Akercocke - The Goat of Mendes
Formed by Jason Mendecona and David Gray after the split of their previous band, Salem Orchid, Akercocke didn't take long to make a name for themselves. Their brand of black/death metal driven by sex, lust and perversion is both sickening and enticing beyond comprehension. With a range of vocal techniques and styles of music, Akercocke are an intresting band to say the least. 2001 saw the release of their second full length album, The Goat of Mendes
, building alot on their previous effort, Rape of the Bastard of Nazarene
The album starts off with a tremelo picked riff like a typical black metal album, but then we hear a growl instead of a scream. The music following this point is pure death metal, with the gutteral growls we've come to expect of death metal. But the great thing is, they don't limit themselves to this. There are frequent changes in voice, the deep gutteral growls, the screaming and even clean, operatic singing. The screaming is unbelievably good, the growls are top-notch, but I'm not such a big fan of some of the clean vocals. The drumming is technically good and quite intresting with some of the variations on the typical beats. The guitars are exectued well and there are plenty of good riffs of both the black and death metal variety. The bass also handles itself well providing some nice compliments to the guitar work. There are orchestral instruments used on the instrumentals here aswell that give the album a nice touch.
A strong theme throughout this album is the repressed sexual urges of christian nuns. The album on the whole is, well, sexual. There are samples of someone having an orgasm in the first song, there are straight to the point lyrics about sexual urges held by these nuns (I won't quote incase of offending anyone). The aura of the album is one of a twisted, perverted kind, whilst carrying the usual evil atmosphere synonymous with black metal.
The fourth song, 'Horns of Baphomet' starts off with an eerie, haunting riff at a slow tempo with some excellent screaming over the top. Clean vocals are used after this, which provides a nice effect but I don't really like the voice used. There's even a unison between the clean/harsh vocals which sounds awesome before an atmospheric melody that takes the listener on a journey to the cold, winter woods on a dark, frosty night. The song soon takes on a more death metal feel with a faster tempo and growling ensues. A fast lead playing sequences is used aswell which demonstrates Paul Scanlan's ability on his instrument. The song cycles back towards black metal with some seemingly atonal riffing and odd rhythmic feel underneath some shreiked vocals. Then it's back to black metal with some fast double bass work and growled vocals, leading into a syncopated riff that serves as an introduction to the creative solo work of Paul Scanlan. After the solo, Jason Mendencona whispers to 'look through his eyes' over a really intresting riff, there's also some harmonic dissonance which adds to the eerie effect. Again, it heads back towards death metal and the harnominzed riffing adds a nice touch, leading into a section that sounds like Chuck Schuldiner accompanying a slightly more coherent Lord Worm.
Another great song is the closer, 'Ceremony of Nine Angels'. Strating off with a haunting clean riff and a rather funky bassline, before the syncopated guitar joins in and the atmosphere is built up. The section following has a really great riff and the usual excellent vocal work of Jason Mendencona. The music is pretty fast and the guitars are tremelo picking in typical black metal fashion. There are some clean vocals used as a contrast to the harsh shrieks, and then even some female vocals (which is used in unison with the screaming and sounds awesome). Another transition, this time towards death metal follows, and the whole spectrum of vocals are used to great effect here. The song soon fades away and in places comes some atmospheric black metal building up. The drumming playing in compound time over the guitars simple chord hits provides a nice touch and carries into a death metal section nicely. A range of vocals are used, some harsh spoken parts which give great effect over the ever-changing music. The solo is fast but doesn't really indulge too much as it is short. A particularly evil-sounding black ensues before once more transiting into death metal. Atmospheric keyboards and clean guitar are used to build atmopshere at the end and compliment the uptempo black metal madness well. The music stops with the spoken words 'Thou are my master, Satan' leaving us with nothing but feedback from the guitars and a craving for more.
I seriously can't praise this enough, one of the best albums in a long time. If you can withstand sexual themes and explicit lyrics in your music, buy this now. If you like black metal, death metal, or just good, atmospheric music in general pick this one up. If you don't quite trust me and need to hear some songs before you buy it, listen to 'Ceremony of Nine Angels', 'Horns of Baphomet' or 'Infernal Rites'.