Thursday, February 4, 2016

Black Metal History Month - Rotting Christ : " Rituals"

The kings of Greek black metal are back. I know they haven't actually been black metal for some time, but indulged in an amalgamation of goth, death metal and black metal, but did so in a much more experimental fashion than Behemoth. The opener is strong it has the big militant chant that has characterized their more recent material. The guitar tone in places sounds more industrial to me, but my first impression of this album is that I am much more impressed than I was with their 2013 album. There is a slower and more deliberate pound to "Ze Nigmar" . Lower baritone vocals are sung in more of a chant as the song throbs with a oppressive march. Things start getting weird on " Elthe Kyrie" as very staccato female vocals that remind me of Yoko Ono litter the verses. There is a brighter and almost Celtic tone to the song as well. There are other guest vocalists on the album such as Vorph from Samael  and Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost.

The chug over Vorph's reading is powerful on "Les Litanies De Satan",  but the song hangs on this just building on another marching beat that feels unresolved, though the chanted vocals that come in sound like they are from "Rosemary's Baby". "Apage Satana" has a tribal industrial feel and works off the same droning chant model the bulk of their songs now seem to flow from. They do deviate from this on the more viking metal sounding 'Tou Thanatou" that ebbs back and forth from a blast beat. The vocals have a  huge choral sound in  parts and a guitar solo also makes an appearance. The paradise Lost singer surfaces on " For a Voice Like Thunder". It starts with a very dramatic spoken word narrative and them transforms into something resembling more of a conventional metal song."Knox Om Pax" keeps things varied at a more ominous doom pacing. It slowly chugs into place. This album much like the two before it have a massive almost cinematic sound. They lock into a very steady chug with a blast beat running like a current beneath it.

While the esoteric nature of this album is clear in the bands intentions the first song that really captures this in the broadest sense is "Devadevam". Sure it follows a similar singular path that can be argued captures more of the ritualistic vibe the album is going for, but the counter to that is the trapping of magick this album surrounds itself with might come from an honest place, but at the end of the day this is a heavy metal album and songs is what it is all about. On both levels they succeeded with this song. The album closes with "Four Horsemen" which carries a dark pulse. It sounds like it could replace the theme song to the History Channels Vikings show. It builds fittingly up into an apocalyptic throb. I'll give this album a 9 it's a big improvement from their last one and finds the band back on better footing.

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