The London-based satanic gentlemen have done it again! Unquestionably the most anticipated album for me this year, as Akercocke is one of, if not the most, talented extreme metal bands of this day and age!
Some of you might think of this as a strong and possibly outright mad statement, but let me prove it to you (if I can). Akercocke is not just some regular "death metal" group of old. They have no qualms when it comes to taking chances both emotionally as well as sonically.
Antichrist is not as consistently brutal as The Goat of Mendes, not as technical as Choronzon, nor as progressive as Words that Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone. Antichrist is a separate entity of its own; oozing a sultrier and darkly erotic atmosphere than most records can ever hope to.
I have always told people, in a joking sort of way, that Akercocke is the first extreme metal band to be called "sexy". However, this labeling might not be so far from the truth. This music, when it is not searing your soul from the extreme necro-blasting and tremolo-picked aural rape, then it is lulling you into a sense of dark passion that envelopes and eventually overwhelms…. That is one of the major appeals of Akercocke to me is that their music can come off as cathartic, brutal, romantic, and tasteful all at the same time.
Some of the most brutal tracks this band has ever recorded appear on this record. "Footsteps Resound in an Empty Chapel" is one of the most frightening, venomous extreme metal tracks ever written. Seriously, Akercocke comes of as brutal and ravenous, and just flat-out evil. Most so called "extreme metal" bands can barely make me bat an eyelash in regards to their presence (Nile, I am talking to you!).
Always expanding their sonic palate, Akercocke explore techno-esque themes in "The Dark Inside" (in which one part I literally thought I was listening to indie-rock!). "My Apterous Angel" gives us epic trappings of previous classics like "Shelter in the Sand" (complete with atmospheric crow trappings near the middle of the track) minus the 10+ minute track length. However, the two strangest tracks on this record, from my viewpoint, are "Axiom" and "Epode".
"Axiom" starts out with beautiful, classical-style guitars played over a blastbeat. Strange combination you say? It works wonders here. As the song progresses, the tone goes from an almost lusty atmosphere to something that I can only describe as a nightmare made digital! Near the close of the track, Akercocke surprises us again with a very jazzy sounding section that comes off as avant-garde and sinister at the same time. All of this in a 5:14 time frame!
But the real kicker to this album, and probably my most favorite track (which happens to be the album's shortest number) is "Epode". This track is significant in many ways. First off, it is sung by new bassist Pete Benjamin, who I must say has a really distinct, soulful voice. This song (to me) is about complete surrender to someone (Satan is mentioned in the prose, but let us be honest…. It is much deeper than that). I think it has to be one of the darkest, most passionate songs I have ever heard. Akercocke always seems to end their albums in a very interesting way, and this particular song tops the surprise track "Lex Talonis" from 2005's Words that Go Unspoken…easily.
Antichrist is unquestionably one of the best extreme metal albums of our time, and possibly Akercocke's best (still debatable…Words…is a hard album to beat). Akercocke only continues to develop their sound more and more with each passing release, but never conforming to any one type of genre in the process. There is no pigeonholing them; they are simply "Akercocke". Great job, lads!
Summon the Antichrist
My Apterous Angel
Distant Fires Reflect The Eyes Of Satan
Man Without Faith Or Trust
The Dark Inside
Footsteps Resound In An Empty Chapel