Akercocke | ‘Choronzon’
Its a shame that so many reading this article right now will have made up their minds on Akercocke without even taking the time to listen to this cd. Its also a shame that in deciding that this cd being awarded Album of the Month was predictable, many will scoot down to the mark below, puff dismissively from behind their monitors and shrug the band off on account of their contentious dress sense.
In recent times few bands have engendered as much unnecessary criticism as these guys. With the descent of Cradle of Filth into self parody it seems the underground needs new hate figures, and the amount of press coverage and hype awarded to Akercocke seems reason enough to cast them as pariahs on web boards and fanzines gallore.
As well as this, it may seem a predictable review given that the band are coming to our own climes in the near future, and also that Earache are helping out with the Metalireland.com gig at christmas, which you might suppose a reason for such a collusive puff piece. I have but a single sentence for the detractors: dont doubt the objectivity of the reviewing on this webzine. I say bluntly that this album is nigh on a masterpiece, easily rendering press coverage and conveniently timed gigs an irrelevance.
I feel a particular fondness for the band, having relished their output from the first. The raw but brutal and inventive debut, the more developed “Goat of Mendes” (which gained AOTM herein in the past) and now this – all charting the development of one of the best bands the UK scene has spawned in years.
There were initial rumblings of discontent when the signature to Earache was announced, with many predicting a suave and mainstream sounding release. This is true in some senses. The opening riff of the standout track “Leviathan” for example, or the bulk of “Son of the Morning” were on initial listens, and even still, a little too swish for the extremist palate.
But the beauty of this album is its diversity and its scope: it simply embraces so much and embraces it so well, that my jaw at least is left literally floored every time I hear the tracks. And any suggestions of wimping out are simply groundless – this album is relentlessly heavy, and no matter how prog it gets will always return to a brutal blast to hammer home the attack.
A new development in the Akercocke camp is the inclusion of major melodies into the work. This is usually a recipe for desaster, and can contribute all to often to the seeming sell out feel of many records. Akercocke by contrast embrace it, allowing the clean and sung sections on the two abovementioned tracks to literally soar.
The clean guitar and subtle keyboard in “Leviathan” sounds wonderfully redolent of the best of atmospheric 80′s Goth, while the beautiful tones elsewhere lend the album a distinctly oriental eastern magickal feeling. Such attention to detail has been given to the guitars on this cd and the playing has improved ten fold from the last two albums.
Not a note is wasted, and there is not a single filler at all. So artful is the guitar and drum dialogue in here, particularly the clean explorations, and so memorable is the final cut that I am tempted to suggest that in the same way as teenagers sit and learn, say, “This Love” on the guitar in their bedrooms, that who knows – this album, and certainly the next, could provide equal food for such immortality and may well become as canonical as all our favourites with time.
This band have it in them. And given the push, why the hell not? Because this is as brutal, indeed more so, than much that the underground can offer.
You will pardon me if this review sounds like the critical equivalent of a blowjob. I’m just irritated at feeling the need to justify a praiseworthy review of this band in the face of the constant scorn that comes from many who have not even heard it.
This is a bona fide legend of an album, and its something I at least always knew they would produce. The use of light and shade, brutality and songwriting far eclipses anything that the masters of the genre have put out in the last three or four years and I want it to be noted. I want it to be heard.
There are many reasons in the current climate why I would shy away from giving this album such prominence, detailed in the opening paragraph. But in the face of all of these I say stop: buy this album. Judge for yourself. This cd is exquisite, and I wont be disatracted from saying so by what kind of a statement such a review makes. Album of the year?
5 / 5. – Earl Grey ::: 06/12/03