At the threshold of its 20-year anniversary, Akitsa presents Credo, the band’s most focused, furious and hypnotic album to date. Throughout its history, the band has operated unconstrained, willing, and capable of simultaneously exploring divergent paths. The accretion of Akitsa’s sprawling array of influences finds its most comprehensive expression on this album. Musically, O.T. handled the writing for the album, and there is a compositional coherence to it, despite the shifting moods of the tracks. The lyrics, however, were a shared endeavor; O.T. furnished the lyrics for two tracks (“Espoire Vassal” and “Vestiges Fortifiés”), as did Néant (“Le Monde Est Ma Bile” and “Credo”). Additionally, longtime Akitsa associate Valnoir (best known as a high-profile visual artist and designer) provided lyrics for another track (“Voies Cataclysmiques”). The surprise drum programming on the title track, from none other than Kris Lapke of cult industrial enigma Alberich, brings a barbaric strength to the intro of the title track. 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.
Credo opens with “Siécle Pastoral,” which begins with a driving, mid-paced riff before shifting into more tortured territory as O.T. delivers the lyrics—actually, a poem by the 18th century French poet, Jean-Baptiste-Louis Gresset—in anguished howls. Like the opening track, there is a mercurial aspect to the entire album; it vacillates between epic and agonizing melodies and combative martial stomps. Akitsa’s ability to execute controlled shifts in tempo, atmosphere, and style is at its zenith on this recording, but as with all of Akitsa’s material, the band unapologetically meditates on extreme repetition building tension to the point of inner coldness.
Consistent with this pattern, the album’s second track, “Voies Cataclysmiques,” is a physical attack. Its forceful belligerence stands in contrast to the more atmospheric, melody-laden sound of the ten-minute album opener, as well as the track that follows, “Le Monde Est Ma Bile,” which showcases the band’s propensity for the slow unfolding of sorrowful melodies. Following is “Espoir Vassal,” a vicious track featuring soaring, agonizing riffs with hints of Norwegian influence, which gives way to the frenzied and tense “Vestiges Fortifiés” complete with the signature choral mourning intro that harkens back to the youthful spirit of Goetie. The album closes with the title track, bearing nearly all of the most salient elements that define Akitsa’s work to date. Spread across nearly ten triumphant minutes, proving the versatile depth of this singular horde, Néant’s lyrics, bellowed out in French by O.T., are a pure manifestation of poetic nihilism. The track, like the album as a whole, is arguably the metric by which Akitsa will long be recognized. That a band would produce its finest work so deep into an already sensational career is an undeniably rare achievement in metal, and in Akitsa’s case, it is a testament to the band’s tenacity and versatility.
After three years of total silence from Akitsa—the band’s longest dormant phase—Credo is a culmination of the band’s catalog and rise in cult status and arguably the finest representation of its pure underground devotion.
Profound Lore Records (Canada), 2018.