Akercocke - Renaissance in Extremis

August 25th 2017
(CD Album Review)

*****

Akercocke awaken from a ten year slumber and unleash a masterpiece

An event in every sense of the word... one of the most important bands to come from the UK Metal underground has returned. Members of the band kept the torch burning in Voices and The Antichrist Imperium, both bands are still active and have releases planned for later this year. Now the boys are back in town as it were, Akercocke are fully functioning with a mixture of returning old and new members.

Following a successful run of shows last year the band finally return with their first album in ten years 'Renaissance in Extremis'. When opener 'Disappear' kicks in with quite a Thrashy beginning all feels quite familiar. In seven minutes everything you are going to hear is actually summed up quite well. All the diverse qualities we know and love Akercocke for are present in all their glorious brutality and eccentric madness. Akercocke sound like no one else and no one else sounds like them.  

On the first listen it feels like the last ten years haven’t happened. The band have literally picked up where they left off and it’s as if they never went anywhere. On repeated listens what’s hidden in the details comes to the surface more, this is a band that have matured. First thing I’ve noticed is that Satan isn’t mentioned at all and lyrically it’s quite reflective. Song titles like 'Familiar Ghosts, One chapter closing for another to Begin' or 'A final glance back before Departing' and there are lyrics like “Like Breath upon a mirror, I have come to accept, no more beginnings”.

The track 'Insentience' has a particular melancholy when frontman Jason Mendonca sings “I feel the light grow cold and felt my soul grow cold” like someone looking back and realizing generally things aren’t what they once were, one way or another. 'Familiar Ghost' also feels very eerie at the beginning before building to a powerful theatrical climax. It’s actually the band’s most melodic album, although it’s heavy and has all the shredding and blasting that comes with an Akercocke album none of the songs apart from the opener really start out all guns blazing.  

What I’m saying is that there is a lot going on here and a lot of time spent with the album bares many rewards. When you look at the original five Akercocke albums. Take the first 'Rape the bastard Nazarene' and the last 'Antichrist' they were opposites with the third 'Choronzon' being the mid-point. That album gave way to many new elements to the band’s sound which they would extend upon over the following albums.

'Renaissance in Extremis' take everything great from all five albums and launches itself as an individual piece of work. It’s a welcome addition to a fantastic body of work while making a new chapter in it. As a side note I can’t recommend enough the special edition that has three cd’s. Obviously you get the album with a disc of the bands demos and a disc of live recording including the band’s first performance. All is beautifully presented in a hardback book filled with photos and interviews it’s a must buy for fans and well worth the extra money.

Review by Joe Denby 

Listen! to the Track for 'Insentience' Below...

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