Fleshgod Apocalypse + Carach Angren + Nightland
@ The Underworld Camden, London
January 19, 2017
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
An eager crowd of metalheads occupied The Underworld in Camden last Thursday for a night of symphonic and theatrical metal madness, when titans of the genre Fleshgod Apocalypse brought along Dutch horror metallers Carach Angren and fellow countrymen Nightland. Judging by the length of the queue, paired with the overall atmosphere prior to the opening of the doors, it was to be a memorable night in the capital.
Metal-Rules also had the chance to speak with Tommaso Riccardo of Fleshgod Apocalypse before the show, and the interview can be found HERE.
The ground floor of the cosy Underworld isn’t even half full as the Italian four piece Nightland take to the stage. An unfortunate trend it seems, with opening bands beginning their set almost immediately following door times, causing parts of their set to be missed by quite a few people. Playing a blend of symphonic and melodic death metal, Nightland fit right in among their more prominent touring mates.
Their short and sweet set showcases good technical skills, and a solid dose of theatrical showmanship. It’s a shame that the band chose to completely ignore material from their two EPs, rather playing only material from their full-length album Obsession (+ one new song). It’s by no means a bad album, but the more upbeat and power metal-influenced style that dominated Knights of the Dark Empire and In Solemn Rise would have been a welcomed addition to their set.
Guitars sound a little low at times, but the mixing is otherwise good. Most of the crowd does not seem to care much for the music initially, but luckily as their set progresses, an increasing crowd also brings more energy. “It’s good to be here in London again,” frontman Ludovico Cioffi exclaims before announcing the title track from their album. A tiny moshpit eventually emerges, and although the crowd’s involvement consists mostly of just heads nodding along, there’s no denying their set being enjoyable.
A new song gets dedicated to “all of you [crowd] and our friends in Fleshgod Apocalypse and Carach Angren”. This song, along with “Last Dance of a Treacherous Mind” sparks probably the best crowd reactions of their set.
1. Dreamless life
5. Alpha Et Omega
6. (new song)
7. Last Dance of a Treacherous Mind
Ominous and sinister background music fills the PA as the stage is gradually transformed into Dutch black metallers Carach Angren’s theatre of horror. At 20:15, the eerie sounds of “Once Upon a Time” from 2015’s This Is No Fairytale commences, as the terrifying three piece along with session guitarist Jack Owen take to the stage to massive cheers from the crowd. Kicking into “There’s No Place Like Home”, we are immediately engulfed in arguably the most intense set of the night.
“This is Carach Angren!” frontman Seregor exclaims following “Lingering In An Imprint Haunting”, before announcing a fan favourite from their second album, “Departure Towards a Nautical Curse”. Seregor’s theatrical presence involving moves synchronised to the music, along with keyboardist Ardek’s rotating keyboard makes the show highly enjoyable to watch. Drummer Namtar remains neutral in the background as usual, but his spot on drumming is impressive to behold nonetheless.
We are given setlist classics such as “Spectral Infantry Battalion” and “Bitte Tötet Mich” alongside the lesser played “Sir John” and “Departure Towards a Nautical Curse”. It’s nothing short of impressive how incredibly well their technical and highly orchestrated music translates live.
The massive crowd response and the energy witnessed throughout their set only serves to prove that Carach Angren were without doubt the main reason a lot of people came out that night. At one point (during the slowed down part in “When Crows Tick on Windows”), even a ‘dancepit’ breaks out. The intensity of their set can be summed up by Seregor’s face paint gradually disappearing, and the persistent moshpit during the show.
“We fucking love you, England! Are you ready for some fucking aggression?” Seregor asks following “Sir John”. The colossal response prompts him to exclaim: “Alright, let’s have a wall of death!”, before the classic “The Carriage Wheel Murder” is announced. I’m impressed no one (to my knowledge) got injured in the madness ensuing on the ground floor of the tiny venue, as the two sides clash into each other.
