Interview with pianist Francesco Ferrini | By Nicholas Senior
It’s a bit of an understatement to label Italian symphonic metal legends Fleshgod Apocalypse “detail oriented.” Yet, the band take every detail to astounding new heights with their latest opus, King, which was released Feb. 5 via Nuclear Blast Records. King sees the group expanding upon the elements fans of the band have always loved, as well as introducing some interesting new wrinkles to the mix. It doesn’t hurt that King is a joy to listen to, triumphant and elaborate in equal parts. The time Fleshgod Apocalypse took sweating the details has more than paid off on King.
Pianist and composer Francesco Ferrini explains, “Coming up with fresh ideas is never easy. We spend a lot of time focusing on the concept behind our albums, making sure all [of] the thematic material fits with the sound we’re aiming for.”
The record follows a narrative, and Ferrini says the band “wanted a strong characterization for each character involved in the story, so we started from the idea of writing specific songs for each one. King is like a book developed in different chapters.” After using the mythical labyrinth as inspiration, the band composed their own original tale centering around the King and the various members of his court. “Each [character] represents, metaphorically, a different aspect of human nature,” says Ferrini. “Our tale is not mere ‘historical fiction,’ but it concerns all of us humans, regardless of time. It’s not about a specific era; it’s about our own nature and evolution. In a world that runs so fast, the King is an ideal carrier for strong values that humanity around him lost track of. Some of these values might appear old-fashioned, even outdated somehow, but nowadays, there’s too much left behind in the name of ‘progress.’ Sometimes, we should try to look behind instead of merely chasing what’s ahead of us.”
“We tried to build atmospheres and soundscapes deeply connected to the nature of each character,” Ferrini continues. “For example, ‘The Fool’ is definitely inspired by baroque composers like Haydn, Vivaldi, or Scarlatti, since that neo-classical vibe was perfect for such a character. The first riff in the song is pyrotechnic and somehow joyful, but as the song develops, the tone becomes darker and heavier. That depicts the strong ambivalence with that character: he’s cursed to make people laugh as a living, but his inner self is torn apart by anger, frustration, and sorrow.”
Fleshgod Apocalypse are known to focus intently on their arrangements, but for King, they decided to try a different approach. On previous albums, the group developed ideas starting from orchestral or piano parts, but as Ferrini explains, “This time we used guitars as a main guidance through the songs.” Despite being more guitar-driven, King features some of the best orchestral parts Fleshgod Apocalypse have ever written. The symphonic and metallic sides of the band are as sharply written as ever, resulting in an album you could even appreciate with your grandparents… Maybe.
The band are heading out in February with Carach Angren and Abigail Williams in tow for a huge North American tour. “It is our first headlining tour in the U.S., and we’re incredibly excited about that!” Ferrini exclaims. The band will be playing longer sets with old favorites mixed in. It’s a great opportunity for the band to win over American audiences, and with an album as impressive as King—which is full of songs begging to be heard live—that should be an easy task.