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SELECTED AND DE SELECTED

AKERCOCKE

‘Renaissance In Extremis’

PEACEVILLE

The last ten years of inactivity from the Akercocke camp has given us time to realise just how innovative they were – and not just in their dress sense. Yes, Akercocke pedalled an anti- Christ, pro-Satan message we’ve heard a thousand times before, but their Satanism was less about shock posturing and more like a genuine, considered philosophical position, combined with a slightly tongue-in-cheek approach to anti-Christian clichés. Meanwhile, the band’s eroticism was a change from the usually sexless world of death metal, and was another marker of the band being a bit more complex and, dare we say it, mature than most metal bands. Musically, Akercocke could do everything from Neurosis-like grandeur to being as pummelling and no-frills as Cannibal Corpse – often in the same song.

It’s therefore very pleasing to say the least satisfying thing about ‘Renaissance In Extremis’ is the rather too on-the-nose title (come on, they might as well have called it ‘Death Metal Comeback Album’). Musically, this is perhaps a more reflective and less ferocious Akercocke than previously – but don’t fret, they’re not a soft rock band yet. The riffs, courtesy of returning original guitarist Paul Scanlan, are thrashier than ever before, and by gum are there some shredding guitar solos – Scanlan and vocalist/guitarist Jason Mendonça have clearly been practicing their scales and arpeggios. David Gray doesn’t blast for Satan quite as viciously as before, but he remains among extreme metal’s more inventive drummers. There’s perhaps less black metal spookiness than there used to be in the band’s sound, but there’s still plenty of what might be called ‘prog’ – a nine-minute song (‘A Particularly Cold September’) featuring brass and tympani, anyone? Despite the subtleties, ‘Renaissance…’ is still extreme metal through and through. Mendonça deploys the ‘frustrated gorilla’ death metal growl and ‘enraged cat’ black metal shriek fans will know from previous albums, but ‘Renaissance…’ also sees him singing more than ever before. Mendonça’s singing was always Akercocke’s secret weapon, allowing them to explore textures and moods that other death metal bands couldn’t – it’s not many extreme metal bands who could be described as ‘subtle’ or ‘nuanced’.

Which brings us to the biggest change from the Akercocke of old: the lyrics. Gone are the hymns to Satan and sex, to be replaced by something more emotional. We wouldn’t want to speculate as to the band’s private lives, but the lyrics suggest mourning the loss of someone, either through a relationship ending or bereavement. Such heartfelt and profound sentiments might be a bit much for some listeners, but that just shows how formulaic the ‘extremity’ of so much metal is. After all, what’s more genuinely scary: cartoon demons, or being emotionally inextricable from a person, and then losing them? More surprising still is the positivity of some of the other tracks, such as ‘Unbound By Sin’.

‘Renaissance…’ is both emotionally and musically complex in a way that extends beyond most other heavy metal. It won’t be for everyone, but Akercocke’s vision of a ‘grown up’ extreme metal that’s still extreme is quite extraordinary.

CHELSEA WOLFE

‘Hiss Spun’

SARGENT HOUSE

The trajectory that Chelsea Wolfe’s sound has taken since the beginning of her musical career has been an interesting one to watch; from the experimental murk of ‘The Grime And The Glow’ to the heavy pseudo-doom of ‘Abyss’, no two releases have ever really sounded the same, while still retaining that unmistakable Chelsea Wolfe vibe. ‘Hiss Spun’ sees her cast her creative net out yet further still, harnessing the production talents of Converge’s Kurt Ballou for what is without a doubt her heaviest release to date.

Right from the opening bars of first track ‘Spun’, the guitars are devastatingly loud, carrying a denseness that could place this release in a metal subgenre. Ex-Isis frontman Aaron Turner’s vocals make a cameo appearance on third song ‘Vex’, his distinctive, throaty roar carrying alongside Chelsea’s floaty, dulcet tones to create goosebumps on the skin of all those who listen. The album also features guitar contributions by Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens Of The Stone Age, however, his playing style is subtle and very much adapted to the dynamic of the record, so his presence doesn’t detract attention away from the vocals or the suspenseful atmosphere. Instead, Van Leeuwen compliments the instrumentals, adding yet another thick layer to an already impossibly dark and brooding opus.

