metal talk
instagram Facebook Twitter RSS
metal talk

jools green
19th August 2017
Jools Green


London's Akercocke have always stood out amongst their contemporaries with their uniquely inventive blend of progressive blackened Death Metal, which some have tried to match and imitate. All have failed.

Akercocke released five groundbreaking albums before mysteriously retreating into the shadows for the best part of a decade, announcing their return in an equally mysterious manner about eighteen months ago.

Their return culminates in the release of 'Renaissance In Extremis', an album which contains that core sound but it's been greatly expanded upon, the elegant yet dissonant melodies, the skilfully off kilter elements, the dramatic switch in mood and pace between calm and fury delivered now with even more finesse and power than on past efforts.

Article continues below...


The refreshed line-up of Jason, David and returning guitarist Paul Scanlan, along with Nathanael Underwood on bass and Sam Loynes on keyboards deliver a powerful and memorable nine track, fifty-four minute chunk of extreme excellence which has benefited from both the hiatus and the line-up change. Their previous five full lengths are still on my listening roster and 'Renaissance In Extremis' already stands above them.

Lyrically, gone are the obvious Satanic references - or are they there but hidden in a subtle esoteric way?

These are replaced by sadness and anger with a desire to rebuild and strive forward and it makes a powerful listen, especially when combined with the unique mix of elegant melodies, touches of thrash and dissonant elements with an ability to switch from unsettling calm to fury seamlessly in a heartbeat.

They're matched only by the way Jason switches between growls, angry psycho shouts, at their most wonderfully deranged on 'First To Leave The Funeral', as well as his angelically mournful cleans, all delivered with a power that never ceases to amaze.

There are an abundance of the usual Akercocke style riffs which go hand in hand with some exemplary lead work across the release but which particularly caught my ear towards the close of 'Disappear' and on 'Familiar Ghosts'.


David's drum work continues to be breathtaking; fast and brutal in the intense areas of the tracks, such as the latter part of 'First To Leave The Funeral' or on 'A Final Glance Back Before Departing', but truly coming into its own in the quieter non vocal parts midway through 'Disappear' or 'Unbound By Sin' as he works his way around the kit fluidly and rhythmically. You are very aware of the drums but they don't overpower, only enhance and add texture.

A subtle effectiveness also comes from Sam's keyboards, particularly on 'Familiar Ghosts' which even has a slight psychedelic retro touch and many of the tracks are appropriately enhanced with sound bites, most notably of the ocean and seagulls on 'Familiar Ghosts'.

'Inner Sanctum' was the first released track from the album and it has a mystical edge to the sound and is the most moving track of album whilst 'A Particularly Cold Sept' is an exceptional closing track for Akercocke, who as much as I've loved their past releases have slightly lost me on the final track on at least three of the five previous albums, but not this time. You sense the cold in the opening guitar work and it's further enhanced with smooth sax and trumpet work early in before turning manic and crushing.

1. Disappear
2. Unbound By Sin
3. Insentience
4. First To Leave The Funeral
5. Familiar Ghosts
6. A Final Glance Back Before Departing
7. One Chapter Closing For Another To Begin
8. Inner Sanctum
9. A Particularly Cold Sept

'Renaissance In Extremis' has everything that you will have loved about past offerings, just bigger, better and more brutal yet with the suave sophisticated quality of the past. The suits may be gone but that "je ne sais quoi" still exists; I doubt you'll find a more complex release this year, certainly not in this genre anyhow.

'Renaissance In Extremis' will be available from Peaceville as Ltd Edition deluxe 3 CD hardbook, CD, 2LP - double gatefold 180g heavyweight black or red vinyl or digital download.




Metal talk © All written site content is copyright 2008-2018, unless otherwise stated, and is not to be used without prior permission.