Symphonic vs death metal: the evolution of Fleshgod Apocalypse

By Georgi Bomb

Fleshgod Apocalypse must have a good work ethic; forming in 2007, it is rare these days not to have at least one or two line up changes.

However, this symphonic, death metal and all-round orchestral-influenced lads from Italy stand firmly in their places.

Fleshgod Apocalypse are currently in the UK with Skeletonwitch, supporting pals, The Black Dahlia Murder, whom they joined on last year’s Summer Slaughter tour.

Vocalist and guitarist, Cristiano Trionfera, talks to Culture Bomb editor, Georgi, about the challenges of writing, the “birth” of their artwork and how not all song covers, are a good idea.

Georgi Bomb: Let’s kick things off – how’s the tour going?

Cristiano Trionfera: “Very good, so far. It’s incredibly good to tour the UK, especially with the package.

“The Black Dahlia Murder and Skeletonwitch are two great bands and great guys and we knew the BDM from before when we toured with them during the Summer Slaughter tour in the US last summer.

“We were pretty much friends and it’s always better to have good people to share the stage with and the UK is always good to us and 21 gigs in the UK is a lot; it’s good because we have the chance to meet different people in different places from the usual places we play here in the UK so it’s very good.”

GB: Now tell me more about this headlining tour come March?

CT: “It’s going to be great for a lot of our fans and it’s going to be good because it’s going to be a longer set.

“For us, we are going to have the chance to build up a little more of a show which is very right for us; we take care of our visual part and not just the musical part so it’s going to be very interesting.”

GB: So you much prefer the headlining shows because you offer more?

CT: “Yeah I think so. When we have only half an hour set, we try to offer a show which is something from the beginning to the end but it’s not really easy when you have technical problems, for example.

“You cannot solve them because you don’t have the time; from the changeover to setting it up in the right way; so you try to do your best to build up the show.

“Of course when you headline you have more time and you have your space so it’s better for sure.”

GB: Do you think it’s the combination of the symphonic sound mixed with death metal is the reason fans are drawn to Fleshgod Apocalypse?

CT: “From our point of view inside the band, it’s pretty much what we wanted to do from the beginning.

“We started the project with this idea and we were curious to see how the two different worlds could be melted together. That’s pretty much our path and evolution.

“Our sound has moved a little bit from the more classic way of writing death metal music on the first album, and then with the EP Mafia, we started experimenting a little bit more with clean vocals and a more melodic way of moving on the songs, but still trying to keep the brutality and the death metal way of doing the music.

“Agony, our last album, we pretty much changed it into a new level, with a more symphonic way of writing the music.

“Not necessarily starting from the guitars riffing but from the orchestra itself, and using the guitars and bass as part of the orchestra so it has changed a little bit.

“But it’s the basic idea we had and the evolution we are having is all into that one idea.”

GB: Is it challenging writing music that combines two polar opposite genres?

CT: “Our last album has been really challenging to write, record and to mix, actually. Also, because it has been the first for us doing this kind of music – a real symphonic death metal album or extreme metal in general.

“It’s not like the symphonic black metal albums, which are a little bit different, but we still keep the death metal way of moving on the riffs and the melodies.

“So I think that pretty much the biggest challenge on our way of writing the music is keeping the pressure on the music you do. It’s that pressure that you need to make your music as extreme as you like but still keeping it symphonic and melodic in the way of writing, you know?

“It’s not easy if you tried to do that in a serious way then you realise that these are two things that pretty much fight between each other and this has been the most challenging thing.”

GB: Do you have plans to cover anymore songs, like you did with Carcass’ Heartwork on the Agony album?

CT: “We always have but when we write albums, we come out with different ideas like, y’know, inputs and different things because we are curious about hearing songs we love and ones we have grown with in the Fleshgod way.

“Some of them can come out in a good way, some are terrible, I swear (laughs).”

GB: Are they that bad?

