without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Things can only get better after Acheron's terrible debut. It is always nice to know that one has overcome the lowest point. The band has made a big step forward. This does not automatically mean that "Lex Talionis" is the name of an undispensable classic of the black / death sub genre. Far from it! To my great regret, Acheron still make a lot of mistakes that result in an ambivalent overall impression.
First of all, nine intros / outros are included. Fantastic stroke of genius! I guess they were meant to increase the atmosphere of the album. But to be honest, these keyboard interludes do not reach the intended purpose. Instead, they hurt the flow of the album and prevent that the listener has the possibility to wallow continuously in the violent sonic orgies of Acheron. Under the bottom line, nine of 45 minutes are useless. 20 percent shit, this is a lot. But the band seems to be entangled in its own questionable concept. I would like to point out that already their first full-length suffered from a very similar arrangement. It is scant comfort to know that this was just one of approximately a million problems of the debut.
Anyway, the regular songs stand in the foreground. Acheron still play a dark form of death metal which is occasionally pepped up with black metal elements. The average velocity is low, the level of primitiveness is still high. Any kind of exceptional or bizarre elements remain out of consideration. However, the main problem is something quite different. Although the compositions reach an acceptable level, they do not capture the attraction of the listeners for more than ten minutes. Roughly speaking, all songs fail to develop a long-lasting impact. The strong verses of "The Entity" constitute the most promising part of the album, but its fairly flaccid chorus is slightly annoying. Nevertheless, this song has an appropriate dose of dynamism, inter alia because of the well accentuated double bass. Too bad that this remains an isolated case. Too many songs are defaced by comparatively lame parts and the compositional skills of the band are still not impressive. Some solos leave a fairly good impression, the sinister vocals are acceptable, but when looking at the big picture, Acheron still lack of charisma. Not to mention their stupid lyrics. "The time has come to rid the earth of all its Christian filth"? Okay, I hope you feel well in your clinically clean world of Satan.
Due to whatever reason, the album of the US-Americans was recorded in Vienna. What is even more amazing is the fact that the Austrian production does not show any serious deficiencies. Well, it lacks of an extra portion of heaviness in order to reveal the full potential of a slowly creeping piece like "Voices Within", which is actually not bad. But generally speaking, the sound can be described as dense, dark and well balanced. Compared with the dull, powerless and flat production of the debut, the here presented mix marks a noteworthy improvement.
Long story short, the concept sucks, some riffs sound stale and about half of the breaks are not managed in a very clever way. Nevertheless, this second attempt has its moments and the positive tendency cannot be ignored. All maniacs that like old-fashioned black metal can give "Lex Talionis" a try.
Personally I am not kind of person, who needs to have all albums in his collection in their first press versions, whether it’s CD and LP. I don’t really mind having some – even the most classic – records in their second or even third versions, as long as these reissues are done well and keep several things intact. For example I don’t like if there’s big interference in the original sound. Then I don’t mind if they enhance the booklet with some additional info, photos, story, etc – these things are actually really cool, but I hate if they change the artwork on the cover. Finally I don’t mind if they add some bonus tracks, as long as they’re not some useless live or rehearsal songs, which are sounding like shit and normally are not even good enough to be on a crappy bootleg. And so on and on… Here I have a reissue of Acheron’s excellent second LP titled “Lex Talionis”. It has been re-released – along with the debut LP “Rites of the Black Mass” – on vinyl by Funeral Industries in 2013. I had to get them, as I always considered these two LPs to be killer and really wanted to have them on vinyl. But I just must say that the new covers for both LPs plus the whole layout for “Lex…” are all just bad. As I mentioned earlier, I hate if they change the original cover and both “Lex Talionis” and “Rites of the Black Mass” got new artwork, which is awful; the graphic is not good at all plus I hate that it is so colourful, plus the inlay for “Lex Talionis” hasn’t got any of the photos, which were on the original CD version of the album… Ahhh, definitely the visual side of “Lex Talionis” should have been done better by Funeral Industries. I don’t wanna say that I loved the original artwork of the album, because it wasn’t anything special, but still it was better than this new one and more so, it is the original cover! OK, this LP version of “Lex Talionis” has one more change – it contains one bonus track: “Prayer of Hell”, which I think was taken from “Messe Noir” demo and the question why didn’t they include the entire demo here? It would be much more awesome, I think. Anyway…
