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Choronz-On Fire! - 88%

Hellbent, April 10th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Earache Records (Europe)

During the early part of the 21st century, along with Nile and Cryptopsy, Akercocke were one of a small number of bands releasing death metal which offered a fresh take on the genre, as opposed to simply gazing wide-eyed at the numerous classic releases spewed forth by the US and Sweden a decade previously, and then slavishly imitating the tones, but not the wondrous, alchemical magic of Left Hand Path, Blessed Are The Sick, and all the rest. This is not to criticise too harshly the bands whose aims are simply to emulate the sounds of their heroes, and keep the flame burning for certain iterations of the genre – there will always be a place for the kind of solid genre practitioners that fill out mid-afternoon festival line-ups, and the lower reaches of multi-band touring packages. Equally though, we must remember that much of the brilliance of the classic death metal giants was a consequence of the fact that these bands assimilated the traditional heavy metal and thrash that drew them into the extreme metal realm, and twisted it into new and exciting forms. If we still wish to discover the excitement of the novel and ingenious within death metal, it requires that bands continue to fuse their interpretation of the music of their forbears with a desire to conquer new territory, and in 2001 there were realistically precious few bands doing this, particularly in comparison to the black metal scene of the same period, which was going through a dazzlingly creative phase. At the turn of the century, bands such as Akercocke’s compatriots Anaal Nathrakh, and Norway’s Thorns, Dodheimsgard and Ved Buens Ende all birthed fascinating albums which were ostensibly black metal, despite the fact that they had relatively little in common with De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, or In The Nightside Eclipse. Aside from the stellar music, it was this context that made Akercocke’s first two albums such essential listening, evoking the spirit of the classic death metal, but with a sound all of their own.

With the passing of time allowing us the benefit of placing Akercocke’s third album, Choronzon, in the wider context of their discography as a whole, it becomes clear that it is, in some ways, a transitional album for the band. This is not to say that it is in any way a misstep, or indicative of a drop in the calibre of their output, but it does seem to occupy the role of a connecting bridge between the intricate, but vicious extremity of their early years, which moved from the huge potential showcased on Rape Of The Bastard Nazarene, to the flourishing of this potential on its monumental follow-up The Goat Of Mendes, to the spectacular, but more refined, progressive metal of Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone. On the latter, despite the more free-wheeling nature of the material, Akercocke tread their path with total conviction and deep understanding of their position in the universe. On Choronzon however, the overriding impression is that they are attempting to find their way from one destination to another, but without a map, or clear idea of what the destination is, possessing only the hope that they will recognise it when they get there. Consequently, the album is all about the journey, and the inevitable detours that they pursue on the way, and thankfully it’s a voyage that is intriguing, experimental, and mostly full of magnificent metallic music.

Chorozon commences with a fairly lengthy horror sample, not unlike the kind of thing that one-time touring mates Mortician have made their trademark. Superficially, this appears to be Akercocke falling in line with a standard death metal trope, but in fact, rather more thought has gone into it than might be immediately obvious. Akercocke, despite their personal Satanic philosophy, which seems aligned to a LaVeyan form of irreligious Satanism, eschewing any kind of literal belief in the antichrist, their music is full of allusions to the many demonic forms in which a more Thelemic form of Satanism would suggest that evil can manifest itself. Choronzon itself is one such form, essentially described by Aleister Crowley (another mainstay of metal thematics) as a demon of chaos. The sample that precedes the opening track ‘Praise The Name Of Satan’ is taken from an episode of the seminal British horror serial ‘Hammer House of Horror’, the plot of which is based around an invocation of Choronzon, thereby linking in perfectly with both Akercocke’s own aesthetic of the decadent English gentleman, and the central theme of the album itself. Of course, once the sample concludes normal service is resumed, by which I mean that Akercocke treat the listener to a scorching epic, integrating virtually every facet of their far-reaching sound into a thrilling fire and brimstone concoction. Expertly utilising mysterious dissonance as always, the guitars conjure a series of unusual chord voicings, with Jason Mendonca’s black metal screech adding a frightening additional texture. Almost immediately, the aggression drops off, and creepy arpeggios underpin a synth backdrop, beneath which David Gray’s unfailingly accurate double-bass battery continues to rumble forwards, evoking the threatening menace of an entire division of tanks. Then, as if to demonstrate that they haven’t mellowed three albums into their career, a grim, icy blast reminds the listener that if Akercocke are nominally a death metal band, they are a death metal band that have the ability to adopt the speed and modality of prime Gorgoroth when the mood takes them. As satisfying as this all is, it is also largely what one would expect from Akercocke, even if the electronic element of their sound feels even more natural that it ever has before, and not the afterthought that it might be in the hands of a less capable band. The latter section of the track, however, sees the band take flight into spacy prog-goth realms, which exhilaratingly feels like the first tentative steps into the direction that they would commit themselves fully to, just a couple of short years later. Once again, we see an already mature band continuing to evolve before our very eyes.

