Akercocke - Choronzon
Earache Records
Progressive Black/Death Metal
12 songs (54:39)
Release year: 2003
Akercocke, Earache Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Akercocke's third album is a step forwards from The Goat Of Mendes, the Progressive elements taken further, but contains more or less the same number of killer songs, making comparing the two critically difficult. The obvious answer is to get both, and you definitely won't be disappointed with Choronzon. From the lengthy sample which opens the album onwards, the atmosphere is full-on, Satanic madness, and the music itself is excellent, embracing the band’s progressive impulses without forgetting the base extreme metal. Praise The Name Of Satan itself, after the sample, is a Black/Death beatdown that isn’t afraid of experimentalism, from the clean vocals partway through to the melodic guitars and unorthodox structure.

Few would have the guts to place a melodic interlude directly after the opening track, but Akercocke did, and Prince Of The North is a distinctly odd yet strangely grandiose piece, setting the stage for the band’s first bona fide hit, Leviathan. A towering inferno of riffs, the music video for this was where people really began to sit up and take notice of these suited gentlemen, and the fact that it’s one of the band’s best songs helps – really the first time that Akercocke had embraced their technical side without reservation. It’s hard to listen to without being impressed, as it builds upon itself with riffs repeating – without dullness! – before sliding into something different altogether.

From then on, Choronzon is little short of perfection. Mendonça’s voice is better than ever, whether grunting or indulging in one of his awesomely epic clean-sung parts, making everything from the Death Metal excellence of Enraptured By Evil (the guitarists really earning their pay here) to the almost-Doom of the title track, ominous droning that fades in and out before you really know it’s there. I could wax lyrical about the wonderful Prog Metal of Valley Of The Crucified, a melodic touch reaping excellent rewards as, again, an experimental structure makes it a song to be reckoned with.

It’s impossible to praise drummer David Grey too much, as his playing here is full of wonders, his blasts worked perfectly into the surrounding music, and he’s at his best on the underrated Bathykolpian Avatar, a song that hardly ever gets mentioned by anyone, yet which remains one of the finest examples of Progressive Black Metal made to date, incorporating Death Metal without detracting one iota from the intensity or atmosphere, and being catchy without taking away from the fact that each and every listen to it is excellent.

Of the remaining songs, Scapegoat and the epic finale Becoming The Adversary are evil little bastards, real Death Metal scorchers that openly worship at Deicide’s temple of the damned with little original touches of their own, but it’s the wonderful Son Of The Morning that steps up and redefines what it mean to build a song up to a compelling crescendo. It was actually the first Akercocke song that I ever heard, and it’s still amongst their best. To be honest, it’s this song’s presence on the album along with Leviathan and Bathykolpian Avatar which swings it ahead of Goat Of Mendes in my estimation. As good as that album is, Choronzon is the more mature, refined effort, and as a result certainly should not be missed by anyone chronicling the band’s past.

Killing Songs :
Praise The Name Of Satan, Leviathan, Enraptured By Evil, Valley Of The Crucified, Bathykolpian Avatar, Son Of The Morning
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Akercocke that we have reviewed:
Akercocke - Renaissance in Extremis reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Akercocke - Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Akercocke - The Goat Of Mendes reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Akercocke - Rape Of The Bastard Nazarene reviewed by Goat and quoted 58 / 100
Akercocke - Antichrist reviewed by Goat and quoted 91 / 100
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