Something wicked is here and it has been for some time and hopefully will continue to show up in the future. After being awestruck by two debut albums from two relatively new bands hailing from London, UK, it triggered me to have a look at the musicians involved and how they’ve been interacting musically in other bands. The trail can be traced as far back as 1989 to a band called Salem’s Orchid. This write-up won’t go that far back in time but will rather shed light on four London based bands linking the musicians together in servitude of goat adoration and metal mayhem!
All extreme metal scholars have touched upon Akercocke. If not, then now’s your chance for redemption. The band formed in 1997 by longtime friends and music companions Jason Mendonca and David Gray. Through five full-length albums, the band dismissed the rule books and went into a berserker-filled exploration of dark, twisted and progressive songwriting which has made a vital and lasting contribution to the extreme metal evolution. The first time I heard “Leviathan”, I could swear I felt the presence of his infernal majesty breathing down my neck, you couldn’t ask for a more brooding introduction. I became a fan shortly after exploring the band some more and hold “Words That Go Unspoken…” in highest regards. The fact that they played in finer suits posing as the devil’s advocate made them even more interesting. Unfortunately Akercocke disbanded in 2012 and said their wicked goodbyes with the rugged but equally compelling “Antichrist” album.
Other plans had been forming while Akercocke was slowly dissolving and it didn’t take long before drummer baron Gray opted to go forward working with fellow Akercocke members Peter Benjamin and Sam Loynes (live musician) in a new formation simply named Voices. Now this band has taken what Akercocke had started with and propelled it into new gruesome atmospheric depths most horrific. Especially their latest album, titled after its populous, vice-filled homebase of London, has some of the most confronting music you’re likely to encounter.
At the same time of forming Voices, Mr. Gray and another Akercocke member Matt Wilcock (also in The Berzerker) would meet up every Friday night in the studio, complain about work, have a coffee and blast out some metal. The result of these afterwork sessions became what you hear on The Antichrist Imperium’s self-titled debut, released last year. I recently purchased this album and I have to say that this is some vicious death/black goat worship, experimental and brutal at the same time with some peculiar yet intriguing vocals from Sam Loynes, otherwise acting as guitarist in Voices.
The last band I’m going to mention in this poor attempt at an essay on a snapshot of UK extreme metal is Shrines. It is a bit unclear to me as to when master Loynes and his squad have initiated this band, all I know is that their debut album, also self-titled, was released last year as well. Shrines is another great example of the escapism from metropolitan havoc. It has plenty of ravishing death and black metal passages, it even sound strangely close to a blackened version of Gojira at times but has enough of left-field turns in the songwriting. Again, the vocal aspects are intriguing, teasing the psyche of the listener amidst the noise and chaos. A fairly eclectic sound that promises something grand in the future. Check out the album’s prologue “Ariadne’s Thread” below.
To close this essay, I’d like to mention Apocalyptic Witchcraft, a new UK based extreme metal record label. There’s limited info to be found, but I’ve been browsing the roster and there’s some seriously cutting edge artists residing on the label covering a wide spectrum of unconventional sounds. It’s probably wise to mention that both The Antichrist Imperium and Shrines albums have been released by this lot, and also the Australasia album “Notturno”, which I covered last year. I recommend you to check them out, I´m sure you’ll find something of interest by paying them a visit. Check out their website here
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