Another part of this evolution sees Akercocke exploring the scales and tones of more Eastern-sounding music, expanding their palette to encompass their variation on the lush and sun-scorched sounds of North Africa and the Middle East. This is introduced via the brief interlude which transitions smoothly into ‘Leviathan’, one of the pivotal tracks on which the album as a whole turns. ‘Leviathan’ picks up the Eastern theme for the closing phase of the track, although it twists its way through a maze of dazzling motifs before it gets there. Initially, the vaguely danceable (and slightly dated) feel of the mid-tempo goth-metal feels like giant step towards the kind of accessibility that opens up the band to the kind of sell-out accusations that the underground enjoys throwing at any band that dares to periodically operate on any setting below white noise. The stabbing guitar figures and electronic thrum recall Pitchshifter’s stompy snarl, and the comparison continues to be apposite, as Akercocke again display their ability to seamlessly meld metallic riffing with David Gray’s interesting drum ‘n’ bass-influenced drum patterns. Fascinating stuff, but the track solidifies its status of one of the band’s most satisfying as a result of the lush psychedelic section which finally resolves the uneasy dissonance of the first few minutes in a lengthy and beguiling synth-based workout, which suggests a productive meeting of minds between Tool and The Cure, and utterly alters the complexion of the track. Finally, the warm, enveloping sounds of the aforementioned closing segment of a bewitching track conjure the kind of opulence that Opeth adopted so effectively on the most evocative tracks on Ghost Reveries. Not for the first time in their career, Akercocke have demonstrated the ability to conquer new territories and integrate a diverse array of sounds without the kind of clumsy incongruity that often afflicts similar attempts by lesser bands.

The experimentation with more laid back and melodic sounds continues throughout an album that is impossible to pin down – every time the listener feels that they have figured out where Akercocke are going, they abruptly introduce a new dimension to their sound, the 2-Dimensional map suddenly gaining a third dimension, and the perspective shifts accordingly. ‘Valley Of The Crucified’, for example, intrigues. An immersive gothic ballad, led by delightful synth melodies which bring a deep grandeur to the band’s sound, emphasising textures and deft harmonic interplay over churning tremolo riffing, and gradual development over the stop-start structures that the band usually favour. If this gives the impression that Akercocke are maturing just a little too much, the way in which the same track builds to a bestial slice of symphonic black metal shows that they have not moved on from the kind of extremity that made their name, but have simply learned how to accommodate some lighter shades within what was previously unremitting darkness. ‘Son Of The Morning’, towards the end of the album is another of the touchstone tracks previously mentioned. While Akercocke have always featured electronic sounds across their albums, generally in a subtle way, this track sees the band truly embrace this aspect of their personality, the buzzing electro providing a firm foundation for the vaulting vocal melodies of the verse. Potentially, the band could have opted to truly play against type here and maintain this sound for the full duration of the track, but the band’s restlessness means that it is not long before this streamlined version of Akercocke flourishes into a progressive metal masterpiece that operates primarily and uncharacteristically in a triumphant major key. The shimmering guitars, and dextrous riffing suggest an exciting update to Cynic’s early 90s sound, or even Jane’s Addiction discovering blastbeats. The whole thing is utterly majestic, and totally compelling.

It’s not all free-wheeling exploration, however. ‘Enraptured By Evil’ returns to out and out brutality, showcasing breathtaking velocity and pulverising death metal that perhaps surpasses anything that the band have ever recorded in the heaviness stakes. The endless variations of the band’s familiar whirring, gymnastic riffing style that develop the main themes of the track, are frankly mind-boggling in the precision of the execution, and as ever, Gray’s drum performance is a masterful blend of instrumental proficiency, power and feral intensity. Akercocke have an incredible gift for creating memorable hooks from complex rhythmic ideas, which prevents their intricate musical web from ever becoming too much of a triumph of technique above all else, and this is fully evident on this fantastic song. ‘Scapegoat’ and ‘Becoming The Adversary’ are also magnificent examples of the pure metallic fury that Akercocke are still capable of whipping up, when they are not recreating the Byzantine sounds of the ancient Middle East. The former sees the band substitute their usual preference for Altars Of Madness-era Morbid Angel for the more sickening lurch of the Blessed Are The Sick incarnation of that legendary act, before the band drop into an insanely infectious thrashing mid-section that is a total departure for them, before culminating in the kind of dizzying tech-death that Cannibal Corpse have been trafficking in for some time now. The latter covers a huge amount of ground, from pure Norsecore minor-key blasting to cosmic Mithras-like psychedelic death metal, and the fret-melting wizardry of the latter half of the track make it probably the highlight of the whole album.

