“Renaissance In Extremis”

By Dr. Abner Mality

A lot of band reformations wind up being disappointing. This one I was actively hoping for. And what an incredible return to action it is. I didn’t realize how much I missed Akercocke’s intelligent brutality.

This is another breath-taking exercise in creative extremity from these super-talented Englishmen. If I tried to describe “Renaissance In Extremis” on a song by song basis, I would fail miserably. Better to discuss this in its entirety. Akercocke were always known for their mixture of sheer brutal death metal with progressive rock and Goth elements. That continues here. This is the most technical Akercocke album ever. Every song is a dizzying exercise in metal at its most mind-bending, with loads of tempo and tone changes. First song “Disappear” is a good example of what’s going on here. Clean technical thrash almost in an Atheist style, with super guttural mush-mouthed vocals mixes with what almost sounds like a mega heavy version of mid-period Rush, then there’s an ambient break, mournful Goth vocals and moody melody before things come to a mighty climax. It is archetypal Akercocke performed at the peak of technical ability.

There are 9 songs in total and each one is its own separate adventure, its own unique world. Sometimes cinematic horns and strings join in and saxophone pops in a time or two. Vocals show the range we’ve come to expect from Jason Mendonca…he sounds like everything from a Satanic werewolf to a runner-up to the lead singer for Bauhaus. The record does become more Gothic and moody as it progresses and if you’re looking for straight up brutality, forget it. Last song “A Particularly Cold September” is an absolute joy for lead guitar fans…the soloing is exquisite.

This is one return that lives up to the hype. Heavy metal as art. Don’t miss this masterpiece!