Akercocke - Renaissance In Extremis album review

London’s dapper diabolists arise with a more personal perspective

TODO alt text

Eccentric death metal cult Akercocke first grabbed our attentions at the end of the last century with a riot of tits, bums and sacrificial goats, the besuited quartet gradually honing a decadent blend of full-throttle Satanic barbarity and offbeat, New Wave impulses, getting progressively, er, progressive until the disparate blur of 2007’s Antichrist. That LP has rested uneasily as the apparent valediction of a mighty contender, but 10 years on it’s been bested by this vibrant opus, a heartening reassertion of their singular craftsmanship with a decade of personal growth worn into the grooves. So the suits, diabolic bluster and lesbian porn have given way to a more creepy, opaque aesthetic, and the guitar tones are brighter and cleaner than the hyperblast of old. Sonically there’s still that unsettling sensation of skipping through a wave of (unfeasibly good) radio stations as different styles coalesce in eerie sync: prog, thrash, death, black, punk, post-punk, goth, ambient and even post-apocalypse jazz cabaret. Jason Mendonça tests his range from guttural grunt to heartbroken croon, blackened rasp to hardcore yell. Returning axeman Paul Scanlan’s orgiastic solos have been missed, while new bassist Nathanael Underwood brings a playful independence to the low-end. Despite the darkness and melancholy running through it, for the first time the sensation that permeates an Akercocke recording is one of warm joy.