‘Goddess Flesh’ brings Choronzon to an odd close, a synth-pop ballad built on a staccato string loop, which is in keeping with the ambience of the record, but something of an anti-climax after the white-hot pinnacle of ‘Becoming The Adversary’. This, however, should not cloud our judgement of what is another sublime album in the Akercocke discography. Once again, the band continue to mine a rich seam of blackened death metal, while simultaneously growing their sound into new areas in a way that feels like a perfectly natural extension of their core sound, as opposed to gauche trial and error. Their ability to generate all-pervasive and immersive soundscapes, while still dominating the competition with their superior metallic firepower is matched by Nile alone of that era. If there are flaws to be found in Choronzon, we should point to the fact that it is not quite as coherent an album as The Goat Of Mendes, and as such does not quite compel the listener’s unwavering attention with quite the same relentlessness. However, it also contains some of the band’s best work, and should most fairly be evaluated as a necessary step on the road to its mighty successor, which succeeds in pulling all of the wild threads of experimentation initially woven on Choronzon into a single cogent expression of progressive majesty. The destination is wondrous, but the journey there is also supremely enjoyable.

First published here:

This is one evil record - 84%

DMhead777, April 26th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Earache Records (US)

This is an album I have listened to a handful of times but only gave it proper attention now. I have stared at this album in my cd tower and just wanted to dive into it properly. Unfortunately, as many times as I put it on in the past, I got bored. It sat on my shelf for years. This is another reason I like to review albums in my collection. It gives me an opportunity to return to material I otherwise disowned. When it came time to review "Choronzon", I had to put myself in the right mood. As much as I stick up for the lyrics in death and thrash metal, I can't really justify those of black metal. It's silly for me to hear "fuck jesus, fuck god" etc. It just doesn't vibe with me and it often comes across as too try hard. My opinions of black metal lyrics may have changed by listening to this record though.

Now, this isn't a straight black metal album. There are, at least, three to five genres on this thing. The major thing you'll notice are the black metal elements. The way Jason Mendonça alters his voice from these high pitched black metal vocals to a low, death metal like, growl is unbelievable. Half way through this album I assumed there were multiple vocalists. Hearing all of this come strictly from one man suits the theme as I believe the man is possessed. A lot of the instrumentals are pulled straight from death metal. The blast beats and the bass riffs are 100% death metal. Not to sound cliche, but the bass here, by Peter Theobalds, really reminds me of Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse. He's just slappin' away and it fucking sounds awesome. You can actually hear the bass on this record. There are also thrash metal elements, although they aren't as obvious. The faster songs like "Enraptured by Evil" and "Becoming the Adversary" have these Slayer like opening riffs that will melt your god damn face off. Then, when all is said and done, you get these somewhat European instruments on the outro song, "Goddess Flesh". That song alone solidifies "Choronzon" as truly unique. Instrumentally, this album is firing on all cylinders and is going to take me multiple listens to appreciate it fully.

The atmosphere and world building by the lyrics truly changed my perception of black metal lyrics as a whole. I'm not sure if it's because Akercocke is more progressive than straight up black metal, but god damn do they know how to write lyrics. They really paint a picture, especially on songs like "Valley of the Crucified". I felt like I was walking by people that were rotting away on crosses. It was pretty badass. The first couple songs are pretty long, sitting at over seven minutes. I understand that instrumental tracks give you a break and helps build atmosphere. I don't really agree with the placement of them on here though. For starters, the first instrumental song, "Prince of the North" is the second track on the album. I get that the first song is over seven minutes, but I think it would have been better further down the album. It's a very unsettling song with organs and a different style of guitar that makes me feel like I'm playing Castlevania. I also think that it's the only instrumental tune that is needed. The other two, "Choronzon" and "Upon Coriaceous Wings" don't really do it for me. Those two songs are your more stereotypical filler tracks than doing anything for the album. It didn't ruin my experience, but I kind of wish all the songs flowed together a bit better.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't really care for those standard black metal lyrics. I get it, you hate God and religion. Not only is this album absolutely fucking evil, but it is classy. That may sound funny due to the naked chick on the front cover, but I stand by my point. There are over the top and silly lyrics like,

