A cool evening in downtown Joliet was the backdrop for this European metal barrage. The cool air was welcomed after a rather hard week. A line of metal heads lined itself down the street and wrapped around the corner. The panhandlers sat on stoops with flutes. No harassment, just a bucket, and music filling the air. The overall mood in line was anxious with hints of delight. A slate of artists that do not regularly tour the US made its way to the Chicago suburbs. The Forge is built for metal shows. The lighting softly illuminates the room. Once you enter the main floor the merchandise booths are straight ahead, and off to the left runs a full bar lit up with blue halogen lighting. Turning right into the room, it opens up and despite the two random structural supports in the middle, the area is fairly large. The stage sits about 5 feet off the ground and is painted entirely black.
The stage setup is incredibly simple and spread out across the entire stage. Despite all of that, the props that are set up are decorative. The mic stands are made of wood. The appearance looks like something out of a mid-evil vampire film. The piano looked rustic with a dusty look to it. Not only that 3 candles sat on top of it projecting an aura over it. Lining the front of the stage stood small boxes with FA painted into the wood. The boxes stood there for the performers to lean on. At the back of the stage, a riser ran the entire width of the performance area. The drum kit sat in the center of the riser. The stage consistently had a smokey haze drifting over it. The ambiance was perfectly set up for this explosion of symphonic death metal.
The Italian metallers delivered on their unique brand of ear pleasure. The dreadful feeling looming over the stage and floor, Fleshgod Apocalypse appeared one by one when their specific parts to the opener Fury fired up the room. An instant shift in the barricade upfront occurred and a small pit opened up. Bodies moved violently and thrashed their way around the front of the floor space. Having been away from the States for 3 years, Fleshgod Apocalypse unleashed everything one could imagine. The macabre artistry established the mood with extreme accuracy. The band was anchored by two very different vocalists. Francesco Paoli is of the death metal variety and Veronica Bordacchini is the operatic style. Both alternated their powerful vocals. They were fully engaged with the audience in front of them. Often pointing and waving toward them. Paoli also carried rhythm guitar duties next to Fabio Bartoletti on lead. Bartoletti wasn’t one to move around, but his complex riffs made that ability a tough item to accomplish. He expertly ripped through the strings with perfection. It was a sight to behold. Bassist Paulo Rossi was a violent hair-swinging madman. His ground-shaking bass licks were quick and bone-shaking. They were only matched by the double-kick bass slams of drummer Eugene Ryabchenko. Ryabchenko slayed his massive drum kit. The precision of his play drove the entire band’s tempo. Finally, came hypeman and piano maniac Francesco Ferrini. His presence was felt throughout the entire performance. His play added layer upon layer. When he was smashing his piano tucked along the side stage he was all over the stage whipping the crowd into additional frenzy.
Overall, it was an impressive display of art blending with metal. The dark, smokey ambiance that filled the air set the mood effectively. Once the evening ended many left in amazement. The others like myself stood in the merch line waiting to pick up a shirt or album. The Italian metalers came and conquered Joliet. Their brand of music was a unique take upon the standard death metal coming from Europe. There was no doubt they have mastered their craft. With a handful of releases to their name, one thing is clear, they are masters of their specific craft. Needless to say, Fleshgod Apocalypse is a must-see performance.
2. Healing Through War
6. The Praying Mantis Strategy
8. The Violation
9. The Fool
11. The Forsaking