Akercocke - _Antichrist_
(Earache Records, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (
The UK metal media can be a strange entity sometimes. Perpetuated in part by a cluster of pompous simpletons who appear perfectly at ease with sacrificing substance over wordplay, I'd wager that there are more than a few bands who over the years have suffered at the nescience of a journalist who simply couldn't muster the energy to thoroughly pay attention to their music. So it is that a certain English rag recently reported that the fifth Akercocke full-length would represent a return to the band's death metal roots, even citing supposed traces of "hardcore dissonance" as a frequent occurrence across the record's ten tracks.The good news -- in case you were worrying -- is that this journo missed the boat more or less entirely, even though the opening discharge of "Summon the Antichrist" may at first suggest otherwise. A brutal, yet creative flurry of old-school death metal riffing, it's only during a brief progressive interlude that the song reveals some of the multeity to follow. A greatly emboldened "Axiom" underlines the point. Here Akercocke briefly tease us with a lone acoustic guitar, letting it linger to the dichotomous backdrop of a blast beat and clean vocals, before taking a header into a crescendo so charged it threatens to shatter any glass object within a five meter radius. It doesn't stop there. A genuinely creepy mesh of discordant guitars and layered yet attenuate synth lines on "The Promise" provide a perfect preface to the hauntingly brilliant "My Apterous Angel". Perhaps more than at any other point on the record, Akercocke capture their raison d'être here; the seven-minute opus referencing their every influence without once sounding fragmented.More conservative tastes are amply catered to as well: "Man Without Faith or Trust" and "Footsteps Resound in an Empty Chapel" pack in aggression and speed like it's nobody's business. Yet even here, Akercocke remain confidently adventurous and scintillatingly capricious. Indeed, their sole blunder is a brief, but ill-fitting electronic interlude during "The Dark Inside" that, to their credit, would most likely have been nailed down properly had it been given one more take anyway. Come to think of it, it's not unlikely that I'm subconsciously nitpicking in the hope that Akercocke's finest hour is still a few albums away.
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