"Coming for your son
To drink his fucking blood
And humilate the corpse"

but as a package Akercocke writes lyrics that deliver images in your head. Not a lot of bands can make the listener feel like they're reading a book. I never thought a band from this genre could do something like that for me. These songs make you want to listen to the entire album to get the experience. Despite the oddly placed instrumental tracks, there are these fantastic songs throughout the run time. There's not a time where you can shut it off and say, "the album goes down hill from here". I do believe that some of the songs are so long that they are missing that riff that makes you go back to it again and again. I get this band is more lyric based, but there aren't that many memorable sections of songs besides the one I provided above.

Overall, I am very glad I gave this album another chance. It's completely different than what I thought it was going to be. It changed my perception of black metal lyrics and bands. This album is many different genres wrapped up into one outstanding album. It's filled with great written lyrics and extremely talented instrumentals. The vocalist Jason Mendonça sounds like he is possessed with his highs and lows. This album was made in 2003 and still holds up in 2020. This album isn't perfect though. There are some songs that are a bit long and a couple of the instrumental tracks could have gotten the boot. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives and I think this is a pretty stellar album from front to back.

Recs: "Son of the Morning", "Goddess Flesh", "Praise the Name of Satan", "Enraptured by Evil", "Valley of the Crucified", "Bathykolpian Avatar", and "Becoming the Adversary"

Ave Satanus! - 96%

DemonFeces, August 16th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Earache Records (Europe)

Let us take a moment and lament the dissolution of Akercocke. As great a band as I believe them to have been, it was a wise choice on their behalf so as not to tarnish their reputation by releasing junk. Choronzon, Lord of Hallucinations, is the title of their third full-length. A chick with a rather square ass is on the cover looking into a wrought iron mirror adorned with Luciferian and Satanic symbols. Her reflection is joined by a red demonic presence baring its piranha teeth. I'm gonna guess that would be Choronzon himself. By the way, Praise the Name of Satan... the name of the first track on offer. "Gaze into it's depths..." And rather deep it is. Akercocke were built on a progressive demeanor and their choice to experiment with guitar effects, ethnic instruments and intriguing arrangements, is what sets them apart from other less notable acts. Those that berate the bands who toss in a few dashes of difference, suffer the loss. May they fucking choke and seizure on the blood I vomit down their ungrateful throats.

Each one of us has that particular or small handful of albums that we can sit through from beginning to end. Obviously that is a rare occurrence in this day and age with heaping loads of hackneyed horseshit being shat in our general direction. Atmosphere appears very important in creating that memorable experience. I believe that this is why Akercocke's albums have great appeal to me. Choronzon is a journey. A journey that starts with you running for your life from an unseen evil through a dark forest. You seek safety in a cold castle, shadowy figures danse macabre with the flame of torches dimly lighting the way. Stumbling down the spiral staircase, you fall into the dungeon as the malformed inhabitants close in for the kill... I'm a glutton for those 2-3 minute intermission tracks that more musically-inclined bands write. Most people toss these to the wayside, throwing up their hands and shouting "useless filler!" When they are done well, as Akercocke demonstrates, they add extra elements that make a for an exciting listen and here they add a ton of atmosphere.

Corpse-ripping, troglodyte-heavy riffing is performed with demonic speed; no need to worry about that. The amount of cocksucking that Mr. Gray receives is crazy. He's a good drummer. But listen carefully; he's a sneaky fuck. Sometimes, there's only percussion being played, no skins. Variation is the key to his performance, and the album as a whole. A few times he disintegrates to simple D-beat rhythms; other times he's all elbows and wrists. The guitars are so caked in reverb that discerning the bass is [as per usual] impossible but it adds heft to the overall sound. Vocal duties are performed solely by frontman Jason Mendonça. His range is tantamount to the music itself. High to low, screeched to guttural, and ghostly clean to boot. His vocal chords are truly possessed.

A decade ago this was an essential release that put both British extreme metal and Earache Records back on the map. Ten plus years later, it has annihilated the test of time. Buy or die.

