Review Summary: On their what should be considered classic album, Rotting Christ choose the high road of Black Metal and bring good production and catchy riffs to the forefront of their sound.
I have found over the years that the name of a band alone can tell you a lot of what you need to know about a band’s sound. For instance when you hear of a band named Dying Fetus, there is no way you’d think they’d be a pop punk band hailing from the sunny beaches of California. No, your mind immediately conjured up band filled with blast beats, low guttural growls, and a public image that could make any good mannered citezen run for the hills. Similarly with a band called Rotting Christ, my mind immediately came to the conclusion that this was one of those Black Metal bands who recorded all of their albums on a shoe, whose guitar playing consisted of thin sounding tremolo picking riffs, and whose vocals were in the nasally register. Finally my curiosity got the better of me, and I checked out their album Triarchy of Lost Lovers and boy did I realize that I was dead wrong.
Rotting Christ’s sound is nowhere near to what your stereotypical “copy/paste” black metal band sounds like at all. In fact the two most prominent features of this album are atmosphere and melody. Instead of nonexistent production like most of the classic wave of Black Metal bands, Rotting Christ actually favors a thick layer of murky production which really helps to craft a sorrowful, desolate landscape for the music of the album to be presented on. For example of this production, look no further than the song Snowing Still. Snowing Still is a slow burning and highly melodic song and by far the most emotionally packed song on the album. If this song doesn’t conjure up images of a vast snowy wilderness at dusk something is wrong with your imagination.
Another thing the production does for this album is enunciate and bring to center stage the many melodic and catchy riffs contained on this album. Yes, this black metal album contains actual tangible riffs that you can air guitar too and really well-crafted riffs at that. Most of the songs on this album are based around a singular guitar riff at their core. And when the song isn’t based around a core guitar riff melancholy melody abounds. Diastric Alchemy is the perfect example of this; the core guitar riff is a very headbangable one that interplays with more dissonant guitar melodies throughout the song.
Finally the vocals on this album aren’t your typical nasally sounding black metal vocals either, but instead are midrange growls. While they are not the most amazing vocals you’ll hear, they work well with the music adding a significant amount of weight to it. This means the vocals also work well with the guitar melodies that are predominately portrayed here. They can also add a lot of emotion to the song. For example on Archon the vocals during the chorus of the song make the song as a whole come off as really powerful and one of the best songs off of the album.
So as you can see, in short Triarchy of the Lost Lovers is not your average black metal album and definitely illustrates that Rotting Christ is one of the more underrated classic black metal bands. Despite their more or less stereotypical black metal name Rotting Christ releases an album that truly at the time of its release was original and influential for the local Greek scene and the black metal scene as a whole. So in closing don’t let the name of this glorious band cause you to pigeon hole them into a certain stereotype, give this album a listen and let the music do the talking.
Best Songs: Archon, Snowing Still, and Diastric Alchemy