn and eardrums explode as drums are destroyed in a cavalcade of what should be impossible feats of musical agility. Virtuosos one and all, with a Fleshgod Apocalypse gig you get a full orchestra packed tightly into a brutal death metal band and a set list with as much emotional weight as a Beethoven symphony and such complexity and force that it is nothing less than staggering.
Since their formation in 2007, Fleshgod Apocalypse have always been an ambitious band and each of their releases has seen them move from strength to strength. With King they have accomplished something extraordinary. Having seen them in 2010 and 2012 as support acts, with a headlining tour, they can at last bring their dramatic and striking music to the stage and show us all what they have wanted to for so long. And what a joy it is.