Akercocke - Hidden Masterpiece, Satan IS Pleased - 95%

godofgomorrah, February 24th, 2009

This album is a masterpiece by the suit-clad English Satanists, Akercocke. It starts with Praise the Name of Satan, and it is a fitting tribute. Beginning with a spooky intro taken from the film, the Exorcist (I believe) it is effective and builds up to the beginning of the song. I think it might be unnecessarily long but you soon forget about it when the song begins with the speedy drum rolls. You may think it is pure black metal at this point but with a lot less distortion and better production qualities, but the album is a mix of black metal, death metal and other avant stuff. Eastern melodies are used quite a lot. The only downside to the album is that the songs don’t flow into each other (each song is a masterpiece on its own) and that there are too many instrumental passages in between songs.

The atmosphere created by the dissonant guitars, bass, drums, keyboard, acoustics and vocals as a whole is amazing. The drumming amazing is extremely fast and well put together, some of the fills are extremely fast and cymbals are used really well but not extensively. Of course there are blast beats. The vocals on the whole album vary between death growls, real dog vocals, black metal screams, bass male singing and mad-man shouting. All of which are done extremely well. The riffs are extremely well written, they are catchy as Satan's claws but evil sounding and aggressive, especially in songs such as Praise the Name of Satan and Leviathan. The guitar playing is super smooth, solos are well written with use of whammy bar, sweeping, everything really but always adding to the atmosphere. The bass is not always heard and doesn’t do too much but you can definitely feel it adding to the bottom end.

Praise the name of Satan and Leviathan are the two outstanding tracks. They both are long and contain so many different sections; it’s like a haunting journey. There isn’t much to say about them, but if you’re not convinced look up leviathan on YouTube, it isn’t the full version but you’ll understand what I mean. They are just great songs, atmosphere yet intensity and they always keep you on the edge of your seat. Leviathan has a great end section with whammy solos and some heavy riffing alternating. These two songs are quite clever in their use of dissonance, and they use subtle techniques to move the riffs along so that they don’t just sit there, small variations etc... (Triplets as well).

Enraptured by Evil, Scapegoat and Becoming the Adversary are some of the pure brutal songs on this album. No frills and eerie, dreamy or clever build-ups here, just pure riffs. The guitar tone is extremely heavy and the vocals are awesome on these songs. And of course there are tons of blast-beats.

There are also some softer songs on here, which are pretty dreamy all the way through. Valley of the Crucified is the first example of this, this majestic keyboard floats above the distorted guitars and the singing is well done. It seems to swell up as you get further until you here some mid tempo riffs and screams. And then of course the dissonant guitars. You actually hear the bass in this song doing some things. Bathyklopian Avatar is the next one, the drums are so groovy (for lack of a better word) here, and the riff sounds so cool over the top. It meanders a while between heavy riffs and growling and then back to the dreamy interludes. At about 2:00 I hear one of the coolest riffs but it isn’t brutal just hovers amidst the clouds of noise. The last one is Son of the Morning, which is a bit pointless and repetitive but not boring I think. It’s captivating and there’s a lot of bass, the lyrics are really interesting here and you can hear them well. There is a really almost-Taake-like riff later on.

And there are 4 filler songs with eerie noises and synthesizers.

Overall the albums lyrics are mostly about Satan, satanic philosophies and other occult things. When you can understand them I find myself straining to understand. The production has all been done at their own studio, but it is excellent. Great use of panning and they really knew how to balance the mix and get a great guitar tone. They use synthesizers or samples in some places very nicely.

This album is fantastic, brutal, haunting, epic, majestic, dreamy, crushing and in some places scary

By Emiel .

One Hell of a captivating ride - 97%

Against_The_Masses, October 29th, 2008

Whenever I am bored or sick of what’s going on in my daily life, I can always count on an Akercocke album to captivate my senses. The band’s third release, Choronzon, is actually the first album I heard from Akercocke, and was my introduction to their complex, enthralling style. I must admit, it took quite a while before I really “got” it. When I first turned this thing on, I know I enjoyed it, but it only barely connected with me on a superficial level. Most of the compositions passed me by subconsciously, and it was only a few months later that this excellent work’s significance hit me like a massive freight train.

