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Rotting Christ are in a rare legion of Metal bands to have never put out a bad album. With the exception of their duo of late 90's Gothic Metal albums (in which the first of the two A Dead Poem just about trumps Sleep Of The Angels) their career can be broken down into trilogies where the third album in each sequence is the strongest of the 3, and this latest effort (translating as “Do As Thou Wilt”) continues that trend by taking everything that was great about Theogonia and Aealo and hones them to perfection to make on of the strongest albums of Rotting Christ's career.
It is also the most ambitious, at least lyrically-speaking. Use of obscure and ancient languages has been part of Rotting Christ's forte as far back as 1991's Passage To Arcturo EP, but aside from the interlude track on that release (“Gloria de Domini Inferni”) they have never til now composed a song entirely in Latin. “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” breaks this mould in that perfectly grandoise Rotting Christ style, borrowing more from stylistically from the epic side of Pagan Metal than ever before in the process, but Latin is not the only language used here.
The title track which excellently utilises woodwind through is heavy tremelo-picked verse sections focuses around repeated chants in ancient Greek, as does the sombre and ritualistic closing number “Χ ξ ς'” (which translates to “666”), while “P'unchaw kachun - Tuta kachun” mixes both Inca and a rousing chorus in Spanish to great effect, conjuring up images of marauding conquistadores in the process. “Ahura Mazdā- Aŋra Mainiuu” might court controversy with its Islamic chants and use of lyrics in (I think) simplified Arabic, but as a manifestation of Greek culture and music's soundclash between east and west it is a culmination of something Rotting Christ have been building towards for several years, though undoubtedly “Iwa Voodoo” is the biggest lyrical, thematic and musical risk-taker on here. Few other bands could mix Creole voodoo chants with Metal without it sounding daft and kitsch, and though this is the furthest thing on this album from the classic Rotting Christ sound it is undoubtedly a feather in their cap all the same.
“Cine iubeşte şi lasă” (translating as “who loves and leaves”) is another brave experimentation, not only as it is an adaptation of a traditional Romanian song, but because the arrangement has been left to 2 session musicians. Suzana & Eleni Vougioukli's vocals and piano playing are powerful to say the least, but given how close in style and delivery they are to the mighty Avant Garde composer Diamanda Galas who has collaborated with the band in the past it is hard not to feel a sting of disappointment that they have not chosen to renew that association.
This album does not only appeal to linguists and anthropological types though, and while anyone expecting a return to the Hellenic Black Metal style of old will not be pleased this is stylistically trademark Rotting Christ to the bone. The drumming on this album is nothing short of thunderous and the unmistakeable tremelo-picking guitar style laced with killer melodic licks and pinch harmonics produces more great riffs than ever, meaning there is not a dud moment or track on this whole record. “Gilgameš” briefly shows a little more old school flair with Sakis trading in his newer orc-like bark for his previous blackened rasp, but to really get something close to the early Rotting Christ sound you will need to get the special edition of this album for the bonus track “Welcome To Hel.” Not only is this a clever pun but a slick, clean and powerful update on the sound perfected on their early albums that makes me wonder if an album of re-recorded classic material with their current huge studio sound is a possibility. For now though Rotting Christ's eyes are looking firmly forward, and a track like “Русалка” which showcases some amazingly catchy riffs as well as seamless alternation between Sakis' barked vocals, whispered sections accompanied by chimes and the Gojira-like soaring clean vocal parts is stunning, and shows that this band's creative well has not run dry yet. [9/10]
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts
Rotting Christ has always been a band that has made their own decisions regarding musical direction, performing a variety of extreme metal genres throughout their 25+ year career. They began their career in 1987 as a grindcore band and quickly evolved into one of Greece’s earliest black metal bands, releasing several strong releases in the early 1990’s. Starting in the mid 1990’s the band began incorporating gothic elements in their music, and this fusion resulted in the excellent Triarchy of the Lost Lovers in 1996. The gothic influence intensified and continued for several strong albums in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and gothic influences remained when the band started to return to their black metal roots with 2002’s Genesis. By 2007, Rotting Christ made it clear that they were once again ready to undergo a musical evolution, and began incorporating a variety of folk elements into their music. This new approach was to result in the excellent albums Theogonia and Aealo, in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
2013’s Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού is a continuation of the folk influenced black metal presented on their previous two albums, and proves a powerful listen. The title translates to “True To His Own Spirit”, a phrase fitting for Rotting Christ, exemplifying their unique approach to extreme metal throughout their decades-long career. The lyrical content of the album is all based on the ancient mythology of a variety of cultures, including Mayans, Persians, Sumerians, and, of course, Greeks. One can get a good sense of the theme of the album just by reading the song titles on the back cover. Each title is written in a different language, and each song is based on a myth from the language’s respective culture. It is certainly an intriguing concept, and Rotting Christ manages to deliver an album with enough variety, both musically and lyrically, to remain interesting throughout.