Bashing the failure of the entire new layout of “Lex Talionis” is one thing, but luckily it doesn’t disturb in listening to the album, which in my opinion is truly excellent and probably – along with “Those Who Have Risen” – belongs to my favourites, speaking of the Acheron catalogue (mind though that I don’t know all the releases by this band!). This is just awesome piece of satanic death metal; an album, which creates such an evil and malevolent aura that it freezes blood and scares the feeble. Acheron have their own sound and style; there’s no denying that; already the first LP showed that and “Lex Talionis” only proves how special this band has always been. Some of you may not necessarily like that whole Church of Satan thing, which surrounds it, along with calling Satan in every song, but damn… blasphemy is the aim of this music! Personally I cannot imagine someone, who would listen to Acheron just for the sake of the music, however good it is. And if there’re any bands in death metal, whose music was as evil and satanic, then along with Vital Remains and the early Deicide, it is Acheron. I love the atmosphere of their music, but more so I just totally love these songs. Acheron plays quite slow sort of death metal, sometimes their riffs are almost doomy, but that allows them to perfectly create the proper atmosphere and to have this great feeling. Some of these riffs are almost catchy and really force the listener to perform a maniacal headbanging, so utterly possessing they are. Some of these songs also have incredibly memorable choruses, so again you’ll get hooked and I dare to say that you’ll scream some of these lyrics every time you listen to this record. Finally there’re those awesome vocals of Vincent Crowley… the man is a beast, his ghoulish vocals are fantastic, fit the music perfectly and only deepen the cold, evil feeling. Great! And what about those intros, which are included between each death metal songs? They’re performed by Peter H. Gilmore, so you know it is deadly serious stuff and damn, they really freeze blood and sound incredibly well – way, way better than those from “Rites of the Black Mass” LP.
I have been listening to “Lex Talionis” all day and I just cannot stop. This LP sounds amazing and I am happy it was re-released on vinyl, even if they fucked up the whole layout. The music is strong as hell and such anthems as “The Entity”, “Voices Within”, “Legions of Hatred” and “Enter the Cover” are pure masterpieces of satanic death metal. I strongly recommend you to give this LP a listen… you know, it has originally been released in 1994, so almost 20 years ago, but it still sounds so damn well, the production is still really fuckin heavy and awesome, so this LP ages really well. Get it now then!
Standout tracks: “The Entity”, “Voices Within”, “Legions of Hatred”, “Enter the Cover”
Final rate: 90/100
“Lex Talionis” continues where “Rites of the Black Mass” left off. Once again Acheron present straightforward, aggressive and pretty simple, yet very hard-hitting and effective Satanic old-school death metal. Just like on the debut, Acheron don’t use any blast beats at all here, “Lex Talionis” is a good choice for those of you who like death metal but don’t care for blast beats.
This album is structured exactly like the debut: intro, metal track, intro, metal track and so on. Peter Gilmore once again composed the intros and they are mostly instrumental keyboard tracks, yet one intro also contains narration from Mr Gilmore himself. I noticed that the that the melody in the beginning of the intro that is track 9 is the same as the opening riff of Unholy’s (FIN) track “Alone”. Personally I like these intros, they give you time to catch your breath before the next track begins. The production on this album is heavier than on debut, where I felt it was a bit too thin, so the music sounds more powerful and that’s great. Then again, Acheron have never gone for that typical modern multilayered death metal production, they’ve always had a more stripped-down approach.
Vince’s vocals are angry growls, yet he never ventures into cookie monster territory. Many times you can understand the lyrics without reading them at the same time and Vince also sounds like he means what he says. The lyrics are very direct, no hard to understand metaphors used here! Mr Crowley simply rams his message down your throat totally unapologetically.
The music alters between fast’n’ thrashy and slow’n’doomy. The songs often combine both these elements and it’s here that Acheron’s strength lies. As I said before, the music are pretty simple, this is definitely not technical death metal, easy to get into and the choruses are easy to remember. Acheron deliver with heaviness and conviction. The slow riffs during the first part of “Inner Beasts” remind me quite a lot of Black Sabbath and create a great doomy feel. More oppressive doomy atmospheres can be found on tracks like “Enter Thy Coven” and “Voices Within”. “Legions of Hatred”, “Slaughterisation for Satan” and “Purification Day” represent the faster, headbangable aspect of the album.
The solos are competent, sometimes even too refined for this type of music in my opinion. A bit more aggression and bestiality in the solos wouldn’t have gone amiss (use that whammy bar, c’mon!). “The Entity” is a re-recording of a track from Nocturnus’ first demo (which Vince Crowley plays guitar on) and this new version is nice indeed. They haven’t made any alterations to it though, it’s pretty much 1:1 to the demo version but the sound is better of course. Another ex-Nocturnus member, Mike Browning, plays drums on this album. “Lex Talionis” is highly enjoyable old-school death metal with solos that bring in a traditional heavy metal feel. Acheron managed to carve out their own niche in the death metal scene, as their stuff is neither typically early 90s US or Swedish death metal.