The Antichrist Imperium features Akercocke and The Berzerker members in equal numbers amongst their ranks, and with the release of second album Volume II: Every Tongue Shall Praise Satan (Apocalyptic Witchcraft) it seems that team Akercocke is determined to show that they’re on one hell of a creative roll at the minute. Like their other projects, there’s that unmistakable Akercocke tone woven throughout; they’re clearly confident and comfortable with each other as musicians and are free to experiment.
Right from opening track ‘The Dreadful Hosanna’, The Antichrist Imperium set their stall out effectively with some solid Thrash-meets-Death Metal riffing from Matt Wilcock and finds David Gray blasting for Satan once more, which all continues into the particularly satisfying ‘Death Ritual’, which showcases Sam Bean’s growling guttural vocals dripping with enough menace to get the point across.
The raspy vocals and very ‘Verdelet’-esque sound of ‘Draw Down The Moon’ is a potent mix, at times there’s the minor feeling that some of the more progressive passages might be just a bit too long but that’s fleeting and soon swept away with sublime riffing and spectacular solo’s. ‘Liturgy of the Iconoclast’ opens with clean melodic vocals and sees the album turning to a more measured approach, building gradually and effectively before more Death Metal fury. By this point it’s incredibly obvious just how tight a unit this band is, taking every twist and turn in the well-crafted song-writing in their stride.
‘Ceremonial Suicide Rites’, continues the formula of interspersing mellower progressive elements and breakneck passages, but also introduces some interesting electronic elements to the mix. Final track ‘Sermon of Small Faith’ is another measured slow build before leaving us on a high with some almost spiritual riffing, and a low bass rattle reminiscent of Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Death Metal, admiring the single-minded precision of the bludgeoning music yet being turned off by the simple-minded nature of a lot of it. When a band manages to take a more cerebral approach, then it clicks for me, and Antichrist Imperium manage that balance very well indeed. World class drumming, solid riffing and some ridiculously good solos combined with an effective dual vocal attack from the two Sam’s shared with thoughtful composition mean that this is a cut above the rest.