The album’s opener, In Yumen/Xibalba, begins with a long, droning introduction consisting of sustained, distorted chords and chanting. This two-minute-long introduction serves to set the mood for the album, an album that serves as a 50-minute journey into religions of the past. The chanted intro conjures up images of ritualism and pagan ceremonies, the heart of the album’s concept. At about two minutes into the song, the band changes pace, breaking into a heavy tremolo-picked verse highly reminiscent of the material on 2010’s Aealo. Honestly, the majority of the material on this album is reminiscent of Aealo, but this in no way detracts from the strength of the album. Aealo was a very strong release, and Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού serves as its logical sequel.
A clear album standout is the excellent “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos”, featuring powerful, driving rhythm guitar and a chanted chorus repeating the title, which translates to Great Spirit Diavolos in Latin. The verses are delivered with an interesting vocal technique; Sakis Tolis delivers the verse in his typical harsh vocals while a baritone clean sings at the same time, again adding to the pagan atmosphere. Another standout track is “Pусалка”, the title being a Russian word translating to mermaid or nymph. This track features more Aealo-esque tremolo picking and interesting whispered vocals in its verse. It also features an outstanding guitar solo that ranks among the best in Rotting Christ’s career. In fact, the guitar work in general on this album is very impressive. Several tracks feature impassioned guitar solos and strong leads, making this one of Rotting Christ’s most lead guitar-oriented albums to date.
While the impressive guitar work is certainly the album’s focus, there is a variety of other instrumentation that contributes greatly to the album’s mood and concept. The title track features a bagpipe, an interesting inclusion to any metal album, and several songs feature a full choir, serving as an excellent complement to the heavy guitar work. There is a great amount of musical variety present on this album, and the majority of the musical experiments are very effective. The only real exception to this is present on track five, “Cine iubește și lasă”, Rotting Christ’s rendition of a traditional Romanian song. While it is performed well, this piece is certainly the album’s low point. What really damages the song is the inclusion of strange laughing samples in the middle and at the end of the song, serving no purpose other than upsetting the mood of the album. The laughing is a confusing inclusion, and damages an otherwise strong track.
Sakis Tolis’ vocal work on Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού is as strong as ever, although it should be noted that he is a little more difficult to understand on this album when compared to past releases. This seems to be a trend for Rotting Christ since the early 2000’s, as with every new release Tolis’ vocals seem a little more garbled and harder to decipher. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as he certainly still gives a powerful performance; it is just an observation on the development of the singer’s vocals over time.
Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού is a powerful musical journey into our world’s religious past, and is an album that should be listened to in its entirety. While there are several standout tracks, the album is best understood as one piece of art, and should be listened to as such for full effect. Fans of Aealo and Theogonia will certainly be pleased with the direction Rotting Christ has chosen to take with their latest album, and even fans disappointed in those albums may find material on this album enjoyable. The heavy amount of variety featured on this album should prove an interesting listen at the very least. The album is testament to the fact that Rotting Christ is not slowing down after almost thirty years, as Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού stands as one of the strongest releases of Rotting Christ’s lengthy career.
