posted on 8/2007 By:
‘I believe that when I die…I shall rot’.
Two fictional styles of fighting form ying and yang: one Fist comes from the North, and uses precise strikes onto vital pressure points located throughout the body to cause physical disruptions, resulting in joints rupturing, violent head explosions, and delayed, twisted demise. The other Fist is from the South, utilizing the fingertips to push from the outside inward, slicing and splitting opponents in half with such speed that disembowelment and dismemberment is effortless. If thrash metal was a martial art, it would probably originate from the North Star with a sometimes inhumanly fast, occasionally sloppy, but interesting technique. From the shadow of the Southern Cross there branches many different styles (black, death, grind) that wildly vary between contrasting swift mass-kill assassin arts, but one practitioner stands totally separate from all the others that impale and shred. This particular Fist is comparable to a swan floating on water, moving with such unmitigated grace, yet so utterly decimating in merciless force that some enemies can’t help but admire the beautiful way Nanto Suicho Ken reduces mighty warriors to tender vittles in seconds. Akercocke is the sophisticated, deadly incarnation of this swanlike anime fighting style, and with Antichrist, they continue their blasphemously refined metallic tradition in usual cultivated fashion.
While this new album does push progressive boundaries somewhat, don’t expect Morningrise here. It’s a compact, primitively produced effort that attempts to cram as much diversity into its conservative running length as possible without sounding too disjointed. This is hardly a departure, of course, and the scathingly blatant Satanic ideologies are as prevalent and unapologetic as always. I’m going to bypass the subject of the difficulty the band had releasing this album in North America, and just say it’s a shame the odd press surrounding the incident seemed to cause a negative dent in potential sales.
On to the music. The distorted “Black Messiah” opens things with grainy spoken words and sound effects before launching into the all-out rage of “Summon The Antichrist”. “Axiom” features a fantastic acoustic guitar/blast beat /clean vocal exchange that segues into goregrind, with touches of Enslaved-meets-Death machinegun riffing and a clean solo break that drops suddenly into a nasty pit of blackened furor with an industrial flair. “The Promise” is where things take a turn for the esoteric, slowing down and releasing steady waves of exotic sounds with thick power chords and wispy chanting. “My Apterous Angel” is rather plain for Akercocke and mixes unusual drum patterns with lengthy clean sections led by smooth vocals, but then things go completely tribal and a little boring during “Distant Fires Reflect In The Eyes Of Satan”. They crank up the speed once again with another rather basic track “Man Without Faith And Trust”, then “The Dark Inside” starts out with excellent chugging old school, midpaced death metal riffs and some amazing clean vocal patterns that eventually blends into more tight Schuldiner-esque ebb and flow riffing. “Footsteps Resound In An Empty Chapel” is another mostly full force tune that unfortunately just sort of slides by without throwing out any attention-grabbing riffs, and even the brief clean shifts are a little on the unremarkable side. Closer “Epode” is an acoustic homage to almighty Lucifer that I had a hard time connecting with for some reason, and it ends the album on a slightly abbreviated note (unless you have a copy with the badass Death & Morbid Angel covers).
Even though I don’t consider Antichrist to be a disappointment, there’s just something about this album that sounds a little clipped, and almost incomplete. This is not to say there’s a single moment to be found that flatly sucks, but there are times when it’s hard to pay attention or hang on to a riff despite the compact nature of the disc. Perhaps not their finest release yet, as some of it is sublime and other parts are pedestrian, however there’s nothing to scoff at or ignore if you already love this band despite the lack of surprise factor in this instance. It’s simply a new Akercocke album, and even though this exceptional group may not have set new standards of quality for themselves, this is still a criminally overlooked endeavor that slays a great portion of canned black and death metal out there today. Classy and ballistic as always, I think Akercocke broke even with this one.
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