Thursday, August 12, 2010

Akercocke - Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone

Opeth + balls = this album

Akercocke have blazed quite a twisted, curved path in the metal world as of late, making a name for themselves due to blatant, overt satanism, album covers with good ol' naked titties, wearing expensive tuxedos all the time, and, most importantly, a progressive and seamless blend of death and black metal, sprinkled liberally with calm/haunting acoustic progressive rock passages. I've made it quite well known that I despise Opeth, so I'm sure it might be a little strange to learn that I'm an Akercocke fan, considering the music is so similar. Well, the way I see it, Opeth is banal, overlong, and some of the laziest songwriters in metal. Akercocke on the other hand, possesses just as much musical talent as Opeth, but they write full on songs that are captivating, interesting, effective, and overall impressive. The metal sections are fast and crushing, while the calm parts are haunting and atmospheric.

My main beef with this album is actually the main reason I hate Opeth so much, and that's the transitions. Music doesn't always have to flow pleasantly, an unexpected duke to the jibblies can be quite effective when used tastefully (see Cryptopsy's Phobophile for a prime example). Here, the transitions between blistering metal fury and calm acoustic passages transition with an almost audible clunk. The fact that these transitions occur approximately twelve quadrillion times a song only amplifies the frustration. Take the opening track, Verdelet, as an example. It starts with pummeling double bass drums and a galloping death metal riff strongly resembling the opening riff of .44 Caliber Brain Surgery by thrash/death band Demolition Hammer. This obviously makes for some skull crushing, ball thrashing heavy metal. Then, from out of the great blue sky, comes a dirt ridden acoustic bridge with the vocalist screaming in a low, anguished, clean voice "I CURSE! THIS WORLD!". While both sections are textbook examples of awesomeness in the context of metal, they work together about as well as two fat kids trying do decide who gets to eat the last brownie. This happens time and time again throughout the duration of the record.

I think the thing that stands out the most to me is the drummer. Just listen to him, even during the quiet progressive passages, he is still playing extremely fast metal beats. This doesn't mix well on paper, but it translates to a very interesting take on musical stylings when actually played. I also feel that the vocalist deserves mention, as he has an extremely versatile voice. His clean voice is deep and fitting with the haunting passages it usually accompanies, while his deep death metal gurgles are completely indecipherable, yet carry a cadence that keeps the intensity cranked up to eleven. Not to mention his high pitched black metal howls are top notch and terrifying as well. Honestly, there isn't anything to complain about when it comes to the band's technical ability.

To be completely honest with you, this is probably a love it or hate it album. The extreme metal segments could probably dissolve most human scrotums if played loud enough, while the other parts are, once again, creepy and unsettling. So it all boils down to whether you can tolerate either facet. Akercocke is one of the more unique bands I've found as of recently, playing a captivating style that few bands actually manage to pull off well, so I would recommend them. Check out Verdelet, Seduced, and The Penance for some furious death metal, but be wary of the strange bits thrown in throughout the album (I EXERCISE MY RIGHT TO BE HATEFUL! in Eyes of the Dawn is one of the more blatant). Reviews for this style don't mean much really, but I don't usually like anything described with both the words "progressive" and "extreme" tacked on to the genre, but I highly enjoy this, so maybe that means something.

RATING - 83%

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