The Metal Mayan
Fleshgod Apocalypse, Obscura, Wolfheart, Thulcandra @ The Gramercy Theater
"Look at you guys, all dressed up," he said, his voice rich in a Brooklyn accent, "ain't this a metal show?" The couple in line smiled, "It is!," they replied to the man clearly on his way home from work, "But this is a Fleshgod Apocalypse show so it's like a night at the opera for us!"
And so it was for the couple and everyone else waiting in line outside The Gramercy Theater for the evening's performance. Indeed, Fleshgod's appearance alone draws a large crowd any day, especially in New York City. But combine them with support from Obscura, Wolfheart, and Thulcandra, and it is easy to see how many of the tour dates, including this one, sold out completely.
Starting the night off with their stellar blend of blackened death metal, Germany's Thulcandra walked on stage to deafening applause from the audience. Despite celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, this was not only the band's first show in New York City, but, in fact, their first tour of the United States and Canada ever.
With fans long awaiting a North American run, Thulcandra rewarded their patience with playthroughs of one song from each of their four releases. As a special bonus, the band brought "As I Walk Through The Gateway" to the stage off their upcoming fifth album Hail the Abyss, due out in May. Having quenched a mighty thirst but also offering a sample of music still to come, there is no doubt that New York demands to see the band in town again soon.
Whether it was the outside air, the fans blowing inside the concert, or the opening notes of "Skyforger", a chill fell upon the venue as Finland's Wolfheart kicked off their set with the fury of the north winds on their side. Balancing melodic death metal might with powerful vocals, crowd surfers took flight, soaring over the barricades like Whooper Swans, the national bird of Finland said to bring disaster to anyone who harms it according to Finnish mythology.
Having only performed in New York twice before (2018 with Carach Angren and 2019 with the gone but never, ever forgotten Children of Bodom), horns were high in the air after each of the band's six songs. "Name me a band from Finland that isn't absolutely amazing, I dare you", said one fan after the set. In the highly unlikely chance that such a band like that does exist anywhere in the Land of A Thousand Lakes, it is certainly not Wolfheart.
If there was any feeling of fatigue from pulling double duties as guitarist and lead vocalist for both Thulcandra AND Obscura, Steffen Kummerer did not show it. Indeed, his smile was wider than ever as he took the stage for the second time in one evening to helm the tech-death titans. Even from the edge of the barricades, the gusts coming from the endless circle pits could be felt as the band charged through ten songs, including "Forsaken", "Solaris", and "Devoured Usurper" off 2021's A Valediction.
Those not caught in the mosh pit were treated to the head spinning guitar work of Kummerer and Christian Münzner and the relentless drumming of David Diepold. Musicians in the audience paid special attention to the acrobatics of bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling, who continues the band's tradition of exclusively using a fretless bass.
Sprinkling in some old school tracks, including "The Anticosmic Overload" and "Ocean Gateways" off of 2009's Cosmogenesis and 2011's Omnivium respectively, it was a wonder how there was any energy left in the crowd for the headliners still to come.
As the lights dimmed, the iconic melody of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik", followed by Vivaldi's "Primavera (Four Seasons - Spring Part I)" blared over the house speakers. Even those not familiar with all the works of the great composers know these songs by heart, and those who have seen Fleshgod Apocalypse at least once know there is a reason why fans call their shows "a night at the opera".
Beginning with the appropriately titled "Fury," and continuing into "Healing Through War," the Italian sextet showed no mercy with their incredible brand of symphonic technical death metal. Combining the roars of guitarist/vocalist Francesco Paoli with the unbelievable soprano stylings of Veronica Bordacchini, the band really brought to life the 'theater' part of The Gramercy Theater.
With playthroughs of classic songs "The Egoism", closer "The Forsaking", and the beloved "The Violation" (all off 2011's Agony), as with any good play or opera, the magic of each Fleshgod show is unique to every stage. While several singles have been released since 2019's Veleno, fans anxiously wait for the next full length album. What tragic tale or epic story could be waiting in the music and lyrics of what is yet to come? One can only wonder...
Press and photo pass courtesy pf Freeman Promotions
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