Fleshgod Apocalypse takes the throne with their new album King: a crowning achievement, striking a regal balance between brutality and majestic elegance. If you want to know more about Fleshgod Apocalypse’s currently reigning album King, Beethoven, and hear a round of ‘what would Bach say?’- read on!
In typical English style, I opened the interview with Tommaso Riccardi and Cristiano Trionfera by talking about tea and how crap American tea is in comparison to English tea – bah, “English” breakfast tea my arse! So King, lovely king. All your albums have a concept or some kind of common thread, so tell me about this lovely gem.
Tommaso: Yeah that’s right, we like concepts…We like to have a concept in everything we do: from the shows to the videos, everything is like a story. It is very important for us to have something that is connected to the visual and not just the hearing part of the music, but the whole story that is behind it. In the case of King, we like to try build up a story that could be seen on two different levels: on one level it is actually the story of the king and all the characters of his court, and every single song on the album actually goes through the different characters of this court. But, on the other hand, the king is someone who actually represents what we like to call ‘the old world’ – for this you could use many different definitions. The meaning of all the real and concrete and very simple things that actually are important in life, at that in this particular moment, and I guess that was the inspiration we got for it… It seems that for people, it’s easy to forget about those things. We get easily addicted to a lot of ‘useless’ things and superficial things. So the King is actually the positive character representing those old things, while all the other characters represent different ways in which every one of us, or different people living in society, is forgetting about those things.
That’s pretty deep
Cristiano: Plus, I don’t think we’re able to throw a bunch of songs together without it being a concept – just to finish that!
Tommaso: That’s really important. When we start, pre-production or composing music and songs, I think the fact that we have the whole idea of what we’re doing and that we’re going through different moments of a story… it is really important for inspiration for the music that we put together. Like if it was an opera and it is divided in different moments, not just songs put there in an album. I guess that’s also a very good thing because it brings the music to a more visual level: even if you’re not actually watching a video, you can hear that there is a lot of atmospheres where you’re going through, like it was a story as it is. I think it really gives a lot of variety to the music: you can feel that there is something more behind it.
Still sticking with your classical musical influence?
Tommaso: Of course! A really good thing about this album is that it represents a sort of contemporary starting point, because there are many new things in this album…but in the meantime, also an arrival point. We have been building our ideas throughout the years and the albums.In this album, we really were able to put many things together that we were looking for, for a long time. So starting from, of course the artwork, the production itself that has been finally a good one and that makes the difference really. Also on a compositional level, it’s been a continual search for a good balance between all the elements that we have in our music and we really feel that this balance is there, thanks also to the production but also to the way we worked on the arrangements. I think that the music has really given the right value to all the elements. We’re really excited by this album.
You guys are really big on contrast, right? How do you create them? Tell me about the process.
Cristiano: I guess it’s the basics for us: it’s probably the most natural thing we can think of. Like the music we play and the way we think about music are in contrast in a way because…We like it to be specifically telling something, so having more layers and writing music that can create somehow an image in your head and obviously that is up to you, but we have an idea of it and we all share the story and image of it and that makes it for us different, I think. But it’s also the only way Fleshgod Apocalypse can come up with sound.
Tommaso: I think it’s also the fact that opposites always have some point in common, so I think that’s why this kind of thing works, at least for us. If you think about the more classical symphonic part of our music and you can see it as the sort of romantic aspect of our music, and on the other hand the also extreme brutality of that metal music but then you can see that the two things combined… in a way, it gets more brutal and more romantic at the same time. It’s like, if you think about it in classical music as well, there is a lot of brutality. So it is bringing it to the next level and building ourselves and adding things to the music and so the contrast is not necessarily a contrast.
Mozart was a pretty brutal guy!
This is where my music boff mode activated! I went into total music nerd mode talking about big composers at this point. Stay tuned for Bach banter: musical shenanigans and Bach impersonations in German accents.
Cristiano: Beethoven is my personal favourite. I think he is one of the most influential in general for anything, so there’s not much to say about that – well, there would be a lot to say, but not now.If you listen to some composers that work today for cinema, for example, you hear a lot of Beethoven or you hear a lot of other great composers – it is just the evolution of symphonic music. It is how we use music. It’s the most convenient way of using symphonic music nowadays, probably. There’s no symphonic music radio anymore – well there are obviously, but it’s not the main music you listen to. We actually are fans of composers that work today as well and we think that it’s very, very important to use that mentality in symphonic music to create, again, telling a story basically. It helps massively to create a specific argument musically, so we have influences there.
So like Beethoven and programmatic music, your music is also programmatic. For those who don’t know what that means, it basically is music that follows a narrative or ‘tells a story’.I just hope none of you go deaf.
Cristiano: Well, I hope not, even though I’m probably on the way.
Are you fans of the composer Bach?
Cristiano: Yeah we are.
All he did was complain. Genius – but don’t read up on him!
Cristiano: Well yeah, he changed music history! He was smart enough to change one note in a scale and call it Bach – that’s quite clever.
Tommaso: The very first metalhead in history!
Get ready for Bach Banter! What did you think Bach would say if he heard you guys?
Cristiano: That’s the thing, I think he would listen to us.
Tommaso: I think he would probably hate us because we are breaking all the rules that he set.
Cristiano: We’re more Mahler style.
Tommaso: For him it would be, “this is horrible!”
Cristiano: What’s this noise?!
Then he’d complain and call you a nanny-goat! (Bach once compared an bassoonist to a nanny-goat.)
Tommaso: Then sometimes he would be like “that’s my progression!”
Cristiano: Actually, with a German accent.
Tommaso : “You stole it!”
Cristiano: *In a German accent* “Yeah it’s pretty good…because it’s my progression!”
Tommaso: “You thief, you thief!”
Cristiano: *In a German accent* “my precious scales!”
Tommaso: If you listen to Paganini, or whoever came after. If you had to do what he did in that moment, he actually was one of the creators of classical music as we know it. You have to be a very strict person, so I guess rules were pretty important.
Because if you didn’t obey the rules, you’d be out of a job!
Tommaso: Of course, that’s what I mean. My housemates are all classical musicians… they have to compose something that is called Bach chorales, I’ve seen one of my friends writing that stuff…
Cristiano: Trying to commit suicide?
Tommaso: No no! He was listening to Linkin Park and I was like, ‘are you composing stuff while listening something else?” He was like “of course, this is Bach”. If you follow the rules and you can do random stuff with those rules without knowing what he was writing, it would come out as something as exactly as Bach would write…But it is incredible if you think about it, because it really shows you that music is something in-between maths and feelings…
Cristiano: It’s evolution, I don’t even want to know what’s going to happen in one hundred years. Are we going to use dogs instead of people? I don’t know!
Tommaso: We’ve already had that!
Someone wrote a composition for a candle…
Cristiano: Ah that’s really sweet, I hope it was a perfume candle.
Hopefully vanilla scented, otherwise what’s the point? Well, we’ve already had silence with John Case and 4’33” of silence.
Cristiano: I see where we’re heading now.
So, you’re next set stand there in silence.
Cristiano: Oh that would be very nice actually. Actually, once we played with a band in Belfast, they had one song – I can’t remember the name of the band – they only had a head-banging track, so you headbang for two seconds and that was it. It was pretty good because they also presented menus with the name of the songs. You had a menu, it was pub-like, so you had seats and stuff and you had these menus but it was the band’s menu – it was actually quite a good idea.
Don’t be a fool, listen to King! Catch Fleshgod Apocalypse as they hit Europe in the next few months. With the Majesty of their new album King, there is no need to worry about a receding heir line (whey!).
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