The Antichrist Imperium
The Antichrist Imperium

When it came to pushing the envelope of extreme metal to, well, its outermost extremities, few did it better that the UK’s Akercocke. This was a band with not only a passion for extreme metal in all its twisted forms, but also a taste for the avant-garde that would meander anywhere from electronica, to opera, to industrial, resulting in a straight ahead “no fucks given” sound that really belied definition. While this of course attracted criticism from the metal purists, for those a little more open-minded it made Akercocke revolutionaries, a law unto themselves, and a much-needed shot of adrenaline into the heart of an otherwise complacent genre. After their final opus, 2007’s Antichrist, Akercocke continued on the live circuit for a couple of years, seemingly gearing up for a follow up record, before unexpectedly calling it a day leaving fans, myself included, somewhat heartbroken.

Lucky for us, drummer David Gray and guitarist Matt Wilcock had unfinished business, and have spent the past few years honing the unused Akercocke material that would have otherwise been destined to be forever entombed in the rehearsal room. Quite rightly, without the involvement of Jason Mendonca, this material could never bear the name Akercocke, but this can almost be viewed as an extension of their discography given the circumstances. Aiding Messrs Gray and Wilcock with their evil task are Sam Loynes (Voices, Shrines) and Sam Bean (The Berzerker, The Senseless) on clean and death vocals respectively. With the line up complete, The Antichrist Imperium is finally upon us!

“Elegy” kicks off proceedings with a searing riff barrage that sets the precedent for the rest of the album. Guitars and drums sound phenomenal and are further embellished by Sam Bean’s deathly vocal delivery, which is more conventional and less feral than that of Mendonca, yet no less effective in its end result. Then come the clean vocals from Sam Loynes, again different from Mendonca’s approach. When they first come in on the opener I was slightly taken aback, not quite sure how they fitted, but my fears were allayed by the end of the track and indeed the rest of the album. Loynes’s vocals add an eerie melancholy to the mix, not too dissimilar to those of his Voices bandmate, and ex-Akercocke bassist, Pete Benjamin.

Wilcock’s guitar style is probably my favourite aspect of this release. The man can switch from ferocious, crippling velocity to bluesy, almost soulful soloing at the flick of a switch. The riffs themselves just keep coming in spades ranging from full on death metal, to thrash that wouldn’t seem out of place on an Exodus or Forbidden record, to black metal wall of sound, to acoustic beauty, it really is a mixed bag, but it works. It’s almost like everything I like about various styles of metal have been wrapped together into one exquisite package.

The standout track for me comes in the form of “The Stiffening of Death” which boasts an opening riff that both pummels the listener and features one of the best uses of natural harmonics I have ever heard. The mid-section of this track can only be described as a destructive and nightmarish cacophony. Closer “Epitaph” is also a highlight, although strictly speaking every track offered demands multiple listens. This is one off those records that hooks you from the moment you hear it and does not let go. While Macabre Omen’s latest offering has remained my strongest contender for album of 2015 since February, The Antichrist Imperium has come along and truly topped it. Bravo gentlemen, it is no mean feat to create an album of this quality and importance, and I can wholeheartedly state that this is an instant classic that I will revisit for many years to come.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Tom Blackwell
November 9th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    been waiting for this for years.


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