Originally written by Ramar Pittance
Another album of compelling death influenced black metal from Akercocke that ultimately rewards listeners willing to deal with its somewhat erratic pacing…
Is this a concept album? I can’t tell for sure. I’d place pretty hefty stakes on the band never owning up to testing such an antiquated endeavor, even if it were true. Regardless, what we have here is a clearly thematically driven album. I say album in the traditional sense, meaning a collection of songs that function as a whole rather than a series of singles. And, in turn, the listener will get a lot more out of this album by listening to it in full, multiple times, with an attentive and calculating ear. I know, spare us…
But writing off Akercocke’s Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone as another piece of pretentious art metal would be a bit hasty and unfair. To begin with, their sound remains firmly entrenched in traditional death and black metal and is executed with a modern drive to push each genre forward. What results is the rare kind of album that is hard to pin down to a certain time period, and is actually progressive without relying on self indulgent wankery. What will make this a not-so worthwhile endeavor for listeners’ with a less intrepid ear is the meticulous premeditation that’s gone into its construction. If you’re looking for an album that pays off in an abundance of memorable riffs, then this album is entirely not for you. What Akercocke’s craftsmanship has yielded is the kind of masterpiece that requires the audience to take a few steps back to really grasp its entire scope.
“Verdelet” and “Seduced” were excellent choices to open the album. Each clocking in under five minutes and conforming to more traditional compositional standards, these breathtaking displays of potential are the bait that will lure the listener into the slightly more obtuse material that will follow. The brief melodic lead that shows up a few minutes into “Verdelet” or the succinct pounding of the bridge in “Seduced” are the kind of moments that made me look up from whatever else it was that I was doing and give my attention to the band. More importantly, they made me go back and re-listen to the entire song to see what I missed.
“Shelter From the Sand” is the pivotal song on the album where the listener can either choose to dive in or tune out. It’s also where the pacing gets a little lumpy. Putting the nearly 10 minute track in the clean-up spot might not have been the brightest idea, especially considering the strength and heft of the two that preceded it. “Shelter” is a builder of a track that goes through a series of sections of varying intensity before seemingly petering out into a 70s prog-style synth section. Here’s where Ackercocke’s conception of how this album should really work as a whole pays off. “Eyes of The Sun” comes blasting through the gates as a furious and concise coda to the more meandering “Shelter.” The middle part of the album witnesses a return to the more straightforward presentation of the first two tracks. “Intractable” is where things get really interesting, with the band sporting the loose comfortability and acerbic edge found on Mastodon’s earlier work. The transition is very subtle, but the trade off between booming chord progressions and bleating arpeggio’s is executed with same sort of hazy-eyed fluidity as songs like “Trainwreck” or “Trilobite” found on Remission.
Closer “Lex Talionis” wraps things up on a subdued note, functioning as a well placed breather after the straight-forward death metal tunes that made up the latter part of the album. The restraint shown by drummer David Gray here is impressive. While perhaps a slightly anti-climactic way to round things out, “Lex Talionis” continues the recurring theme found throughout Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone; creating a sense that there is always something lurking behind every unexplored corner.
As a reviewer, I’m forced to give albums a fair shake. You, the listener, have no such obligation. But, if you feel compelled to tackle one of 2006’s more challenging releases, then here’s your album. It develops on its own terms and at its own pace, without insulting the listener by straying too far from what makes death and black metal actually work.