I had quite the busy last two weeks, but that’s not going to stop Metal Monday from happening. This time of year is my favorite; many metal albums come out between the months of August and November. This is because they do their recording in the winter, when touring is less common, finish in spring (when many albums leak illegally on the internet) then the album comes out right about now, while they are on big summer tours. This week we will take a look at the new Fleshgod Apocalypse release Labyrinth.
I always chuckle to myself when metal bands use mythological metaphors or over-exaggerated gore to get their point across in lyrics. To me it often seems like a guise to seem to be talking about something greater than what they are still actually talking about; the evil ex-girlfriend. If I had to take a guess, a wild estimate, I would say 80% of all metal, actually 80% of all music today is about the evil ex-girlfriend or boyfriend. How I have been wronged by society! My love has left me for reasons I don’t understand so I must share my now negative outlook on life with the world!
Everyone loves a good breakup song, me being included. For a song to really have a lasting impression on me, it has to be about something that makes me think or learn a new idea about the world. Maybe life is all just a big Labyrinth that we are trapped in, because we just wander around the whole time instead of peaking over the edges to see what is really out there. Maybe we can use the themes of an existing story that most of our culture is familiar with, to help the audience understand this concept.
FA is known for their epic symphonic synthesizing mixed in with their relentlessly fast and pounding style of metal. It almost seems juxtaposed at first, like some sort of gimmick they put on to stand out from the rest of the melodic death metal bands. That it may be, but the symphonic arrangements cause the cadence structure to be much easier to notice to the non-metal head. There is a lot of good V-I resolution and lateral movement of the structure of the song, as opposed to repeating the same 4 chords the whole time. It feels like the song is going somewhere. On top of that they have a great sense of album order. The first song “Kingborn” starts off with a good mysterious building song that doesn’t give away the entire album, and then the second song is one of the better tracks on the whole album, just like it should be based on my Album Structure review(first link). There are some surprises with the guest vocals of Agnete Kjølsrud in “Towards the Sun” and “Warpledge,” but she fits very well with the sound the FA wants. This album in general seems to be more vocal/lyric centered than usual, although they are never lacking in instrumental technicality.
If you want something slow and peaceful you will have to look elsewhere. FA does blast beats and fret shredding as good as anyone, but this is a heavy metal album and there is a deficit of diversity of song types. There is lots of diversity in structure and note use, but every single song is going to pound your face into the ground with high-tempo blast beats and wailing guitar solos.
As if mandatory to every conceptual album release, the 2 songs titled “Epilogue” and “Prologue” are my biggest complaint, only because they are just that, mandatory. It seems every album that tries to tell overarching story seems to have songs with this title, often instrumental and completely filler. It makes even less sense here, where they aren’t the shell of a legitimate song, they pose as a sort of distraction from the rest of the songs taking you out of the albums zone. Some people might like the break since the album is very exhausting to listen to, but I think they could have been left out and were created only to put more tracks and run time on the album to keep the record company happy, especially since this is such a recurrence.
Labyrinth is some good metal. Expect to hear more next week on…