This veteran blackened death act does not waste any time in letting you know what they are about. The title is like a call to arms for their longtime fans and a calling card to attract disenfranchised youth. It also happens to share part of its title with a weak sequel to The Omen. Whatever your affiliation with Acheron is, The Final Conflict: Last Days of God is an intriguing slab of anti-Christian death metal with a raw thrashy edge and a veil of black metal. Whether you agree with their views or not, you will throw your horns up and get into the energy thrown around here.
The band was formed in 1988 by vocalist/bassist Vincent Crowley, and went on to release a number of albums over the past twenty-plus years. During this time Vincent proved he was more than just a front for the anti-Christian wing of death metal. He was ordained a priest in the Church of Satan by Anton LaVey. His views have never wavered over the years; he is as anti-Christian and anti-religion as ever and is still preparing us for the Holy War that is coming.
I cannot say that I agree with his views and I won't. Acheron's lyrical content comes into direct conflict with what I believe and there are likely a lot of people out there who may like this type of music but cannot get past the subject matter. To that end, all I can say is that it does not affect my beliefs. I can listen to it and enjoy it; it does not sway my beliefs in the least. Let him believe what he wants.
All right, enough about that. I am sure you are more interested in the music anyway. Am I right?
I seem to recall coming across this band at some point but cannot claim to have any knowledge of their past output. For all intents and purposes The Final Conflict is my introduction to the decades-old band. It has been a positive if not overwhelming experience. It is an album I can recommend, but it will never challenge for a slot among my favorites.
The Final Conflict begins with the ominously trite sound of an air raid siren (quite original, no?) that goes on for a much too long 50 seconds before blasting you out with some old-school-sounding evil thrash. Don't know evil thrash? This is a good example of it: minor chords played with speed combined with snare, kick drum, and ride cymbal to create a sound of impending doom. The speed gives way to a more traditional metal pace, with time given to a solo before another dose of speed to go along with lyrics heralding the end. The problem is that the song goes on for nearly seven minutes! It begins to get a little repetitious.
The too-long issue is one that threatens the entire album. The majority of the songs land in the five-minute range and considering the straightforward structure of the album, it does not provide enough diversity. I found the songs begin to run into each other after awhile, never knowing where one ended and another begins. For some albums this works to create a seamless album experience that is patently against the single song bites we are being trained for. However, it does not work here, as I have to keep checking to see where I am in the album.
If nothing else, The Final Conflict does not cater to the whims of the audience. Acheron stick to their guns and do what they do best. Whether you like it or not, this is an album that seems to have been completely under the control of the band. Crowley crafted the songs the way he wanted them with little influence from a label or producer. At least it seems that way – I cannot back any of this up with definite knowledge, it is just that the album strikes me as being a bit self-indulgent and long-winded in covering material that has been done over and over again with no one daring to step in and say no.
That may sound like damning criticism and I suppose it is, a little. On the other side of the coin, the album has an infectious raw energy that is easy to get behind. I really like the guitar sound, always nice and clear and with its rough edges intact. Plus there are the vocals. Crowley sounds like his throat is attempting to escape his body, yet he can be understood! It is a rarity in this style of music and definitely a highlight, even if the content can never be considered great or even good prose.
Bottomline. While it does run long and would have been more impactful if tightened up a bit, I would be lying if I said this album does not rock. It is death of the classic variety and a breath of fresh air in the world of constant genre mash-ups that bands employ looking to stand out. If you like this style,you know who you are; give this a listen, you may just like it.