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Review: Akercocke - Antichrist

Label: Earache Records
Year released: 2007
Duration: 52:32
Tracks: 12
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: May 15, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers Rating

Rated 3.94/5 (78.89%) (18 Votes)

Akercocke's Antichrist was one of my most anticipated releases of 2007 as Choronzon and Words that Go Unspoken… are two of my all-time favourite albums. They had already signaled their intent to move into more progressive territory with the last release, so I was expecting some great material in the vein of "Shelter From the Sands", but my feeling is they went just that little bit too far here, and lost some of the edge that made Words… such a great album.

Antichrist kicks off with a bunch of twisted sound effects and demonic ranting in what I'd guess is Latin (or maybe just backwards English), and while it does its job of establishing mood I'm glad it only goes for a minute. "Summon the Antichrist" sees the metal kick in, and damned if that kick in isn't right in your face! Blasting and shredding are the order of the day here, and accompanied by Jason Mendonça's gutturals there is no doubt Akercocke is here to slay! "Axiom" is the *ahem* single of the album, and it starts with a quick but quiet acoustic pattern that is driven by blasting (I think of them as golf clap blast beats), and it work surprisingly well. "Axiom" also sees Akercocke at their most progressive with some almost lounge jazz interludes and solos, and whilst my fanboy heart wants to believe they work, deep down I feel that they don't, feeling a little forced and out of place. Next we get one of a few filler tracks; along with "Distant Fires…", "The Promise" is pretty weak, and the 5 minutes or so of the album they consume together could have comfortably been dropped. "My Apterous Angel" and "The Dark Inside" continue the progressive bent of the album, and while the former does little to ignite my soul with hellfire, the latter is a great track – one of Akercocke's best. It has an odd central theme that I can only think to describe as blackened 80's pop, and it just works! Thankfully, half way through the album we are treated to "Man Without Faith or Trust", a track of ferocious Black Metal that hearkens back to Choronzon's "Enraptured By Evil", and contains some seriously blasphemous lyrics:

Silence words of righteousness,
Fill the angel's mouth,
(the angel's mouth),

Awesome. Awesome to the max. The production is both crisp and stifling with the guitars and bass squashed together, giving a slightly claustrophobic feel that enhances the albums already considerable atmosphere. David Gray's drumming is, as always, superb and drives the music brilliantly. One thing about the album that really let me down, more than it should have perhaps, is that Mendonça seems to have lost his screech – it's just not as unholy, more of an imp than the banshee it used to be. Thankfully his voice is in fine form for his death grunts, gutturals and clean vocals.

Akercocke are one of my favourite bands, and I want to be able to say that Antichrist is yet another in a line of incredible albums, but truth is this is a bit of a disappointment. There are definitely some cool songs and riffs, but there is also some filler (not to mention the just plain embarrassing "love song to Satan" that ends the album), and it kind of feels a bit like they were just trying too hard. Like it usually is when a great band releases a good album, the disappointment is all the more bitter for what came before, and this feels more like an entry level release than a great band at the top of its game.

Track Listing:
  1. Black Messiah
  2. Summon the Antichrist
  3. Axiom
  4. The Promise
  5. My Apterous Angel
  6. Distant Fires Reflect the Eyes of Satan
  7. Man Without Faith or Trust
  8. The Dark Inside
  9. Footsteps Resound in an Empty Chapel
  10. Epode
  11. Chapel of ghouls (Morbid Angel cover) (Ltd Ed. Bonus track)
  12. Leprosy (Death cover) (Ltd. Ed Bonus track)
Other related information on the site
Review: Choronzon (reviewed by Pagan Shadow)
Review: Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone (reviewed by Brett Buckle)
Video: Axiom
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