When you’ve read enough metal album reviews, you get used to hearing most reviewers say something like “Although the production could have been a bit cleaner and crisper, I blah blah blah…” Even in some tech-death reviews, you get people moan about the production, as if all the pointless noodling wasn’t audible enough already. Luckily, fans of raw black metal like Montreal’s Akitsa don’t have to worry about this.
It’s this characteristically dirty and lo-fi sound that gives albums like Credo their character and atmosphere: the blistering guitar sound, the tortured growls and shrieks, and the lack of studio trickery like excessive compression. If you hate raw black metal, it’s because of all those things. Likewise, however, if these attributes stir your imagination and awaken that unique sense of rage and exhilaration, you’re hooked for life.
Now to be honest, I’m still not totally accustomed to bits and pieces of their older material. Akitsa is capable of making some seriously vile and oppressive music. I realize this is all part of their artistic vision and underground ethos, but we all have limits that take some time to breach. But on Credo, the band has hit the perfect balance between that ethos and it’s palatable execution. Akitsa’s own statement about the album affirms this sense of balance:
“A critical component for the album, adding clarity to the sound without sacrificing the raw violence that has long characterized Akitsa’s music, is the visceral mixing, mastering, and post-production by revered producer Arthur Rizk.”
It’s a very focused black metal album, albeit with a couple crunchy thrash flourishes here and there. Of course, this focus jettisons some of the band’s dark ambient, death rock and punk influence, or rather integrates them more seamlessly into the sound.
The guitars have just the right amount of gain and brightness to carry the sonic narrative. The drums are tucked into the back of the mix but are used in a way to get your blood pumping at the intended pace. O.T.’s vocals are consistently ripping, but vary in approach from track to track. And as always, the lyrics are dark, bleak and misanthropic. O.T. once addressed the band’s ideas and lyrical outlook in a Noisey interview (I recommend reading the whole interview by the way, as it contains some useful clarifications):
“It was always important for us to be honest in our approach and touch subjects that are close to us. Akitsa is not a theatrical entity; trolls, gargoyles, magicians, centaurs and horny goats living in a dungeon deep in the fiery depths of hell does not interest us. We focus on the real, the black will, the true. The venom of the soul is not esoteric in my opinion.”
There’s certainly a lot of venom to be had on songs like “Le Monde Et Ma Bile,” which you can check out below. Credo is out now via Profound Lore.