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Akroma - 2017 - "Apocalypse: Requiem"

(40:59, Fantai'Zic Productions)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Kyrie 6:23
2. Offertorium 8:02
3. Sanctus 5:39
4. Agnus Dei 6:19
5. Lux Aeterna 6:53
6. In Paradisum 7:43


Alain Germonville - vocals
Matthieu Morand - guitars, keyboards, orchestrations
Laura Kimpe - vocals
Pierre-Yves Martin - bass
Dick Verbeuren - drums
Shuguang Li - piano

Prolusion. French band AKROMA was formed back in 2003, and from their base in Nancy they have released four full length productions since their formation, all of them revolving around Biblical themes. "Apocalypse: Requiem" is the most recent of these, and was released through French Label Fantai'Zic Productions in 2017.

Analysis. Akroma is a band that stands rather firmly inside the metal universe, and at least on this occasion inside the more extreme oriented parts of it at that. While not a band lacking in progressive metal credentials as such, their style and approach will arguably find more favor among an extreme metal crowd than a strictly progressive metal one at that. While their latest production is a fairly short one, it is also a rather intense affair. Hammering rhythms and intense buzzing guitar riffs does tend to dominate the proceedings, in a manner that many extreme metal fans and aficionados of modern black metal will recognize. The alternating lead vocal styles may be a bit divisive, where the main alternations is between a twisted, light toned aggressive snarl and a dark toned, deep guttural growl, with recurring instances of female soprano vocals and occasional occurrences of a more regular, shouted vocal style. The music tends to alternate a bit as well, with the intense extreme metal sections alternating with slower passages with more of a quirky, progressive metal feel to them. Calmer interludes with wandering, plucked guitars or careful keyboard or orchestration elements is also a part of the totality. And as far as the latter is concerned, just about all compositions alternates between a majestic orchestra overlay or layered, atmospheric laden voice effects complementing and contrasting the guitars and rhythms. The band's self description as a symphonic extreme metal bands comes across as rather appropriate, and I rather suspect most people would agree that this definition could and probably should be expanded with the word progressive. The strengths and the weakness of this particular album is that all the contents exists within the boundaries outlined. The relative lack of variation from one track to the next may be a welcome feature for some, while for others this will be perceived as a weakness, as being a bit too one-dimensional. Personally I enjoy this album due to this, especially due to it being such a concise production, but as others may well feel otherwise this aspect does merit a mention.

Conclusion. An extreme metal album revolving around the Catholic mass Requiem isn't the kind of album one encounters all that often, and in my view Akroma's intense, atmospheric laden and progressive take on this, complete with liberal amounts of orchestra arrangements and mood enhancing voice effects, is enjoyable and comes across as a high quality production. The vocals and relative sameness of the material will be somewhat divisive, but if you fancy bands that blends their extreme metal with liberal amounts of symphonic features then this latest album by Akroma is worth checking out.

Progmessor: September 21st, 2017
The Rating Room

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