So when you get right down to it, what exactly is offered here? Well, let’s see:

-dynamic heavy guitar work with chaotic riffs abound, remarkably sinister acoustic passages and too many well-composed solos to keep track of
-a mesmeric singing performance with very discrete style and tone
-exotic synths that only build atmosphere, add flavor to the music and aren’t overdone
-a skilled, vibrant bassist that you can actually hear
-varied drum sections ranging from violent blast-beats to distinct patterns with influences from jazz as well as numerous other genres
-vicious guttural death growls and blackened shrieks that offer the right dose of edginess and ferocity

Damn! And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the replay value offered here is amongst the highest I have encountered and is only really rivaled by Akercocke’s other albums. As with the traditional formula of this band, each song contains a seemingly endless procession of different compositions that require perhaps a dozen different listens just for one’s brain to be able to comprehend. Their overall structures are caked with mesmerizing diversity and creative technicality. They never get tiresome or predictable, and they always seem freshly ready for experience. Altogether, I think it’s quite clear that Choronzon really has about everything one could possibly want in a Metal album. Akercocke simply bring more to the table than almost any other. How they bring so many elements together into the melting pot, while making it work so fluently, is just extraordinary.

Now, I find it hard to imagine that there would actually be anything wrong here, but upon intense examination, I think there are a few minor errors that would hinder this album from a perfect score. Of course, they are the same tiny issues that have always bugged me such as too many ambient instrumentals/unneeded non-metal parts (the album’s two minute intro from some old film is a notable offender), and the blast sections from the drum kit sounding slightly buried in the mix of the production. But really, these slip-ups are like a richly beautiful young girl with fairly crooked teeth. The faults are indeed there, but the overall picture is just so exquisite and nearing perfection that these faults are more than overlookable, and pretty damn irrelevant most of the time.

All in all, I would recommend this album to just about anyone who’s interested in hearing just how far music can go beyond the verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula or any tedious clichés in general, as to me, Choronzon is a new way of experiencing music.

Stuck In Second Gear. - 75%

Perplexed_Sjel, February 19th, 2008

Akercocke full-lengths can be reviewed in three different stages. First, we have the beginning. This was where 'Rape of the Bastard Nazarene' splashed on to the scene with very little impact. It was the beginning, so mistakes were made and errors were at the heart. The second stage would be where Akercocke began to swing towards a crossover genre between black metal and death metal, perhaps with a hint of progressive in the middle. It was where two full-lengths marked the changes Akercocke were making to their sound and signified that, despite the problems of the debut, they were working on improving.

This stage was when the second album, 'The Goat of Mendes' and the third album, the one in question, 'Choronzon' come into play. The next stage is the one we're currently at. It's a stage which is typified by the transition in sound Akercocke have made. The crossover into two genres is now complete and a progressive style of play is being enforced more upon the audience. This stage would be where 'Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone', the forth album and 'Antichrist', the fifth album make their way to centre stage. This latter period of Akercocke's established career is probably where they have gained the majority of their fans and the most of their recognition. However, one will be focusing on the end of the second stage in 'Choronzon'.

As previously states, 'Choronzon' would mark the continuation of Akercocke's transformation. It seems to be a period where the band were trying new things and experimenting with their sound. Whilst 'Choronzon' and the previous album before it, 'The Goat of Mendes', aren't held in as high esteem as the two following them, they are accredited with the turning point of Akercocke's career. 'Choronzon' to me especially marks the era in the career of the band when clean vocals started to have more of a role within the music. Tracks like 'Leviathan' are a prime example of Akercocke's desire to move more towards a clean style than simply sticking with the lack of variation in vocals shown on the debut. The debut signified problems with the vocals, in my opinion. They were weak. The band had a severe lack of direction in almost every department, so changes needed to be made and thankfully, for both the band themselves and us, the fans, changes have been made. This very fact is an example of how Akercocke aren't afraid to experiment with sound. It may not work yet, but one day, with enough experimentation, their sound will come. 'Choronzon' was released at a time when Akercocke hadn't yet perfected what they were later going to go on and achieve, but it was a decent effort at the crossover genre.

Improvements have been made, as I said, in every department. The growled vocals are stronger, the clean vocals are immense and add a totally new dimension to Akercocke and the rasping black metal vocals are powerful. They would later go on to improve the vocals even more so, but at this stage, they were as good as they could have been. The vocals were still an issue on the second album, but by now, Akercocke were finding form and beginning to look as it they were hitting their stride. Experimentation is priority. In order to find out what suits you best, you have to experiment. Tracks like 'Leviathan' and 'Son Of The Morning' are good examples. Layered guitars are proving to be a hit, especially as the musicians behind Akercocke were beginning to grow in stature. Musicianship was good, but needed improving at this stage.

