Akercocke - Renaissance in Extremis

Akercocke are legendary in the extreme metal world. Formed in 1997 by Jason Mendonca and David Gray, they burned bright over five albums and incendiary live shows, combining black and death metal creatively with melody and layers of prog influenced sound. Sadly they then disappeared from sight.

In 2016 those of us at the Bloodstock Festival, were privileged to witness the second coming of this great band as they returned to play a storming set that set the Festival alight. The new album Renaissance in Extremis demonstrates resoundingly that this is a new phase of the band, with the music showing real ambition and edge.

Disappear is an astonishing opener, combining thrash, prog and atmospheric black metal, layered with growled and melodic clean vocals, and some great guitar soloing. Of particular note is the amazing drumming of David Gray, that is inspirational in its ferocity and musicality.

Unbound by Sin adds a post rock type middle section into the musical mix, and later a scream of utter desperation by Jason Mendonca, calmed by some shimmering guitar.

It is though Insentience on this album that really takes your breath away with its musical vision! It is a song that effortlessly and with a musical logic of its own, snaps from a major full on black metal section with blast beats, into a quite beautiful vocal led melodic section with an incredibly emotive guitar solo full of expression and melodic twists and turns. It must figure as one of the best metal tracks of the year!

A Particularly Cold September, and what a great title that is, is the album closer. It is a track that states the case, and then some, for why Akercocke remain vital to the extreme music scene. The progressive folk influenced guitar introduction provides a sense of rural setting, and the gentle vocal speaks to folklore and myth. A set of languid trumpet phases then brings a jazz cool, to be succeeded by a prog section with atmospheric synthesizers. Then it's headlong into fast metal thrash and death growl vocals, with a timpani section transitioning the song into a soaring guitar solo that seems to reach for the heavens. This is groundbreaking and dynamic music, that is compositionally very sophisticated. We are very lucky to have Akercocke back with us!

They are touring the UK in October. Don't miss them!