Album Highlights: “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos”, “Iwa Voodoo”, “Pусалка”
I had plenty of ups and downs when I first heard this was going to be released. The first stroke was with the cover art, which looked (and still looks) rushed and lazy as shit. I then heard the whole album and felt more disappointed after the three year wait following the flawed Aealo. Rotting Christ continued to evolve into something that made them adopt more traditional folk influences, but this time it made for another inconsistent album. They hadn’t yet captured that ancient essence like on Theogonia. I still hung on to this album out of sheer fandom, and one by one songs began to be more creative and compelling than I first gave credit.
The first four songs (and the bonus song “Welcome To Hel”) are already, on a level for any basic listener of black or death metal, significantly easy to get into. Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού is Rotting Christ continuing with the ruthless roars, thumping pounds of the drums, tumultuous riffs, immense atmosphere, and that ambitious scope ripe with folk modulation. I use the terms folk, traditional, or eastern within the western concept of ancient Greek imagery. Since Theogonia, Rotting Christ have expanded on this sound to the point where this album isn’t even a standard, cohesive body of work. It’s a collection of songs taking influences from various cultures and tying it to this core sound. The effect is an inventive communal embodying the Tolis brothers’ (or at least Sakis’ since he wrote almost everything) values of breeding modern extreme metal with diverse, resourceful influences. Better yet, it does so without becoming pompous like Aealo.
Each song has a standalone theme, luring you in with its ominous, mystical tone. “In Yumen - Xibalba” deafens with its opening akin to the immensity of a Triptykon song; those riffs tower over and slam down on you. The riffing is the chug and rudder approach as the guitars perform faster picks (as heard in the rest of the song), but something like this builds and crashes with such force. The compositional importance this time around is in the atmospheric crescendos where the melodies and tonality are the key rather than the choruses. Sakis’ vocals are quite secondary in terms of consequence. His delivery of potent growls and scornful screams is fine, but they mostly compliment the songs, not direct them. Songs like the harmonious “Welcome To Hel” and the slick “Iwa Voodoo” are the kinds that give him precedence.
On production, this is top notch: thick, warm, clear, tin-less, powerful. It lacks the mechanical polish in many modern albums – that Jen Bogren style that doesn’t exactly have any harshness - yet doesn’t dismiss heaviness. If you’ve got a bass-heavy setup, then you’ll certainly hear the robust bass support. The bass plucks are meteor impacts, but Themis’ blast beats and militaristic fills are stampeding. “Русалка” is one of the more straightforward songs on here and it perfectly demonstrates the non-stop barrage of fast-paced beating alongside hovering guitar tremolos. The song after it, “Ahura Mazdā-Aŋra Mainiuu,” is a huge track that goes for the mid-paced, roaring / stomping style. Both types are melodic and contain this ritualistic intrigue, if only for the way non-metal traits are seamlessly implemented (they made bagpipes in “Ahura Mazdā-Aŋra Mainiuu” sound classy).
The difference between Aealo and this album needs to be highlighted. Aealo and this one are more similar to each other than others because of their inclusion of traditional elements. What Aealo stunk at was making it sound seamless and, well, good. Most of what was going on with that album was great in the metal department, but the overabundance of annoying female vocals and supplanting folky moments inappropriately caused the album to sound bloated. Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού largely avoids this problem (the baby cries in “P'unchaw kachun - Tuta kachun” aren’t my thing but I get why they were going for that). Instead of annoying female cawing, there’s heavier use of male choirs to bring in antique chanting. Two tracks that use this perfectly are the infectious “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” and “P'unchaw kachun - Tuta kachun”. The latter in particular is my favorite in the way it starts out barbaric and then maintains this epic as shit lead when it first fires off midway through.
On Aealo they featured two songs which were devoted to going all-in on the traditional stuff. One was a really, really shitty transition track called “Nekron Iahes…” and the other was an unnecessarily long cover song. The closest thing on here to any of those is “Cine iubeşte şi lasă,” an adaptation of a traditional song not actually arranged by Rotting Christ. Hearing this on my first run irked me because the female singing was not something I was into. However, it had this cryptic atmosphere as she sung over the shuffled piano melodies. It sounded so moving, giving this image of walking through a battlefield littered with the dead, and eventually had me sucked in to her soulful performance. Her solo section ends a couple minutes in when the guitars smash with a catchy riff that follows the same stomping pace as previously mentioned.
