Review Summary: Akercocke mature significantly with this stellar release.
Akercocke have always been a band to grab attention, and not much has changed in that aspect. Whether it is with their eccentrically dark lyrical themes or simply exceptional musicianship, they prove to stand out. Yet, they seem to have dropped one of those aberrant characteristics with this release, that being the lyrical themes. However, this is the same Akercocke that split up after the release of 'Antichrist', and that fact is absolutely glorious.
Immediately, the record signifies the fact that the band has not strayed askew from their signature blend of Black Metal and Death Metal with Progressive Rock influences. Polar opposites in beauty and abhorrence collide and intertwine in a masterful fashion, which truly is something to behold. Spectacularly melodic guitar solos regularly ease their way into the sheer chaos crafted by the band, giving the sensation of simultaneously being soothed and crushed. These harsher Blackened Death Metal sections assuredly subjugate the first half of the album, whilst the more Progressive Rock influenced tone dominates the latter.
One particular strongpoint of the album is of usual fashion for the band, that being the vocal performance. A trademark assortment of deep growls, mid-ranged growls and clean vocals are peppered rather evenly throughout the duration of the record, producing a true sense of variety. It is without question that this facet assures the listener is not rendered stultified by the lack of diversity, and is instead somewhat kept on their toes, whilst listening for the next curveball to be thrown their way.
As previously mentioned, this album is split into two differing sections. The first, more abrasive section of the record poses as the more captivating, as it displays more variety. Blast beats are often morphed into more mid paced beats in a matter of seconds, while being polished with melodic guitar riffs and clean singing. The second section does carry this assortment of techincal aspects, but does not utilise them as much, and proves to be of a more linear structure. Whilst this predominantly softer section is an eminently enjoyable listen, it is just not as gripping as the more infernal display.
From this, comes an ultimately outstanding performance that truly showcases this band's plethora of skill, which has thankfully not dissipated over the time they remained inactive. However, If that second section was more variable in its sound, then this album could have been much greater, which is a veritable shame. So, whilst 'Renaissance in Extremis' does not prove to be a monumental release, it is still of a toweringly high quality and proves to be another brilliantly crafted release in the discography of Akercocke, which will please fans of old and new.