[REVIEW]: Fleshgod Apocalypse + Freedom of Fear + Alchemy |Crowbar - Sydney 3.11.19
REVIEW + PICTURES : Lewis Morley
Coming to Crowbar for the first time was a daunting experience - my first time photographing a venue is always nerve-wracking, but add to that my first time reviewing a concert and you’ve got me more than a little anxious. Lucky for me, then, than the night’s opener, Freedom of Fear, set the stage perfectly. Before the Adelaide quintet had even begun to tetris themselves onto what was left of the stage (Fleshgod have quite a setup) I’d already been told that they blew the house staff away at soundcheck.
Technical prowess, fantastic range and good pacing made for a strong musical set with a brilliant mix of power and finesse. All of this underpinned the belted growls and screams of vocalist Jade, whose physical performance was its own level of intensity (best experienced front row as she clambers over speakers and railings to scream in your face).
Then came the sludgy, black pit of musical tar that was Alchemy. Dark, oppressive, driven and absolutely devolved. Minuscule guitar squeals peaked between chaotic blast-beats while gritty, chesty growls abused me in a language I couldn’t understand. It was raw. It was beautiful.
A lengthy interlude followed, red curtains drawn over the stage and an ever-swelling orchestral score hinted at the culmination of the night in an appropriately theatrical manner. The score peaked, curtains withdrew, and before us, crowned in blackened spines, stood a Queen of Darkness.
In seconds she was joined by the perfectly preserved corpses of Fleshgod Apocalypse, in impeccably designed costuming. The scene was set for a night of feudal melodic metal, and the chaos began. The lush cinematic opening quickly gave way to the raw power of the majority of their set. It is one of the great skills of Fleshgod as songwriters that they play so deftly with tension. As an orchestral moment reaches its peak, it is matched with brutality, and as the bomb-blast wall of sound becomes overwhelming, the storm breaks to give space to the piano and orchestral moments which are their signature.
The instrumental interplay was as intricate onstage as when it was penned, with drums and piano bringing emphasis where it is needed, deftly switching between frontline and orchestral timings. Similarly, the growled stabs and melodies of Paoli play so well off the unearthly wailing of Rossi (as perhaps best evidenced in Absinthe). The violence Paoli is capable of in his stabs is truly best at play in moments like Sugar, where each beat (“PUSH PUSH PUSH”) is punctuated by a chorus from the crowd and a hammer of fists in the air. Paoli plays deftly with an audience, teasing an intro over an over, riling up the crowd until all were screaming, before giving us the sweet release of another song.
Ferrini’s frantic piano arrangements were, criminally, relegated to the back corner of the stage, leaving precious little space for a true master of musical arrangement. His contribution was, mercifully, as capable and forward as ever, both through his onstage play and the frenetic energy of his invisible orchestra.
Unfortunately, all things must end. Fortunately, Syphilis is a damn good song to end a set on. No song in their repertoire, I think, quite evinces Fleshgod’s capabilities quite like it. A return to the fuller orchestral arrangements of King (as opposed to the more pared back strings in their latest Veleno) was underscored by the creepy music-box of Ferrini. Balanced, technical guitars return to a plodding drone, before giving way to a subtly guided dissonance, all of which resonates under the flawlessly operatic vocals of our Queen for the night. As quickly and majestically as it began, it was over. My first thought is how much I want to listen to Veleno again.