Death Metal icons Akercocke took the Metal underground scene by storm with their debut, Rape Of The Bastard Nazarene, in 1999, and its follow-up album in 2001, The Goat Of Mendes. Now, over two decades later, they celebrate those albums with Decades of Devil Worship, a live set drawn from both landmark releases.
Akercocke – Decades Of Devil Worship (Peaceville Records)
Release Date: 21 July
Words: Jools Green
Decades Of Devil Worship was recorded live at the Underworld in London back in 2007 when they were famed not just for their unique meld of Progressive Blackened Death Metal and satanic, sexually inspired lyrics but their penchant for their wearing of suits onstage. This made them stand out further over other bands in the scene, definitely adding an air of sophistication and individuality, often copied but never matched.
The thirteen-track live set, spanning over an hour, opens on Conjuration, followed by Hell, Nadja, The Goat, Marguerite and Gretchen, Zuleika, Il Giardino di Monte Oliveto Maggiore and Justine, from Rape of the Bastard Nazarene. Followed by Of Menstrual Blood and Semen, A Skin For Dancing In and The Horns of Baphomet from The Goat of Mendes. The CD but not the vinyl also features He Is Risen and The Ceremony of Nine Angels, also from The Goat of Mendes.
The most important factor that has been absolutely nailed with this release is the quality of the sound and the production, which is superb. There’s enough audience interaction left in to maintain the live feel, and the mixing and mastering of the music content is excellent.
I’ve seen Akercocke live around half a dozen times since their return, and the sound quality at their gigs sometimes doesn’t do the consistently high quality of their performance justice, especially in the Underworld, where I’ve seen them most. You can fully appreciate the dynamic complexities of David’s drum work and the superb vocal range from Jason throughout this live recording, which are also vital factors as these have been elements that have suffered the most on other occasions when the sound engineer hasn’t gotten it quite right.
This live set also sits close to my heart as, despite appreciating their music for the best part of the last two decades, I never had the privilege to see them live pre-hiatus. However, Hell, Justine, A Skin For Dancing In, and The Horns Of Baphomet still feature regularly in their current sets.
Favourite tracks in this set for me are Marguerite and Gretchen, with its superbly bouncy bass lines, hypnotic groove and haunting drop-away. Also reaching out and touching my cold blackened heart is the hypnotic yet brutal A Skin For Dancing In with its superb blackened under current of riffs, and who doesn’t enjoy singing along with the line “Grant me a skin for dancing in, dark master.”
The legendary The Horns of Baphomet, with the haunting sinister opening repeat riff and Jason’s deranged scream of “Baphomet!” are guaranteed to curdle one’s blood, send a shiver down one’s spine and is one of the first tracks that comes to my mind at the mention of Akercocke. It’s such a fascinatingly engaging and intensely compelling piece that pushes Jason’s vocal capabilities to the max.
The release of the fifth album Antichrist in 2007 marked the end of the first chapter of the Akercocke story, not long after they went on hiatus for the best part of a decade, returning for their next chapter, minus the suits, but still as superb as ever with Renaissance In Extremis in 2017.
But Decades Of Devil Worship stands as a superb testament to those past times and will tide us over until the next studio release, whenever that will be. Not too long, I hope.
Decades of Devil Worship will be available in CD, Vinyl and digital formats.