In better news I've been listening to a boatload of new music. Some of it awful, some of it fantastic. Since I've been feeling pretty down lately I'll start with one that you really don't want to listen to: The sequel to 2011's Agony: Fleshgod Apocalypse's Labyrinth.
Let me clarify: it is stupid to expect anything akin to Oracles from these guys at this point. I certainly wasn't, and part of me only listened to this album to see what overblown monstrosity these Italians would churn out next. Agony was one of my most reviled releases of 2011 for its disgusting use of an orchestra and bombastic, plastic sounding instruments. That's not to mention the awful, incoherent mash-up that sounded, as one internet-dwelling metalnerd stated, like a "Disney soundtrack thrown into a blender." The emphasis of Agony was solely on the 'orchestral' elements and the guitarwork took a backseat to everything.
I don't even think there was a bass.
Anyway Fleshgod apparently noticed some fans' reactions to the lack of intricate guitarwork and claimed that with Labyrinth they would merge more technical guitars with the 'orchestral' elements of Agony. I have to give them credit there. They did make good on their promise. There are a bunch of solos ("Minotaur," Pathfinder," "The Fall Of Asterion," etc.) and significantly more riffage compared to Agony's monotonous chugging.
Songwriting remains an enormous issue on Labyrinth, and the orchestral elements are still left on their own more often than not. There is no real merging of metal and a symphony here, just two completely separate entities playing at the same time. It's like playing Bach in one ear and Suffocation in the other and calling it symphonic death metal. The female supporting vocals are atrocious when they're not negligible. Opener "Kingborn" is unbearable for this reason and "Towards The Sun" is an absolute abomination of a track even with them being used sparingly. We will not even speak of "Under Black Sails." Seven-and-a-half minutes of nauseating ear-pain...
The mix is just as depressing as it was on Agony. Everything is muddled and compressed and it makes listening to the album a more frustrating experience than it's worth. The most straightforward and metal track on the album, "Pathfinder" (and by far the best), sounds like it would've fit at home on Mercenary's B-sides, or maybe as an extreme extension of what Fleshgod Apocalypse tried to do on Mafia. The absolutely shitty production is largely to blame for that.
Now I wasn't expecting much from Labyrinth and I can't even say I'm disappointed. What I still don't really understand is how Fleshgod Apocalypse still have fans after they went to Nuclear Blast. Even the album art screams "recycled lukewarm bullshit." However they clearly have gained quite a following as you can glean from all the internet buzz surrounding them, so good for them. Maybe someday if Fleshgod Apocalypse continue down this path they'll be able to fill the shoes Septicflesh filled nearly a decade ago.
2.5 out of 10
4. Towards The Sun
7. The Fall of Asterion
10. Under Black Sails
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