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Monday, 4 September 2017

Reviews: Akercocke, Alpha Tiger, Archelon (Reviews By Rich)

Akercocke: Renaissance In Extremis (Peaceville Records)

Ten years on and we finally have a new Akercocke album to feast our ears upon. In the time since the release of their previous album 2007's Antichrist we have seen Akercocke disband and the members go on to form various other bands such as Voices and The Antichrist Imperium. Despite the high quality of these new projects fans such as myself never quite got over the sudden disbandment of Akercocke and have been clamouring for their return so it was a glorious day indeed when the band decided announced their reformation last year. After a string of festival appearances and shows to whet our appetite finally in 2017 we have the sixth Akercocke album Renaissance In Extremis. It's always a bit of a worry when a band reforms and releases a new album though thankfully there is no need to worry with Akercocke as Renaissance In Extremis is an extremely fine album.

 It very much feels like the natural follow up to Antichrist with the band further extending their progressive blackened death metal sound. This is easily the most progressive and technical album the band have done to date further building on the eccentricities and avant garde leanings displayed on previous albums. This album has plenty of bite as well with some truly vicious riffs, the rabid vocals of Jason Mendoca and the percussion pyrotechnics of drummer extraordinaire David Gray laying wastes to the listeners senses. The high point of the album definitely comes halfway through with the trio of songs First To Leave The Funeral, Familiar Ghosts and A Final Glance Back Before Departing being some of the finest material ever recorded by Akercocke. Renaissance In Extremis is a stunning return for Akercocke that whilst looking back and taking elements from their previous records also very much looks to the future and sends the band into even more progressive and avant garde territories. Another fine album from the UK extreme metal scene in 2017. 8/10

Alpha Tiger: S/T (SPV)

Alpha Tiger is the self titled fourth album by these German metallers and it is also the first album to feature new vocalist Benjamin Jaino following the abrupt departure of previous vocalist Stephan Dietrich in 2015. I haven't heard any previous Alpha Tiger albums so cannot compare to what they have previously released but the music on this album is very much in the vein of classic hard rock and heavy metal. Strong melodies are carried throughout by the impressive vocals of Benjamin Jaino. and there's a proto-metal feel throughout the album helped by the highly enjoyable hammond organ. 

Some of the songs are a little pedestrian and forgettable but when this album hits its stride it's hard not to take notice with songs such as the beautiful Aurora, the Western tinged Welcome To Devil's Town and epic closer The Last Encore all impressing. Alpha Tiger have released an enjoyable album which has some forgettable moments but also makes you sit up and take notice when it hits its high points. 7/10

Archelon: I//II (FHED)

Archelon are a progressive sludge band from Sheffield and this release is a compilation of their two EP's now conveniently packaged together in one release through the Cardiff based FHED label. The music on this compilation varies depending on the EP they are sourced from. The first half of the release is the I EP which is a hulking mammoth of desolate and foreboding sludge metal which rains out your speakers like hammers. The second half is the II EP which is a more relaxed and introspective with it's gentle atmospheric melodies and clean vocals which slowly build up to a crushing display of sludge metal riffage. This is a nice collection of Archelon's recorded output to date with the second half of the album definitely outshining the first. The music on here is not groundbreaking by any means but is an enjoyable piece of atmospheric sludge metal. 7/10

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