Akercocke | ‘Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone’
How this band were ever going to follow the more or less magisterial performance they commanded on ‘Chronozon’ – an album of consummate songwriting and impressive brutality – was always going to be a point of interesting debate. Unsurprisingly, the band have elected to build on its strengths, capitalising on the gains they made with overt leanings toward the unapologetic heavy metal and sensationalist lineage that has reared them.
Having shown such fierce creativity and fire since their first self-release (now an unbelievable six years in the past), this band were never going to hang around in the doldrums of plain old death metal. Hence, their development to this point has been long forseen. So while tracks like the career best ‘Leviathan’ from their last opus showed precisely the trajectory they should be following, it is with this album’s worth of such similarly mature tunes that we can now judge them for the grown-ups they’ve become.
Except that that’s not entirely the case. The more things change, the more they are actually prone to stay the same, and it is striking how far backward rather than forward Akercocke have gone with parts of this release, even beside the obviously divergent material they’ve gone to pains to include here. Perhaps its in order to balance the more experimental elements herein, or perhaps they have learned to appreciate naked brutality again, though in truth they rarely ever strayed from it. Opener ‘Verdelet’ for instance contains many structures and approaches that could happily have sat on ‘Rape of the Bastard Nazarene’, with its thrashy, direct and not too complicated approach, and ‘Eyes of the Dawn’ shows similar brute extremity. But the talking point with this album will of course be its nods to more progressive modes, showcased chiefly in the longer tracks, and which show an impressive control of atmosphere and energy.
The nods to this kind of approach have always been apparent in their music, but nowadays Akercocke are justifiably unafraid of shying away from giving more open, considered sections a good run in their work. Listening to the late night London atmospheres conjured in here, one hears the wealth of their inherited good old English eccentricty beginning to really shine through. And oddly enough its Killing Joke that one cant stop referencing – particularly during the clean sung sections, that in fairness must be criticised for not being quite as clear and lucidly produced as perhaps they should have.
There is a certain hoary old Goth atmosphere going on throughout this record that is highly infectious, reminding of genuinely dark English concerns from the 80s that remain as stirring today as they were then, and its a development that lends their music a newfound classic air. Fiercely brutal while retaining a commendable experimentalism, this album is not quite as wonderful as ‘Leviathan’ was – harldy a criticism given its breath taking quality. But it remains exceptionally brutal while being evocative, and even pernicious, in equal measure. Stirring stuff as ever then, from this band that have consistently delivered the goods.
4.6 / 5 - Earl Grey ::: 30/10/05