Review Summary: An empowering and tribal album but a little too repetitive
Greece is vastly known for its mythology and epic legends. One such tale is that of Rotting Christ, an Emissary of the Underground Territories. With the limbs of man and the lungs of a lion, its chief weapon was the grandiose anthems that echoed around the lands, these hymns had infectious grooves and enrapturing choruses that sent even the strongest mortals insane. The tale of Rotting Christ spans across nearly 30 years- constantly in pursuit of newer genre boundaries yet ever preserving a back metal heritage within their epic sirens. The latest tale of Rotting Christ is “Rituals”: the dark journey of our hero’s ascendancy to mainstream acclaim.
As per the title, Rotting Christ’s 12th album heavily relies on a ritualistic tone that eclipses every song on the album. However rituals and hymns are a repetitive process; and this album matches that statement. It’s true that each song on “Rituals” formulates around a grandiose and adventurous experience although every song is the same journey which ultimately lessens the overall quality of this ceremonious sound- similar to the feeling of seeing the same painting or sculpture over and over. Luckily, any lack of musical majesty in this album is supported by strong lyrical influence. ‘Tou Thanatou’ features passages from Greek composer N. Xylouris, ‘For A Voice Like Thunder’ includes a William Blake prologue from “King Edward IV” and ‘Ze Nigmar’ is composed in Aramaic-the language of Jesus Christ. If there is one thing “Rituals” particularly excels in, it’s establishing a historical and ancestral value to Rotting Christ’s music.
In some cases the fervour of this elating atmosphere does reach emotionally climaxing levels like on ‘Tou Thanatou’, which sounds like a darker and speedier Wardruna song from start to finish. Sakis Tolis exposes himself as a gargantuan presence towards the end of ‘Apage Satana’ however due to his repetitive lyrics and rhythms of the song his greatness never touches the heavens that were oh so prominent on previous albums like “Theogonia” and “Kata Ton Daimona Eautou”.
The talent of the Tolis brothers, Sakis and Themis, in Rotting Christ remains as masterful as ever. The chimerical ‘Elthe Kyrie’ fires along at a furious pace as tirades of whirling solos and exasperating female vocals scream out to proclaim “the coming of a new God”. ‘Konx Om Pax’ is a darker track that hearkens back to the band’s gothic charisma where drums smash like spears on shields before battle but the slower pace only increases the daemonic sense that is evoked. Another head to the hydra is spawned as Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) brings forth his commanding voice on ‘For A Voice Like Thunder’ where his and Sakis’ menacing psalms give way to some fantastic guitar leads.
Perhaps it’s because Rotting Christ have had such a renowned likelihood of continuously delivering stellar albums that people might feel more disappointed than they actually should with the direction “Rituals” treads. Though not wholly enrapturing, this album is still a strong addition to Rotting Christ’s career; certainly the most tribal sounding.