In 2012 the metal world mourned the loss of everyone’s favourite demonic extreme metallers when AKERCOCKE called it a day. A few years passed and we had all just about managed to cope with the void they left in the scene when in 2016 they teased something was afoot when their cryptic “The Monkey Is Out of The Cage” message began to surface on various media platforms. Soon after we came to learn that founding members Jason Mendonça, Paul Scanlan and David Gray had plans in the works with newly recruited bassist Nathanael Underwood in tow. Their triumphant return was reaffirmed by their Bloodstock Festival appearance and the announcement they were working on new material which would become part of their sixth studio album Renaissance In Extremis due to be released on August 25th via Peaceville Records.
Opening track Disappear sets the tone as it immediately strides head first into blastbeats and high tempo guitarwork followed by the beautifully savage signature growls of Jason Mendonça. As the band get in full flow with intricate solo’s aplenty you already get the impression the band have not lost a step sounding more polished and clinical than ever as the pace changes frequently with an almost thrash metal like shredding section. Now your appetite is sufficiently re-engaged Unbound By Sin welcomes you with extravagant tapping and short snappy vocal passages perfectly intertwined with a melodic chorus and despite the guitar work being feverishly paced it has a very upbeat and optimistic vibe which provides for a very intriguing listening experience.
As Renaissance In Extremis progresses Insentience displays a briefly solemn introduction before firing into prominent quirky bass lines and an eerie undertone accompanied by vintage blood curdling screams as the death metal ferocity of old begins to seep through the cracks and First To Leave The Funeral treads a similar path with its almost circus like eccentricity in the initial stages before progressing into a more reminiscent style amalgamation of bone jarringly heavy riff work topped off with pummelling blast beats. One of the most fascinating and captivating aspects of AKERCOCKE‘s previous iterations has always been the sheer range of emotions that Jason can portray as he glides effortlessly between thunderous growls, piercingly savage shrieks and what almost sounds like agonising cries of fragility and this is displayed in abundance which only further intensifies the ongoing chaos.
Familiar Ghosts has an immersive almost soothing presence which begins to slow down the pace with it’s tranquil vibe and impactful drumming as their progressive nature starts to shine through. As the song advances it becomes more sinister with ominous synths and section of chilling spoken narrative. A Final Glance Before Departing and One Chapter Closing To Begin Another follow suit with elaborate but inviting guitarwork combined with sadistic growls and skull crushingly meticulous drumming from the imperious David Gray.
As the album draws to a close Inner Sanctum provides a little more of what brought AKERCOCKE such prestige and high regard with their alluring verse compositions as well as hypnotically complex tapping passages, before luring you into a false sense of security with an almost IRON MAIDEN like intro to A Particularly Cold September giving you the impression the tempo may be winding down but you soon find yourself immersed in a sea of bewildering aggression entwined with portions of flamboyant instrumental offerings.
The period of dormancy to re-evaluate has clearly paid dividends for AKERCOCKE as they have developed and evolved into an incredibly diverse entity, the layers and textures on show in Renaissance In Extremis are rich and inviting if not a little intense at times. It is definitely an album which will take a lot of nurturing and your full attention to appreciate the magnitude of complexity which each song brings to the table. They may have laid their more diabolic material of previous albums to rest but this by no means signifies they are ‘going soft’ or seeking a more accessible route. Renaissance In Extremis takes a completely different approach to anything they have attempted before but still maintains its own visceral level of aggression and the 4 piece now appear to have a completely revitalized vision on their long term goals which is a very exciting prospect for the future.
Renaissance In Extremis is set for release on August 25th via Peaceville Records.
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