Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.


With Mortician, Vehemence, and Manticore. Wednesday, October 20, at the Agora Theatre.

  • Akercocke
Numerous long shadows fall across Akercocke's latest album, Choronzon, including Metallica's Master of Puppets, Opeth's Blackwater Park, and the Current 93 school of drawing-room satanism. This could bode well -- or poorly. It all depends on who's working with the source material. Akercocke, four Anglo-Saxon agents of Satan who have the good sense to wear natty matching suits, narrowly miss being boring by providing an object lesson in the difference between immersion and engagement.

Maybe devil worship doesn't do the trick for you the way it used to; certainly, the bugaboos of our present age are less abstract and more immediately threatening. Still, when all the i's and t's are dotted and crossed as effectively as they sometimes are here, it's hard not to love Old Scratch. Choronzon enlists every available ally in its stab at high heresy: Exotic-sounding horns peal over its instrumental breakdowns, and huge, hideous chords laid over thrashward-glancing blast beats weave structure from discord. The metal-specific tropes that make you either love or hate the genre are abundant: Every song is an ambitious exercise in gravitas, most switching time signatures once or twice before accelerating madly and skidding to a stop. The vocals alternate between reverbed screeching and old-school goth crooning, the former being generally more effective than the latter.

The result of all this is great, just as long as it resists succumbing to spoken intervals, which it can't always. Oddly, Choronzon functions best when the band seems less focused on its theme and more intent on just kicking out the jams: The "Sataaaaan!" shriek that concludes "Scapegoat" works precisely because it's little more than an exclamation point sealing off what's been a chalkboard-scraping monster of a song. There, as in "Enraptured by Evil," the band sounds truly lost in the moment, and when that happens, Ackercocke raises goosebumps. Spoken intervals only remind us that we're listening to people like ourselves, when what we really want from our satanists is the feeling that they're in league with the Dark Powers Beyond. It's what these guys don't say that keeps people in suspense.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Previews

Latest in Livewire

More by John Darnielle

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Kiry Shabazz @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Jan. 27
  • Soul Message Band Featuring Chris Foreman @ Bop Stop

    • Fri., Jan. 28
  • The Gershwins on Broadway @ Maltz Performing Arts Center at Case Western Reserve University

    • Fri., Jan. 28

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation