Sometimes I buy a CD purely on account of reviews I've read. Akercocke's "The Goat of Mendes" is such a one. I do learn from my mistakes, so I listened to the first track as well as another one before I bought. To say that the music was instantly accessible would be quite an untruth, but I figured all those reviewers who literally raved about it couldn't be wrong. They did mention the album grows on you, so I bought the album and have listened to it several times since.

Although the band seem to have found an interesting combination of grindcore, black and perhaps a bit of thrash, I still don't get what all the fuss is about. The album is certainly varied, even if you just concentrate on the vocals. There are deep growls and grunts, there's high-pitched black metal screaming, there's clean vocals, there's the occasional female vocal appearance...it's quite a cocktail. The album is filled with generally long-spun tracks that each feature blast-beat sections, more laid-back parts, and occasional bits that make you think "what the f@&k is going on?!"

On the whole, the album leaves a bit of a chaotic impression on me. It's not as technically chaotic as Meshuggah or Cryptopsy, and I also have the idea that the band members are falling over themselves to sound evil, to appear evil, to be as satanic as they can possibly be, and appear to have things going with goats. "A Skin for Dancing In" is a pretty good track, a bit like Fog (as in the band that emerged from the ashes of Fear of God), with some goth influences. "Betwixt Iniquitatis and Prostigiators" is a track much in the vein of Celtic Frost's "Danse Macabre" (only sounding much more up-to-date, and obviously with a way cooler title), "Masks of God" is good and "Ceremony of Nine Angles" (sic?) is the finest track on the album, kindof like an incantation, pretty cool.

"The Goat of Mendes" suffers from a production that isn't really at a par with some of the stuff out there. The toms and snares are usually too loud, and the production as a whole seems somehow a little out of kilter. Having said that, it's nothing like the transistor radio quality that some 'true' black metal bands seem to want to use (or used to want to use, anyway). It's just not as good as it might have been.

I'd like to spend a bit on the multimedia section as well: A video clip accompanying "Infernal Rites", basically consisting of guys drinking blood, a set of mammaries being stroked, people getting into and out of BMWs and some strobe effects.

Undeniably, such as is proudly stated on the sticker attached to the case, Akercocke is one of the most evil sounding bands in extreme music today. But is that, as such, enough reason to buy this album? I am not sure.



Written August 2001


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