Album Review: Akercocke - Choronzon
Released: November 4th, 2003
Review: December 21st 2016 by DoomMaster
With the array of tit-and-goat laden album covers leading up to and including Choronzon, Akercocke leave little room for interpretation concerning the music played and the message conveyed. But, as much fun as vanilla Satan-blathering black metal can be, Akercocke's masterful blending of genres creates an atmosphere and depth that most bands of their likeness can only dream of. Black, death, and progressive sounds interweave so seamlessly you'll forget they're playing an amalgamation of three genres, but rather one refined genre the band can call their own.
The album opens with a rather fitting sample from Hammer House of Horror before a snare roll into the meat of Akercocke's sound here. The strange soft dissonant guitar notes and synth present in "Praise The Name Of Satan" only add to the sinister quality of black metal passages and crunchy death metal riffs of the album opener. Shortly after, "Leviathan" contrasts the extremety of the first track with a progressive passage that effortlessly maintains their dark, satanic atmosphere with vocalist Jason Mendonça showcasing his range by portraying a mad practitioner of the occult as he becomes one with the beast. The calm albeit operatic vocals become more frantic as the track continues, but never venture into the realms of his extreme metal growls and shrieks he spews elsewhere on the album. Jason's often overly-dramatic cleans can be a bit tough to get into at first, but perfectly convey the absurdity of the subject matter and only add to the enigmatic feel.
Akercocke boast that they are completely self-taught as musicians but any imperfections that may be apparent in performance are negligible as the character of the album will carry the listener through the unpredictable ritual. The drumming of David Gray is particularly excellent, with standard rapid-firing double kicks and snare blasts abound played at impressive speed, but he also manages to diversify frequently on a whim. Since Choronzon features such an array of different genres, the guitarists had to bring a lot of ideas to the table in order to effectively represent each aspect of their sound. Luckily, being self-taught must have paid dividends in this regard as each riff feels deliberate and nothing sounds forced. The synth is relatively primitive and is used often but seems completely necessary considering the sexualized mysticism of the album.
Perhaps the only flaw of the album is the lack of any real musical climax. Instrumental interludes are sandwiched between the full-length tracks, as well as the outro, which left me feeling a sense of incompleteness on first listens. As much as I'd love to dive into each track, the abstractness of the songwriting on Choronzon limits me for the sake of brevity. It is an absolutely impenetrable album and difficult to sum as a whole. Only upon listening (many times) are its mysteries revealed, and even then they may seem just as cryptic as the unholy writings themselves.