CT: Oh god yeah! We try different songs. But yeah, you know it’s funny and in some ways it’s a way to look at something new and different  inside yourself. Looking into your roots.

GB: Do you think trying out these cover songs aids creativity?

CT: “Yeah, sometimes you feel you are doing it a little bit too different from the original and sometimes you feel you have to rearrange something and rewrite some things to put your own stamp on it.

“What we like to do is sound as if it was ours, which is weird because from one side you feel you shouldn’t do that but from the other side you feel that yeah!!

“It’s interesting to do that and that’s pretty much why we do it.”

GB: Okay then, so how about an ideal band to cover Fleshgod, who would it be?

CT: “Oh I have no idea!!! That’s too difficult to say actually, I mean sometimes I see on the web, people covering our stuff and it’s really interesting to see.”

GB: So you keep an eye on that sort of stuff?

CT: “Yeah of course because to me, personally, when I have the time, I try to search a bit around to see what’s going on.

“I’m just as curious as everybody I guess, it’s good to see that people are interested and enjoys what you do and it’s always a bit overwhelming.”

GB: Every year since ’09, you guys have released an album, what can we all expect this year?

CT: “We have ideas, riffs and things here and there. Nothing really finished or concrete; we are touring too much right now to have the chance to write but we are planning to take our time during the year when we have some days off to take the ideas altogether and give birth to something.

“Then we are going to work harder and focus on that. I would say probably the end of the year or early next year.”

GB: Fleshgod seem to follow a specific structure that is evident across all your albums, although you have nothing written, do you think that is set to continue?

CT: “I think so, basically what we do, and what we’ve always done since the beginning, is given a specific meaning to the album from beginning to the end.

“With the concept, we do have the same every time pretty much; but with a view from different points and whatever.

“That’s the same thing we try to do with the music. What we have in mind is to try to keep it as it would have been as a sympohony.

“There’s different moments and different movements in the symphony and that’s pretty much the same for the album.

“There’s different moments and movements describing the same thing from different points of views.

“That’s pretty much what we do and I think that’s our way of doing that because, up until now, we haven’t experienced anything different so, I don’t know, who knows, maybe the next album will be completely different.

“We always try to follow the waves of what we like and what we enjoy and what we have fun with. Because otherwise we get bored and the music isn’t true so it’s important to refresh your minds everytime.”

GB: Fleshgod’s artwork doesn’t really fit into the stereotypical death metal “gory” style, was that intentional?

CT: “Not really, what we wanted to do was pretty much what we did for the first album as well.

“On the last album, Agony, we tried to give birth to an idea we have of the concept we are talking about.

“For Mafia, for example, in Italy we use this symbol of the octopus for talking about the mafia which is a monstrous animal with long arms, getting everywhere and it’s pretty much that’s the idea of the mafia and we wanted to put it on the cover to have a more deeper identity of that.

“So it isn’t intentional from that point of view but it’s natural from our point of view.”

(and goes with the music)

GB: Any final words?

CT: “As I always say to all the people I meet at the concerts and who I speak with on the web, keep having fun and enjoying the music you love and keep supporting the bands.

GB: Are you heavily involved in keeping in direct contact with the fans then?

CT: We always do that as far as we can, it’s something we like to do and it’s part of our duty, I would say. It’s not a heavy duty but I love to that. Sometimes when it’s too much or there’s too many people, I don’t know, if you have a bad day, you don’t want to speak with anyone.

GB: You have to keep your personal life in check with it?

CT: “Yeah! Exactly, you have to do that but we love to that!”

“We are alive because of you guys.”

Agony by Fleshgod Apocalypse is out now via Nuclear Blast

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One thought on “Symphonic vs death metal: the evolution of Fleshgod Apocalypse

  1. Pingback: Live Review: Black Dahlia Murder, Skeletonwitch and Fleshgod Apocalypse, Glasgow | CULTURE BOMB

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