It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally back with another edition of A Gift to Artwork, and today we’re looking at three records from none other than Fleshgod Apocalypse. We’ll be moving through chronologically, beginning with their sophomore effort Agony from 2011. The record is a concept album dealing with the evil inherent within mankind, and how the behaviours which stem from this can keep mankind within a perpetual state of agony. For an example at what kind of evils they’re discussing on the album, one need not look any further than the track listing to get a taste for it.
The artwork is dominated by the human figure in its centre. Immediately we see the relationship between the album’s concept, its title and the artwork, as the human is bound by rope and chain to the ground, trapped in an unnatural, painful and vulnerable position. This is further reinforced by the anguished facial expression, and the fact that the human is naked, absent of any form of protection. A parallel can even be drawn between the human and a caged bird as its mobility is restricted, it is clearly being held captive and its fists have curled up in pain to resemble talons. Similarly, the curved, talon-like spikes or rock formations in the background are curved inwards, the sharp points facing the human and emphasising a sense of entrapment, reiterating that there is no escape. The fact there is only one figure in this depiction, a single human, highlights that at the end of the day we are all one race, and that ultimately we are destroying ourselves by continuing to allow the evil aspects of our nature to control our behaviours.
The black, stormy clouds foreshadow the evils to come and suggest that a storm is coming if man does not change his ways. The human also appears to be shielding himself from another blow, indicating that things are going to get worse before they get any better. Not only that, but the figure appears to be a giant in size, yet his gaze is averted upwards, indicating that the threat is an even larger, colossal figure. A bleak and somewhat grotesque cover, it certainly sets the tone for the record’s concept and ties in well with the other aspects of the album.
Next up we have 2013’s Labyrinth, another concept album, this time looking at a Greek myth where Prince Theseus slays a minotaur (half man half bull) and navigates his way out of a giant labyrinth. The record is also intended to be allegorical, with the maze representing our search for who we truly are.
The artwork is almost entirely consumed by the labyrinth itself, with the maze full of dead ends, emphasising the difficulty of Theseus’ task to find the minotaur and then get back out alive. Returning to the metaphor, it also highlights the enormity of our challenge to discover who we truly are (find the minotaur), to come to terms with who we are (slay the minotaur), and to become that person in our daily lives (to successfully exit the labyrinth). The dark storm clouds and circling carrion birds foreshadow the perilous nature of the task at hand, while the blotted stains on the labyrinth wall could be the drying blood of those who have failed, a good fit for the dark nature of the record itself.
Finally we can now turn our attention to this year’s stellar release, King. This concept album follows different characters of a royal court, with most of them representing a certain evil of mankind. Only the King himself is intended to be a positive figure, a figure whose courage and integrity we should all strive to emulate.
The artwork’s central figure appears to be the King himself, and at first glance one can see why he may be worthy of emulation. His lavish robes, the colours on display and his crown all point to his wealth, whilst his sword and war medals represent the bravery and valour that he must have displayed on the battlefield. Yet, this figure does not come across as positively as was perhaps intended, for the artwork clearly hints towards the evils inherent within this court room. Puppet strings surround the King, indicating that his will may not be his own, whilst the puppeteer remains invisible and unseen. The strings themselves move up towards the dark, shadowy corners of the room, suggesting that the sinister puppeteers operate from the shadows. Finally, the King is not wearing his crown, and the crown itself has a chain affixed to it, subtly implying that perhaps he is not King after all, and that he is in fact a slave to his hidden masters. The dualities on display certainly make for an intriguing work of art, and given the conceptual nature of each of Fleshgod’s albums we may dive deeper into their storylines in future posts. Until then, enjoy the albums themselves and the brilliant artwork on display.