WE HIT A WALL

CHELSEA WOLFE ON ‘HISS SPUN’S THEMES

“The album is cyclical, like me and my moods. Cycles, obsession, spinning, centrifugal force – all with gut feelings as the center of the self. I’m at odds with myself… I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way. I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality.”

This is undeniably Chelsea’s greatest triumph to date and it’s refreshing to see an artist embrace new elements within their sound with each album, without forgetting the roots of what put them where they are in the first place.

ANGELA DAVEY

ACCEPT

‘The Rise Of Chaos’

NUCLEAR BLAST

Historic bonafides aside, Accept has certainly been on a roll since the 2009 addition of vocalist Mark Tornillo. ‘The Rise Of Chaos’ is the fourth with the TT Quick frontman’s sandpapery snarl up front and an undeniable display of vitality after what seems like 200 years and 100 albums. Their fifteenth fulllength may present more melodically than the previous Tornillo recordings, but the vat of riffs from which Peter Baltes and Wolf Hoffmann tuck into appears to be bottomless. There are a couple of lyrical palm-meetsface moments in ‘Koolaid’ and ‘Analog Man’ – though the latter is destined to be a live favourite – but the balls are still firmly pressed against the wall.

[7] KEVIN STEWART-PANKO

ATROX

‘Monocle’

DARK ESSENCE

DARK ESSENCE

Norway’s Atrox are a progressive band taking elements of industrial and symphonic metal with a theatrical approach. ‘Monocle’ is their first album in nine years. Fans lamented the departure of vocalist Monika Edvardsen, replaced with male singer Rune Folgerø, who seems to be channeling a Faith No More-era Mike Patton style voice. Atrox are sounding much more streamlined here, with the mainstream potential of opener ‘Mass’ falling really flat. However, some of the harder and wilder cuts like ‘Vacuum’ and ‘Movie’ do shine with some charm. Ultimately ‘Monocle’ is the sound of a band trying out new things, but the results are rather muddled. Fans of catchy and commercial industrial rock might dig it.

[5] CHRIS ‘FRENCHIE’ FRENCH

BIG|BRAVE

‘Ardor’

SOUTHERN LORD

Third album from Montreal trio BIG|BRAVE is an exercise in stark and unsettling beauty. 43 minutes split across just three tracks see vocalist Robin Wattie stretch her voice into a haunting lullaby across the mesmeric instrumental soundscapes created by Mathieu Ball and Louis-Alexandre Beauregard. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s Jessica Moss lends her violin to all three songs on the album, further adding to the overt mystique and dreamy atmosphere. The enormous sound conjured up on this release is magnified further by the use of Thierry Amar’s (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) contrabass. A truly breath taking record that’s every bit as bold as it is ethereal.

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About Terrorizer Magazine

Every month when it comes to writing this editorial, I sit back and tot up how many new records I’ve listened to in the time we’ve worked on getting this bad boy to the printers, and then I contemplate just how many more we’ve got to sift through for the upcoming issues as well. I literally lose count every time and for that I’m thankful. Never does it stop being fun listening to music each and every day. For me, Terrorizer also gives an opportunity for some of those bands to talk about their creations and the stories behind them. These are aspects that to me are as equally as important as the music itself. The written word can then bring those stories to life and that, in essence, is the importance of magazines and why they are still relevant in a social media driven world. Life isn’t just a soundbite or a meme and neither is music, so being able to share the stories behind Myrkur’s stunning new album or the dark, personal journey behind Akercocke’s brilliant ‘comeback’ album is vital. I hope you enjoy reading the features as much as I did when they landed in my inbox. Alongside those two pieces, as always there’s a fuck load of awesome bands featured and the odd controversial review to boot. It’s been a blast to create the issue and we’re already hard at work at the new one so we’ll see you very soon! Stay tuned. Darren Sadler