It seems that every week in 2017 a new progressive death metal album is released that entirely banks its existence on the fact that most death metal fans don’t listen to progressive metal or remember what happened yesterday. Akercocke were once a grandiose, exploration prone band that truly understood atmosphere within the confines of modern death metal. Albums like ‘Choronzon’ and ‘Antichrist’ were thickly produced and carefully brutal death metal opus. Their finale ‘Antichrist’ was incredibly fresh back in 2007 compared to the Death worship trend of the time. It also remains one of the better examples of incorporating clean vocals tastefully in a death metal album without going full on Opeth and scaring people away. Sure, the growled vocals were poorly done but it never detracted from the inventive style and immediate pace of the music.
Fast-forward ten years after an extensive hiatus and it seems Akercocke have diffused their mighty satanic roots completely and instead ushered in an excess of math rock and progressive metal influences. The result initially appears amateurish as the production eschews guitar focus for clarity and the vocalist is, almost hilariously, the weakest link. His style would be entirely passable if he better understood his limited range. The whole affair takes some cool twists and turns but dissolves its most intense or musical moments with some sluggish throwaway thrash riffs and a lot of pointless shredding. The sheer variety is pleasant enough, and there is an underlying intent to be accessible that is admirable… but the record lacks any real direction.
‘Renaissance In Extremis’ is at it’s most impactful when Akercocke are embracing the progressive rock influences that characterize it. Songs like “A Final Glance Back Before Departing” and the immense closer “A Particularly Cold September” are where the true extremity and personality of future-Akercocke appears. These moments are nearly devoid of progressive death metal or bad thrash riffing and resemble simple prog-metal ambitions that have nearly finished gestating. It speaks to the sort of naive urgency found in every Akercocke release that their most vulnerable recording is also their least impactful. I have no doubt they will become an amazing prog-metal band in future releases, but the style is yet under baked.
|Released||August 25, 2017|
|Listen to the album HERE||Follow Akercocke on Facebook|