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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.