Heavy Metal is an extreme art form, and within that lies endless combinations of technical delineation. The best of the best does not always follow the normal routine, and usually make their creative mark in a non-linear adventurous fashion. Sweden’s Hypocrisy has been Death Metal champions since the early ’90s and are now back on US soil for the Death… Is Just The Beginning co-headlining tour with Italian Symphonic Death Metal band Fleshgod Apocalypse, featuring support from Bay Area Progressive, Extreme Metal act Aenimus. A carry over from Hypocrisy’s European tour that took place in the fall of last year, on Friday, March 15th, the fun kicked off in downtown Los Angeles, California at The Regent Theater.
The opening night of a tour that runs through April 15th, The Regent Theater was abuzz as local acts Deformity and Athenasia took the stage first. Performing their new album, The Order of the Silver Compass, in its entirety for its special release, Athenasia helped set the evening off right as Deformity caught the attention of many as the first act of the night.
Now primed, the room was pumped up, packed out, and ready to mosh by the time Aenimus came on around 8 PM with their intersecting mix of brutal Death and Progressive Metal. Bringing with them a ton of talent, Alex Green brought a mass of energy on vocals, while Jordan Rush brought wildly creative progressive melodies on guitar, Seth Stone offered some fine out of the box furiously brutal low tones on bass, and Cody Pulliam did much more than just fill in the gaps in between behind the kit.
Comprised as a quartet, they managed to hold their own amidst the presence of such high status European extremists. This is mostly because of their mastering of technicalities, specializing in bass and guitar inner workings that stood them above normalcy. With their most recent album, Dreamcatcher, recently released via Nuclear Blast, Aenimus are at a high point in their careers, serving them well leading into other future tour possibilities.
What came next must first and foremost be described as a mind-blowing brutal expedition of the highest quality. That description could only fit Fleshgod Apocalypse, which is not only an outstanding band name, but an equally outstanding bunch of musicians. A Symphonic Death Metal band in a league of their own, based on their performance at The Regent, they could very well win a Viking ship, stormy nighttime sea battle against even the likes of Amon Amarth!
A special band that stands out, Lead Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist Francesco Paoli is a frontman of outstanding perfection on all levels – from stage presence to stage banter. Together with recent additions, include Lead Guitarist and Backing Vocalist Fabio Bartoletti, along with David Folchitto on drums, the band is complete with veteran Bassist and Backing Vocalist Paolo Rossi along with Francesco Ferrini providing piano, string arrangements, and orchestral effects, as Veronica Bordacchini dishes out operatic vocals, adding a unique charm. In terms of character, musically and visually speaking, Fleshgod Apocalypse present something a level above other bands. From a visual standpoint, they are known to wear Victorian era tailcoats with some form of cravats. This is while the lone lady in the band, Bordacchini, is always in a Gothic period dress, and on this night, looking like a dark, enchanting queen of superior soprano range.
In addition to their dark, classy, Gothic, and almost pirate-esque attire, the three string players, along with the vocalists, lined up with their dark wood-grain matching instruments as they performed an outstanding set that included “The Violation,” “Healing Through War,” as well as “Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon).” Recently announcing the release of their new album, Veleno, due out on May 24th, there was no doubt fans had this news on their mind. Thankfully, the band fed the curiosity, debuting two new songs from the forthcoming album – “Sugar” and, later, “Fury.” A great introduction of what is to come, the new tracks carried a very forceful, powerful punch of Death Metal technicality, melodic, and brutality that also incorporates just the right amount of symphonic elements to the broth.
With four strong albums under their belt, and a new one on the way, the set was full of some great moments that also included “Healing Through War” and “Cold As Perfection.” As mentioned before, the two songs off their upcoming release, Veleno, which means poison in Italian, were a pleasant treat and brilliant step in the right direction. Dare we go as far to say the sheer power pouring out from the audience was enough to sell them on Veleno as a whole.
As the night progressed, they jumped into a few songs from 2013’s Labyrinth such as “Prologue” and “Epilogue,” eventually gearing up for the ‘wall of death.’ Hilariously it was quite a weak wall of death this time around as moshers seemed to just get stuck on one side of the pit, included the guy with an Opera styled curly haired wig, becoming a type of Jester mascot. That visual picture painted, the set concluded with “The Forsaking” as Paoli threw out a few bottles of water into the audience as a gesture to hydrate them for their enthusiasm prior to the entire band’s classic European stage bow. With a very visual show that is better than ever, a live Fleshgod Apocalypse experience is the equivalent of a cultural Death Metal opera explosion.
Shortly after, the time came for Hypocrisy to close out the night. One of Death Metal’s gems, Hypocrisy return to Los Angeles was long overdue. In recent years band leader Peter Tägtgren took some time to concentrate on his other project, Pain, which made their North American live debut back in 2017 on tour with Orphaned Land. Also a band worth checking out, the return of Hypocrisy return comes force, because when Tägtgren does his magic with either band, it is with full power.
As the stage darkened a little after 10:30 PM, nearly simultaneously, AC/DC’s “Problem Child” played over the PA before Hypocrisy pummeled the room with their brand of old school Death Metal. Starting off with one of their more classic songs “Fractured Millennium,” the heavy assault ensued with “Valley of the Damned,” and “End of Disclosure.” Feeding off the crowd energy, Tägtgren hinted a new album from Hypocrisy was in the works, one which perhaps dives back into the band’s roots. Whatever the new music may be, it is clear the band pride themselves on the live performance as shown on the opening night of the North American tour at The Regent. Tägtgren, along with longtime Bassist Mikael Hedlund aiding the deathly sounds, as Horgh blasted the drums, and Tomas Elofsson providing some killer melodies on guitar, led them into other tracks, including fan-favorite “Eraser.”
Moving along at a rapid pace, as the end grew near, they played some heavy older hits including “Abducted,” “Buried,” and “Killing Art” before the finale of “Roswell 47.” In terms of newer tracks, amidst it all, “War-path” certainly set the pit into chaos and characterized Hypocrisy’s mission well – to leave their audience completely rattled.
In the opinion of some fans, Hypocrisy’s earlier tunes carry the most comfort; that is before the band took on a more classic Melodic Death Metal approach around the time of 1996’s Abducted. To some, the old school tunes seem to bode strongest, while later ones such as “Fire In The Sky,” which thankfully was on the setlist, seemed to take Hypocrisy on a tangent. A notable tangent, and one adored by fans alike, yet still, some believe Hypocrisy will always be an old school straight up Death Metal band at heart. Whatever your opinion may be, it highly recommended for any type of Death Metal fan to see Hypocrisy and the entire touring package including Fleshgod Apocalypse and Aenimus. In enough words, it provided a breath of fresh brutal air for the future of Metal.
Photo credit: Karina Diane Photography