It was only a matter of time before I covered this one. Akercocke have always been one of those bands. One of those "weird" bands. Over the course of their career, they've helped define the boundaries of extreme metal, and pushed them even further back with each release. But in 2012, they went on an indefinite hiatus. Now, five years after their split, and ten years after their last album, Akercocke return with Renaissance in Extremis. I won't mince words. I don't like it. In fact, I'll go one step further than that; it's a failure as an Akercocke album. In the ten years since Antichrist was released, the musical landscape of extreme metal has changed, and with bands like Portal, Ulcerated and Plebeian Grandstand diving deeper and deeper into the realm of truly horrifying death metal, Akercocke needed to bring their A-game on Renaissance. The sad reality is that in the face of 2017's musical climate, there's nothing on Renaissance in Extremists that's shocking or line-crossing. The album has its share of angular riffs, odd time signatures and gross vocals, but never once did I hear something that I haven't already heard before, and heard done better. Sure the album is competently performed, but that's not why I listen to Akercocke. I listen for the mind-bending, skin crawling experimental death metal of their early days, and that urge to explore new realms of brutality is noticeably absent here. In fact, London, the latest album from Voices (the band spawned from the ashes of Akercocke's apparent demise in 2012) did practically everything this album does, but twice as well. The only difference is, that was two years ago when these ideas were still fresh. Renaissance in Extremis is an expertly written, deftly performed and well-produced album that commits the crime of familiarity in a genre where unpredictability and suspense can quite literally make or break an album. While I'm still happy Akercocke are back, their supposed comeback album is a complete misfire. Hopefully we'll be treated to something scarier next time.