HYPOCRISY / FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE / AENIMUS
Date: 05th April, 2019
Venue: The Bottom Lounge
When I tried to remember when was the last time I had seen HYPOCRISY onstage, I was shocked because it was on a different continent and 15 years ago... I have no idea how this happened because I consider myself as a Peter Tägtgren fan from his PAIN stuff all the way to his LINDEMANN project (by the way, this project is too cool to let it slip through your listening radar). So, it was a no-brainer getting my ass off the couch to get to The Bottom Lounge and get my HYPOCRISY fix that was way overdue.
Some minutes after the first band for the night, the venue looked like it was flirting with being sold-out with a long line forming in front of the merch table. I guess, HYPOCRISY did have a long time to cross the Atlantic, even though Peter Tägtgren had done that with PAIN some years ago. So, all the signs that it was going to be a steamy night were there, and I had no doubts about this because the combination of beer / Friday night / Metal show always produces results, if you know what I mean.
Some minutes after 8pm, the Californians of AENIMUS were ready to hit the stage with their Progressive Deathcore. You know that Progressive is on the menu when there are more strings on the bass, and in this case there were five strings on Seth Stone’s axe (note; he used a six-string one later on the set). Yeah, things were about to push the complicated-scale to the red, so I was wondering whether AENIMUS would get the crowd going. It did not take me much time to realize that despite the complexity of the songs, there was enough heaviness, and groovy aggression to get the blood boiling. “Chicago, make some fuckin’ noise” was the simple and most of effective way for singer Alex Green to ask for the audience’s attention. Alex has his own performing style and definitely possesses and quite diverse voice going back and forth from growling to clean singing. This was not an easy-to-follow song but surely had the right amount of aggression to start some Metal movement going. The singing was divided between Alex and Seth and these gentlemen were the most active onstage as far as moving around and taunting the audience. Guitarist Jordan Rush was dead-on focused on delivering all those complicating riffs manipulating the seven strings on his guitar like it was the easiest thing to do.
The complex song-structures need more time to settle in, especially if we are talking about one’s first encounter with them. However, AENIMUS proved to be a hard-working band and I think it was around “Masterpiece” when people looked more involved in the set. For “Before The Eons”, Alex’s request to use the cell phones to light up the stage saw lots of smart devices in the air, making me think how times have changed for having lighters creating such an effect on live shows...
“Masterpiece” along with the set-closer, “The Dark Triad”, were the tracks I got stuck and piqued my interest to look for more info for the Californians’ doings who released “Dreamcatcher” through Nuclear Blast earlier this year; check ‘em out.
01. “Between Iron And Silver”
02. “Day Zero”
03. “The Ritual”
05. “Before The Eons”
06. “The Dark Triad”
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I already knew that FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE deliver the goods from the stage and I was sure that this time the apple would not fall far from the tree. The main difference I realized in this instance is that the Italians have formed quite a following here in the States, being a solid proof that there is still a lot to gain when working on your album-release-tour cycle, especially in this side of the Atlantic. Of course, you need to put out good music, but the steady touring helps by keeping the already short-term memory of the nowadays scene refreshed. Veronica showed up first with the caduceus in hand, and after a short bow, assumed her position on stage left. It’s awesome to realize the impact of such stage props have on a live show, and in FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE’s case, the combination with the band’s attire was the icing on their Symphonic Death Metal cake. The fast “The Violation” set the mood right away with the US audience showing its headbanging / moshing intentions from the get-go. “Chicago, fuck yeah, we are FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE from beautiful Italy and it’s our pleasure to play for you tonight” said Francesco Paoli who has recently assumed the lead-singing duties and then let “Healing Through War” do the rest. Having the piano set with the keys parallel to the back of the stage meant that Francesco Ferrini had to play with his back turned to the audience and I am sure this was extremely awkward for him. To alleviate this, he was provoking the crowd as much as his playing allowed him but with so many orchestral / key parts, he could not do much. Unfortunately, with this stage setup, there is not much to do.
The Italian frontman followed Alex’s lead and asked from everyone to use their cell-phones as lighters to create the appropriate ambience for the mid-tempo “Cold As Perfection” that has a MORBID ANGEL’s feeling in the guitars. Once more, Francesco broke the speaking silence to introduce “Sugar” that will be on the tracklist of the upcoming FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE’s LP “Veleno”. The audience’s reaction and participation and singing-along on this one fully backed up my saying about the following these Italians have built here in the States. As you maybe guessing, there was a nice mosh-pit occupying the center of the venue and I don’t think it slowed down. On the contrary, the deeper we went in the set, the higher the intensity of the young on average audience. Having the same lever of energy on and off stage feels awesome regardless if one is a die-hard fan of the band or not. At some point, you are getting caught up on this energy surge and this helps a lot getting rid of the end of the working week’s sluggishness. The Baroque elements got on the limelight along with Veronica who left her spot at the back to calm things down with her powerful soprano singing. “Let me hear you scream for our beautiful princess Veronica and if you don’t, you are a fuckin’ fool”, said Francesco giving the perfect assist to the song “The Fool” (do you see what he did there?)