There are times when the level of experimentation is good. Riffs are solid, executed superbly and the solos are enjoyable alongside the dynamism of the percussion and vocals, but there are certain points when Akercocke slip back into old habits and produce a mediocre moment. Where good riffs may be picked out, the vocals dampen the urge to do so. Too many filler tracks has always been a problem with Akercocke too. They add nothing to the album, 'Choronzon'. Nor do they really add anything to any other album. The audience isn't in need of light relief because, even though the tempo does become quite fast at times, it's not that hard or heavy to withstand.

'Choronzon' also represents a time in Akercocke's career when keyboards are figuring more and more in their routine. The keyboards aren't developed as well as the riffs, or the percussion at this stage. Bass doesn't leave much to speak of. The musicians aren't playing in tangent at this stage of their careers. 'Choronzon' does make a habit of becoming a bit of a mess at times. The keyboards especially. Soundscapes deteriorate and songs draw on old habits by lacking direction. Heaviness is used as a substitute for precise play. Where simply slowing the tempo down would be wonders for Akercocke, they turn the heat up. This album, 'Choronzon', is a sign of improvement, but still showed me that the band needed to do some work still.

HAIL SATAN!!! - 98%

natrix, May 19th, 2004


That's all I can say after enjoying this masterpiece in its entirety. For a long time I've been avoiding most modern bands, because of the prevalence of this hyper-blast grind noisecore crap going on. I assumed Akercocke would be the same, but when I saw their bizarre image and that their lyrical content was Satanism (and highly intelligent Satanism at that), I figured that they at least deserve a listen.

The musical content is a total mixture of brutal death metal, black metal, electronic/ambient, and a few touches of classical and jazz (yes, jazz...listen to the drumming and strange time signatures).

After a pretty long intro, this album just explodes with "Praise the Name of Satan." Blasting drums, Immortal-esque guitar flurries, and seriously low death growls. All of a sudden, it changes to an acoustic passage, then back to the black metal-esque stuff, this time with some droning keyboards. There are some more chunky riffs, sounding like Suffocation or Malevolent creation towards them middle, then a totally doomy section. All of these elements work, and amazingly, this band is equally talented to play them effectively.

"Leviathan" is the most "accessable" song on here, mainly because of Jason Mendoca's clean delivery, which sounds like Peter Steele a bit. It's mainly slow and atmospheric, but the bass drums are going full blast the whole way. A few parts speed up, but don't sound out of place at all.

I could name drop about a million bands here, from Emperor, to Morbid Angel, to Atheist, but Akercocke's the one who can take influences from all these bands and throw them into a melting pot to cast one hell of an amazing album. Martin Bonsoir's production allows all of these elements to bubble to the surface and sound powerful, rather than favoring a strictly death or black metal production.

One weird thing I noticed about this is the speed of the drums does not always match up with the speed of the guitars. The drums will be blasting, and the guitars will only be playing a slow chord progression, or a simple clean riff. This is good, though, and make the album seem a lot darker. The atmospheric riffing is awesome as well, and I've rarely heard a band that can pull it off without weakening their heavy sound (Opeth, I'm talking about you!). They layer the guitars quite a bit, using strange distorted melodies here and there, which gives Akercocke yet another unique tool in their arsenel.

The biggest treat on here is David Gray's drumming. Fuck! This man is phenomenal! He can pull off a blast beat as well as Pete Sandoval, throw in fills that recall Dave Lombardo and work the subtlties like Billy Cobham (an excellent jazz player). The best example of this would have to be "Becoming the Adversary," which is mostly fast, but the quiet parts at towards the end have some really great drum work going on.

My only gripe with this is the ambient tracks that pop up between some of the real songs. They lack character, passing by almost silently. Sure, they link the sings pretty well, but I'd prefer more stuff going on. Remember Pestilence's Testimony of the Ancients? That was really good use of intros...

Normally I'm really hesitant to give a band this high of a mark, especially on the first album I've heard from them, and the fact that they are a new band, but Akercocke has really proved me wrong. I just hope people don't start calling them posers like Cradle of Filth, because Akercocke is a no-shit extreme metal band for the new millenium.