The band has the crowd enthusiastically screaming along to memorable lines such as “Assault! Assault! Domestic violence!” (“There’s No Place Like Home”) and “This… is the sound of death!” (“Spectral Infantry Battalion”). “So tell me… Did you like the meat?” at the end of “Killed and Served by the Devil” deserves a mention as well. “Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log” finishes what was personally the definite highlight of the evening.
Once Upon a Time (tape)
1. There’s No Place Like Home
2. Lingering In An Imprint Haunting
3. Departure Towards a Nautical Curse
4. When Crows Tick on Windows
5. Spectral Infantry Battalion
6. Bitte Tötet Mich
7. Sir John
8. The Carriage Wheel Murder
9. Killed and Served by the Devil
10. Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log
The sinister background music we are served in between Nightland and Carach Angren’s sets is replaced with soothing harmonies and upbeat symphonies from well-respected 18th century composers, as the now packed venue hosts a crowd ready to welcome the night’s spectacular headliners. Italian Fleshgod Apocalypse, only recently embarking on their very first headlining tour of Europe, received an overwhelming wave of positive reactions following the release of their fourth full-length album King last year. Here to promote that very album, the symphonic death metal pioneers offer us a great mix of fan favourites from their growing discography alongside newer, soon-to-be classics from King.
The reception is nothing short of fantastic as soprano Veronica Bordacchini enters the stage, stomping her staff along to the rhythm of “Marche Royale”. The rest of the band soon joins her, all dressed in their distinctive Baroque outfits, and kicks off the madness with “In Aeterum”. There is unmistakably quite a large portion of the crowd singing along to the song’s chorus, a phenomenon repeated time after time throughout their set.
The sounds mixing is pleasantly balanced, a crucial factor when a band this technical and orchestrated plays a tiny venue like this. Frontman Tommaso Riccardo voices his concern on society’s pressure for everyone to appear perfect, before announcing “Cold As Perfection” from King. This slower, yet hard hitting song gives a nice change of pace in a set otherwise dominated by an insanely high tempo.
Riccardi ominously beholds the crowd while quoting the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the signal for the band’s arguably most well-known song, “The Violation”. Their performance can be summed up in the words ‘impeccable perfection’, and this song is a true embodiment of just that. Bassist Paolo Rossi receives lots of help from the crowd during his high pitched singing parts, and soprano Bordacchini also does a fantastic job adding life and emotion to their show. Her parts during “Epilogue” and “The Egoism” are particularly enjoyable. For those not already impressed by drummer Francesco Paoli ability to sustain the incredible speed of their songs, “The Violation” surely changed that.
The band experiences some minor technical difficulties following “Gravity”, but is soon enough ready to introduce us to “a friend of [theirs]”. “The Fool” from King manages to sound upbeat yet aggressive, and is definitely one of the evening’s many highlights. The floor splits in half for the night’s second wall of death before “The Egoism”, and “Syphilis” ends the regular set, leaving us with the anticipation of what’s to come next.
The band hurriedly leaves the stage, as the crowd chants for more. Soon enough, frontman Riccardi returns to massive cheers and presents us with three options. Number one (“we go home”) is naturally negatively received in comparison to option two (“we play more”), but it is the unexpected third option that seemingly pleases the crowd the most, especially those who haven’t snooped around on setlist.fm beforehand.
“Now we go back in time!” Riccardi exclaims, before announcing the very first song off their first album Oracles (2009), “In Honour of Reason”. From their more technical death metal driven years, before the band fully embraced their symphonic element, the song is a pleasant addition and sounds great live – just as tight as on record. “Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon)” from 2011’s Labyrinth sees a sea of heads in the crowd collectively moving back and forth, before the more emotive and compassionate “The Forsaking” ends their set with a bang as confetti engulfs the stage.
With the massive success of King, and also from witnessing first-hand the intensity and energy of their live shows, I’m left doubtless that Fleshgod Apocalypse have only just started their ascension to fame. Bassist Rossi takes a sip of a bottle of red wine before handing it out to the crowd, like the true Italian he is.
1. Marche Royale
2. In Aeterum
3. Healing Through War
5. Cold As Perfection
6. The Violation
9. The Fool
10. The Egoism
12. In Honour of Reason
13. Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon)
14. The Forsaking