My fandom paid off. This album could have been as dismissed as Aealo, which I still like but find substandard for a Rotting Christ album. At the core that album did things right, but what got plastered in between didn’t work; here it does work. Despite having listeners approach these songs with a different mindset, the result is the same. You get more charismatic songs by a band that crossed black, gothic, and now uses those genres to tread into their own niche. The wait was worth it, and if only these guys took the time to grace this release with artwork that isn’t as dull as the color black itself I’d actually have something to appreciate looking at, too.
With a moniker as charming as Rotting Christ, you can expect to hear some sinister tunes. In fact, they are an essential name in the wake of the gothic metal genre. Their legacy began all the way back in 1988 from Athens, Greece, and since then, they have unleashed a horde of studio albums over the years. However, 2013 would mark the release of their eleventh full-length record entitled "Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy," or "Do What Thou Will." It reeks of pure evil, and it shows no signs of this legendary duo slowing down.
As always, Rotting Christ continues their thunderous onslaught with their dark and demonic fusion of gothic and black metal. Overall, the formula is carried out excellently, starting with the musicianship. Firstly, the vocals are wondrously ranged, stretching from deathly whispers to monstrous growls and screams. They also include some unsettling female chants and singing that add to the album's dark atmosphere, especially in "Cine Iubeste Si Lasa," supposedly a traditional Romanian song.* In addition, the guitar work sounds great, in both how the riffs and melodies are performed and the way they are mixed. On top of that, the drums are also very good, sounding raw and resonant while maintaining focus and solidity and delivering whirlwind-like speeds.
Alongside the stellar instrumentation is the sound production, which also fares well. The thick atmosphere it delivers truly serves as one of the record's greatest highlights, because it piles onto the cold and echoing tone of the music itself. In addition to that, it simultaneously allows the instruments to sound, creating a nice balance between solidity and resonance. All in all, both the musicianship and the production play their parts in the album's enjoyability.
Accompanying the stellar instrumentation and mixing is the well-executed music itself. Starting off, the tracks are, for the most part, distinct from each other. There are a few exceptions where the tracks sound a little too similar, an example being between "In Yumen - Xibalba" and the title track, but considering how great the music holds up, that can be overlooked. And even so, almost each track has something different and interesting to give to its audience. In context of that, not only does the musicianship itself keep listeners invested, but the cultural instrumentation, mostly including wind instruments, also helps in the music's sense of diversity. On top of that, little tidbits such as the ritualistic female singing and the delightfully devilish laughs, particularly in "Cine Iubeste Si Lasa," really help in creating a more wicked atmosphere. The music as a whole is grand in how powerfully demonic it is, and its formula beyond succeeds.
After over two decades, Rotting Christ has proven to be remaining on its throne as one of the world's greatest gothic-black metal acts, and "Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy" is the evidence. From the musicianship down to the songs themselves, this album succeeds in its dark delivery. Although this record is slightly inferior to the duo's older records like "Theogonia" and "Aealo," it is nonetheless a must-have for their longtime fans, as well as gothic and black metal fans in general. This is evil metal at some of its finest.
Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/
The first observation I can make about the new Rotting Christ sound is that it is beyond the sound of old Rotting Christ – placing them in a realm shared by symphonic black and death metal, folk and power. With the evolution of their sound beginning with Theogonia, continuing on with Aealo, and now with True To His Own Spirit (and no, I am NOT adventurous enough to shuffle through the Greek characters to list the non-translated title; no offense to the band, as you will see from this review, I truly dig this album and what Rotting Christ have become), there sound has taken on a character, a heaviness, and a cultural greatness not explored by most bands of this genre. For those unfamiliar with the history of this band, two sides have been taken: those for the days of A Dead Poem era and those for the bigger orchestral sound of the last three albums. I for one am a fan of both, but I cannot disregard the atmosphere of the new Rotting Christ; a powerful style full of Greek strength and ambition – a style reminiscent of the country and cultural appreciation of Finnish, Danish, and Swedish folk and power metal bands as of late.
