Fleshgod Apocalypse Canberra 2019 (Canberra, ACT)

4 November 2019 at The Basement

The evening of Monday November 4th was warm and hummed with anticipation and excitement in the northern Canberra suburb of Belconnen. The primary reason for such a mood was a show at Canberra’s finest music venue ‘The Basement’. The Basement is a reasonably small venue that could easily get away with calling itself a fine pub. Upon entering the venue one sees the stage to the left, the extensive bar straight ahead and an array of pool tables to the right. Out of eyeshot there is a beer garden too. Perhaps most refreshing was seeing that the only television in the entire venue was tuned to the centre of the stage – everyone was at the Basement for one purpose.

The purpose was the night’s entertainment featuring Italian orchestral death metal heavy weights Fleshgod Apocalypse. Yet, the term ‘heavy weights’ does this band no justice. There are no other band, that I have come across, quite like Fleshgod. Led by vocalist/guitarist and former Hour of Penance front man Francesco Paoli, the band offers a unique fusion of death metal, classical and operatic music forms which are unrivalled.

Fleshgod Apocalypse toured Australia in late October and early November promoting their most recent full-length release titled Veleno (Venom in Italian). Veleno is the most diverse of all five of Fleshgod’s albums. In the beginning there was Oracles in 2009, Agony in 2011, Labyrinth in 2013, King in 2016 and Veleno in 2019. All albums offer something unique, though are immediately recognisable as manifestations of a constantly evolving band. One thing is, however, crystal clear, Fleshgod Apocalypse’s sound and style is maturing with age. It is also getting heavier and more technical.

Nonetheless, having traversed much of Australia, Canberra would be the last leg of the tour. Doors opened at 7:00pm and almost immediately Adelaide based Freedom of Fear hit the stage running. Playing tracks off their recent debut full length titled Nocturnal Gates (which I coincidentally picked up later that night). Freedom of Fear brought a growing crowd to life. This band are not afraid to play good old fashioned death metal while incorporating ambient and jazzy elements. Keep an eye on these guys, they will be touring near you soon and are worth your time.

Following, Black Mountain took to the stage. Embodying the true spirit of Black Metal, Black Mountain kept the black flame burning and did so playing to their home crowd in Canberra. Next up were fellow Canberra locals Unholy Vendetta. Spinning their hometown into a frenzy Unholy Vendetta played four brilliant songs. After the third track, it was to the crowd’s audible disappointment that the band announced that they were only playing one more song. Yet to the wonderment of the 200 strong Canberra crowd, there was no reason for disappointment, given the final song was an incredible 20 minutes. This final track progressively built and appropriately prepared the crowd for the inevitable Apocalypse.

Fleshgod Apocalypse graced the stage at 9:50pm. Entering a stage of hellish darkness tinged with a faint red, the band broke out into The Violation from their 2011 album Agony. Perhaps one of the bands most well-known songs, The Violation set the tone for the entire set. Next, they played Healing Through War from their 2016 album King. A central feature of this song is the pre-recorded speech out of Julius Caesars War Commentaries, indeed, embodying the spirit of the Minister of War. Fleshgod Apocalypse here struck a chord with the local Canberra crowd.

A change of pace was necessary. Fleshgod proceeded to play two songs off their most recent album. The instrumental track The Praying Mantis Strategy which leads directly into the beautifully balanced Monalisa. Boasting a catchy riff and the first appearance from operatic maestro Veronica Bordacchini, before closing in classic Fleshgod fashion with a fast and furious melodic riff. Bringing pace back into the show, Fleshgod maintained the pace with another track off Veleno, Worship and Forget.

Next Fleshgod played two tracks from their 2013 release Labyrinth. Prologue followed by Epilogue were played, replicating their perfect order on the album. Incorporating the classical guitar and the cello with the extreme pace of death metal is something only Fleshgod Apocalypse can do. Next, the band played the first song off Veleno Fury, followed by Cold as Perfection (King) and Sugar (Veleno).

Fleshgod then played their final song from Veleno, The Day We’ll Be Gone. Perhaps the highlight of the evening, Veronica Bordacchini (who it was later revealed had been quite unwell all day) put on a show that Canberra will remember for years to come. Singing together with Paoli, the sheer intoxicating nature of the duet brought the (mostly) sober audience to its knees. Fleshgod closed out the evening with three well known songs The Fool (King), The Egoism and The Forsaking (both Agony).

The evening came to an end after the epic final track. The crowd, however, needed more. The chant of ‘one more song’ was abandoned quickly for ‘Fleshgod, Fleshgod, Fleshgod’. The crowd cheered and screamed for over two minutes before front man Paoli took to the stage once more, admittedly voicing his surprise at the sheer sound of the 220 strong Canberra crowd. I think even he was surprised that the band had received such an applause.

At this moment, Francesco Ferrini madly hurried back to his piano. While, bassist Paolo Rossi and lead guitarist Fabio Bartoletti both remerged to the cheers of the crowd, laughing at the hurriedness and unpreparedness now upon the band. Drummer David Folchitto improvised to the amazement and wonder of the crowd, before the band, like clockwork, ticked into one of their heaviest tracks Gravity (King) to conclude the evening with an encore performance.

Fleshgod Apocalypse put on a show that everyone present will remember. Though a small crowd, no one can fault the performance of any of the bands, especially given they were playing in Australia’s smallest capital city on a Monday night on the final leg of a national tour. The name Fleshgod Apocalypse has entered into the history of The Basement and its legacy will long here remain.

Line-up: Fleshgod Apocalypse, Unholy Vendetta, Black Mountain, Freedom of Fear

Reviewer: Sam Lehmann