Sound — 9
Acolyte is an English band, hailing from the great city of Manchester, but the interesting bit is, of course, the fact that they play an elusive subgenre of extreme metal called "progressive black metal". Yes you heard right progressive black metal. Acolyte's "Leng" EP is a magnificent example of what is in the minds many almost an oxymoron, they retain a couple key features of black metal like tremolo picked riffs and shrieks however they are utilized in fairly unconventional manner, at least for the standard variety of black metal. The 21 minute long EP has three songs and as you might imagine the songs are quite long but unlike what you might think. For an example you might think that they are cramped full of long sustained chords over a 4/4 measure and then repeated a countless times, in reality these three songs full justify their length because they simply stay interesting. The usage of tremolo picked riffs is relatively limited, in fact most riffs are based on either a arpeggio pattern or a chugging (pardon the expression) low register type, or sometimes the combination of the two or all three. Acolyte also incorporate a lot of melodies, which are simple but profound. These melodies are dominated by minor and diminished scales, but when I say diminished I don't mean that they just go for the semitone intervals and make it sound chromatic rather than diminished. To compliment the melodies the drummer uses unconventional rhythms, rarely seen in black metal, there are no blast beat as they would impede the overall smooth rhythm of the songs and even the usual double bass drumming is scarce. The most unconventional drumming can be found in the interlude of the title song, "Leng". 1. "The Ashenground" is the opener and the most accessible song on the EP and it best showcases the band's direction. The songs starts of slowly and then slowly, section by section the tempo picks up, and with it the intensity of riffs. This culminates towards the 4 minute mark. 2. "Leng" is the song that sells the whole concept, or at least for me. It opens with a riff which is more in the vain of classic or hard rock and then goes through a succession of a bit more standard death/black/extreme metal riffs. Then at abut 3:00 we have build for pure black metal section that last for only short while before the song enters a Opeth-like soft Jazz section. And Acolyte make this 9 minute song work. 3. "Sunrise" can be described as a combination of the intensity of "The Ashengrounds" and complexity of "Leng". It also has a semi-clean guitar section but here it is more doom than anything else.The song certainly has its moments but after the onslaught of the first two tracks it seems to be a mellow, chill track.
Lyrics — 7
The vocals on "Leng" are raspy but also very deep, for shrieks that is. Their intensity is matched only by the awkwardness of their placement in the mix. This is not a new problem in the world of extreme metal, it has been here since the very beginning. Of course the guitars, the bass and the drums are often the centerpiece of a song when it comes to mixing, and the vocals are often just under-produced (badly recorded among other things) and then just slapped on. The same unfortunately has happened here and the vocals rarely get to shine out of what is otherwise a very dynamic production.
Overall Impression — 8
Acolyte are obviously influenced Enslaved and by the newer wave of Avant-garde black metal like Deathspell Omega and this can be heard right away, in itself not a bad thing but a band should always seek to surpass their initial influences. That remains to be seen, at least until a full length. "Leng" is definitely not for the black metal fanatics, it's aimed more for the progheads. Tracks to recommend: all three. They are available for streaming or download at their homepage.