A Masterpiece - 100%

darkandfoul, May 8th, 2004

Akercoke are like a breath of fresh air in the world of black metal. There’s no corpse paint – instead the wear suits! But more importantly, they deliver a refreshingly new approach to black metal. Choronzon is a masterpiece. It delivers everything from a brutal death metal sound (with very deep, low, guttural vocals) to a clean singing style that will take you by surprise. It varies from extreme to mellow, from sinister to holy, and from chaos to harmony. There’s moments that sound a bit like Nile crossed with Brodequin, others that sound like Faith No More, and bits that sound generic of the black metal scene. But overall, it sounds like Akercocke, for they have created and mastered their own unique sound. Kind of like asking a Zen philosopher what an orange tastes like – to know what an orange tastes like, you must first taste an orange. To know what Akercocke sound like, you must listen to Akercoke!

The album takes a wile to get started, with a two-minute long instrumental track, followed by the first two minutes of “Praise The Name Of Satan” being more atmospheric filler. But when the “real” music starts – whoa! Extreme! Vocals – wow! I’d try to explain them, but there are no words to do justice. Then, the whole song changes, into a guitar solo, followed by more extreme vocals, this time down low. Then, another change into a slower bit. Followed by another change! Then, yes, another change, with spoken vocals. In fact, there’s no traditional structure to this song. No, Akercocke will not go verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus. In fact, “Praise The Name Of Satan”, has so many different riffs that it’s ridiculous. But at the same time, it all flows.

The next song, “Leviathan” starts up, and at first it sounds like a completely different band. Clean vocals, and all the extremity is gone. It continues this way for a while, and in typical fashion of the album, flows on from part to part, creating more and more riffs, switching between extreme and mellow. This song maintains it’s overall feel throughout, even though it constantly changes. A masterpiece in song writing.

“Enraptured By Evil” starts of extreme again, with some of the deepest and extreme death metal vocals I’ve ever heard. Again, the song constantly changes, yet maintains the overall feel throughout.

The title track, “Choronzon”, is a weird interlude instrumental song. Again, this is something brand new. I don’t know of any other album that has its title track as an interlude.

“Valley Of The Crucified” starts of sounding like something by Faith No More, but quickly progresses into a more generic black metal song, and eventually gets more extreme as it goes along.

“Bathylkopian Avatar” gets the award for the most extreme song on the album. Pure brutality. Off beat timing, dripping water effects, spoken word parts, electronic bits, the whole works.

“Scapegoat” starts off like the most extreme of death metal songs. Then it just keeps going along the path of extremity. Yet another sound for the band, moving away from black metal, again with some spoken word parts. Brutal, extreme, awesome.

“Son Of The Morning” breaks the mould again. It starts almost like any number of top 40 songs from the 1980’s, with clean singing, a kind of disco-like drumbeat, and keyboards. The clean vocals continue as the drums speed up, giving a kind of power metal cross death metal sound, until the whole thing turns into a death metal song. The familiar spoken voice comes back, and then it kicks back to some death metal. Diverse, original, Akercocke.

“Becoming The Adversary” follows the structure of the other songs on the album, in that it has no definable structure. Another of the more extreme songs, of course with its less extreme parts.

Overall, this is an amazing album. Truly unique, devoid of structure, and utterly amazing. The song writing is outstanding. Well-done Akercocke. Well-done indeed!

Praise The Name Of Satan - 100%

Apophis, March 20th, 2004


There I was after having heard 'The Goat Of Mendes', being for the most part a fast-paced deathly-black affair of good quality, thinking that like most bands Akercocke might just bring out 'The Goat Of Mendes Part Two'.

How wrong could I be?

I think the thing I like best about the album is that overall, in comparison to the previous two Akercocke albums, this is a far more lucid yet precise album. Mixing in far more "non-metal" influences & instruments than on previous songs, there is a far more diverse and structured feeling to this album.

Yes there are songs which are basically more "melodic" than previously, but this use of not melody per se but slower more focused songwriting only serves to heighten the impact of the faster songs as well as highlighting the intricacy with which Akercocke have written this album.

Earache chose to promote the album with perhaps the two most melodic/ lucid songs on 'Choronzon', namely 'Son Of The Morning' and 'Leviathan'. These songs, to me at least, strike as an almost eclectic mixture of vintage Type O Negative merged with some of the best sounds death metal has to offer. Definately the most immediately engaging tracks on the album, though if you listen to the other tracks enough of the way through, you'll find elements you'll like in nearly every song.

No wonder then that they recently won the Critics Poll in Terrorizer magazine for Best Album of 2003, for this is an album that will go some way as to breaking down the already blurred lines between not just metal genres but music in general.

Superb stuff.