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Fleshgod Apocalypse: Labyrinth

Breathless grandeur from Italy’s demented death metallers

The word ‘epic’ has been so routinely abused by the online dimbo brigade that it takes a certain panache and audacity to wrestle that adjective’s meaning back on metal’s behalf. Fleshgod Apocalypse have already proved themselves to be a death metal band with a widescreen vision, but even though their two previous albums aimed high and embraced a degree of grandeur familiar to fans of Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir, Labyrinth signifies a strident and purposeful march into uncharted bombast and bluster.

The Italians’ trademark blast-driven assault is present and correct, and songs like Kingborn and Towards The Sun add little in terms of riffing and hyperspeed kick drums, but it’s the orchestration, choral embellishments and air of operatic euphoria that makes this such an overwhelming rush of Wagnerian opulence.

On the ominous sprawl of Under Black Sails, the Fleshgod boys reaffirm their brutal metallic values while wallowing in a refined swamp of melodrama that would seem utterly ludicrous were it not so skilfully expressed. Epic squared.

Dom Lawson has been writing for Hammer and Prog for 14 intermittently enjoyable years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He listens to more music than you. And then writes about it.