It was time for some wall-of-death action, and the double bass assault of “The Egoism” was the perfect occasion to do so. The audience kept its participation strong and did respond to this pounding piece leading the set to a powerful ending with “The Forsaking”. Unless my ears were playing funny games, I think this was dedicated to the band’s manager Maurizio (of the KATAKLYSM / EX DEO fame) who was standing at the side of the stage. Yes, seeing FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE taking their last bow of the night receiving a set of loud cheers from the audience was a solid proof that these Italians will be visiting the States soon.
FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE setlist:
01. “The Violation”
02. “Healing Through War”
03. “Cold As Perfection”
05. “Minotaur (The Wrath Of Poseidon)”
08. “The Fool”
09. “The Egoism”
10. “The Forsaking”
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The two bands before HYPOCRISY did extremely well to get the audience on a headbanging / moshing mood, and if you’d twist my arm, I would give FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE most of the credit. That’s right; some t-shirts were off and there was already beer mixed with sweat on the floor, so yeah, everything was ready for the Swedes.
After some adjustments and the addition of some banners stage right and left (I think the same drum-kit was used after some hi-hat changes), the stage was ready for HYPOCRISY. Fifteen minutes after 10pm, the lights were off and AC/DC’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train” started blasting off the PAs. It was awesome to feel the crowd’s expectation and exciting spiking as were soon to be bombarded with some good ol’ fashioned Swedish Death Metal. Sure, Peter has added some melody into HYPOCRISY but not in a manner that has removed the ferocity of this band. And especially live, you can feel the power and the aggression from the start. The taped-intro took us all the way back to the late ‘90s kicking off the set with “Fractured Millennium”. The band entered the stage with the fog machines set at maximum... Yeah, the fake smoke with the LED lights created a futuristic effect and a nightmare for those who were trying to take digital photos... Really, there was not much to be seen, but there was a lot to listen to with HYPOCRISY flooring the gas pedal like it was the middle of the set. Even though it had been a long time since my last HYPOCRISY show, I could not spot any significant differences with the band looking and sounding as solid as ever. With horns in the air, “Valley Of The Damned” hit us without pausing and I am sure the pressure was building up in the front rows. Oh my, the crowd took the energy coming from the stage and increased it tenfold forming a nice mosh-pit right away. The groovy part of this one was perfect for some nice headbanging and an opportunity to catch your breath but not for long...
“Chicago, how are you people doing tonight?”, Peter rhetorically asked because it was obvious everyone inside The Bottom Lounge was already having Metal fun. “Are you ready to maybe lose some pounds?”, he added because talking was definitely not on the menu with HYPOCRISY onstage. “End Of Disclosure” was not the fastest of the setlist but it did have that melodic backbone that is so familiar coming from Swedish bands of this type of Death Metal. In case you don’t know, there is some good substance in the lyrics, even though dealing with aliens and conspiracies may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if Peter sings or (better) growls about something, you better be listening. The double guitars stood proudly on the spotlight for the amazing “Adjusting The Sun” and then gave the sweetest assist to “Eraser”. Before putting a higher gear (if there was any), Peter spilt the beans that the band is working on a new album with October / November as the target release date. I hope this also means that HYPOCRISY will be crossing the Atlantic once this happens. Until then, it was an absolutely delight hearing people screaming along “There is no time” (I still thinks it sounds like “There is no god”). Even though the frontman did not waste too much of his breath talking, he added bits and pieces of short intros and for the first two albums treat he said: “Do you feel like an athlete? Are you ready or not?” before following this with the massive growl for “Pleasure Of Molestation”. The crowd indeed showed some athletic virtues diving deep into the mosh-pit that seemed like it was growing in size and in intensity. Having this one followed by “Osculum Obscenum” and “Penetralia” was definitely one the highlights of the night. Yeah, Peter’s grunts in combination with the Swedish Death Metal low-tuned rhythm guitars demand some serious headbanging.
The band and the crowd were in a killer roll and there were no signs of stopping. Sure, the tad slower “Fire In The Sky” helped everyone catch a breather, even though the melodies on this one along with the dramatic tone are not what one would call “relaxing time”. The latter soon ended rather abruptly with the snare-drum action of “Killing Art” and with the merciless pounding of “Buried”. Even though I did not like the amount of smoke effects, I think it did help create an old-school atmosphere where the line separating the band from the crowd fades away and the only thing you can see is bodies moving around and occasionally floating on the top (a.k.a. crowd surfing). It is strange to call heavy songs like “The Final Chapter” as breathers, but if you consider that “Buried” was followed almost back-to-back with “War-Path”, then I am sure you will agree with me. Seeing the band leaving the stage just for a while before “The Final Chapter” meant that we were getting closer to the end. That’s right; HYPOCRISY went backstage only to let the taped intro “The Gathering” hint the obvious encore. Aliens are usual suspects in Peter’s lyrics and of course “Roswell 74” sits on top. The excitement during the taped part knowing what was next was the best and most powerful way to drop the curtain for this massive return of HYPOCRISY in the States. Do I want a reprise? Absolutely, and hopefully, this will happen this year having a brand new album under their belt.
“They came to visit us in secret, I judged it really happened
They lost control and crashed in Roswell 1947”
01. “Fractured Millennium”
02. “Valley Of The Damned”
03. “End Of Disclosure”
04. “Adjusting The Sun”
06. “Pleasure Of Molestation” / “Osculum Obscenum” / “Penetralia”
07. “Fire In The Sky”
08. “Killing Art”
11. “The Final Chapter”
12. “The Gathering” (taped)
13. “Roswell 47”
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