When you think of Japanese music fans, those who are into symphonic death metal don’t usually spring to mind. But the fandom is real, and Italian metal band Fleshgod Apocalypse can attest to that.
Riding the success of fourth album, “King,” the group returns to Japan for the first time in two years next week for a three-city tour.
Fleshgod bassist and vocalist Paolo Rossisays the group’s choice to tour in Japan was driven just as much by its fans as it was the members themselves.
“Japan is becoming more and more a death metal country,” Rossi tells The Japan Times via email. “There are differences between death metal crowds from different parts of the world, both in numbers and behavior, but the common point is the great dedication of the fans.”
Unlike conventional death metal, the symphonic kind blends a number of elements from classical and orchestral music with the breakneck-paced drums and distorted guitars typical of the genre. Rossi is also known as a “clean” vocalist, which means he sings rather than growls.
Fleshgod’s latest album and performances take the genre to its natural extreme by utilizing rapid tempo changes and intricate song structures to keep at-home listeners and concertgoers alike immersed in the music.
Rossi sees this blend of technical ability and chaos as one of the band’s talents.
“I think that ‘King’ is like an arrival point for us,” he says. “We finally developed and crafted what we had in mind since the beginning: A balanced symphonic death metal album where the listener can enjoy all the aspects of our music clearly.”
Formed in 2007, the band has seen a number of changes in its lineup over the past decade. The current roster also consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Francesco Paoli, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Christiano Trionfera, pianist Francesco Ferrini, drummer David Folchitto and guitarist Fabio Bartoletti.
Since Fleshgod’s last visit to Japan, the group has gained two new members and Paoli, who stepped down as lead vocalist in late 2009 to play drums, has returned to center stage as the band’s frontman once again. Upon former lead vocalist Tommasso Riccardi’s departure, Rossi said the band considered Paoli “the only one in the world to take his place,” and that he had always “dreamed” of returning as a frontman
Despite the ebbs and flows in membership over the years, Rossi is more than confident in the group’s ability to evolve moving forward.
“We will continue developing and researching our sound and also exploring new solutions,” Rossi says. “A musician never has to stop to creating something new, without repeating himself. That’s our philosophy.”
Fleshgod Apocalypse plays Shibuya Cyclone and Duo Music Exchange in Tokyo on Nov. 21 and 22 respectively; Nagoya Club 3Star on Nov. 23; and FanJ Twice in Osaka on Nov. 24. Shows start at 6 p.m. and tickets cost ¥6,000 in advance. For more information visit www.fleshgodapocalypse.com.