I appreciate this style as I do folk and black metal bands who give you more than just music, but also a biography of who the band is, where they come from, where they have been, and the appreciation and respect they have for what they do and who they are. For me, that’s what metal is about. Were Rotting Christ not that type of band in the days of A Dead Poem? They absolutely were and they have progressed as all great bands do to touch on something new and leave the same feeling of uniqueness and character. With this said, my defense of this great band is made and now to the music.
First off, I love Aealo. It was fresh and the first spin transported me to a world of Rotting Christ’s creation. I love that album and so it was difficult to think they could top it. Did they? In my opinion, no, but they came awfully close. True To His Own Spirit is more a continuation of Aealo than an album all its own (an effect most likely desired by the band). Right out of the gates, you are transported back to the world of Aealo, and the story continues from where it was left off.
The opening track has to be my favorite; big guitars, big drums, and powerful vocals – vocals of the type that would unite civilizations and pound out anthems for a military march. Overall, the album does not have the stand out tracks of Aealo, but rather the fullness of an album. Nothing really jumps out in uniqueness until you get to the fifth track – a traditional Greek song, arranged with opening female vocals and powerful chants. Again, the style is big and powerful; simplistic in its delivery, but massive in effect. The album continues in a cohesive delivery of a concept album with the addictive Iwa Voodoo (yes, addictive – almost as addictive as the opening track). Tracks interspersed with male and female vocals and chants, traditional instruments and arrangements, and orchestration keep you trapped in the concept of Rotting Christ throughout.
Other standout tracks are 666 and the bonus track, Welcome to Hel – a perfect ending to a great album. Summed as a whole, Rotting Christ has continued in the tradition of Aealo; simplistic and minimalistic, with a strong march-like rhythm of big, heavy and full. While not as good an album as its predecessor, this is an album for fans of the new style of Rotting Christ. For how simple this album may seem, there is a lot going on here and multiple spins are required to appreciate its entirety. However, as good as it is, it is evident that with the release of this new album, the style of Rotting Christ’s Greek trilogy feels concluded and progression from this trilogy is required for the succeeding albums. Rotting Christ has surprised me before so it is difficult to predict what is next.
Over the course of their more than 25 years long career, Rotting Christ has put their country on the worldwide extreme metal map with their constant experimentation of various genres. Starting off as a black metal band in the 80s and early 90s, the band soon added some gothic elements into their music on albums like Thoegonia. This year sees the band return with their 11th full length album, Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy, leaving one to wonder what surprises the band has put in place once more for fans, despite the honestly, rather boring cover artwork on this release.
If one has listened to Aealo, then he can almost know what to expect on Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy. As usual though, the band once again incorporates elements from a vast variety of genres, as evident from the rather doom-laden opening track In Yumen – Xibalba. However things go to rather familiar ground quickly enough as the frantic riffs of Sakis soon greets the listener, with that familiar industrial, martial-feeling pace that reminds me of my first encounter with Rotting Christ on Theogonia‘s Enuma Elish especially on the title track. And from here on out, it’s business as usual for the band, with their style of metal that is so hard to really define.
Throughout the album, it seems that the folk sensibilities are rather strong, and this in the melodies that are unleashed by Sakis, and there are times where one is reminded of earlier material of bands like Eluveitie like on Grandis Spiritus Diavolos, though things are certainly more intense over here. At the same time, the music remains as crushing and heavy as ever, with the drumming of Themis providing lots of the speed and energy to the music, on top of the intensity of the presence of Sakis in the band’s music. Sakis’ vocals also remain as sinister as ever, with that hollow-sounding growl of his.
Yet the album isn’t necessarily a completely heavy or fast ride. The chants that are so heavily present on the record also at times give an almost occult, ritualistic feel to the music, and the backing shouts on tracks like P’unchaw Kachun – Tuta Kachun help to give an epic feel to the music, sounding like preparations for a coming war, though at the same time this is quickly followed up by a rather melancholic melody, bringing the listener on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Songs like Iwa Voodoo even has a somewhat old school heavy metal feel to it.
Honestly, apart from Theogonia, I haven’t really seriously listened to a Rotting Christ record, but hearing the material on Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy has once again reminded me how much I have missed out.
Early previews of this album did not yield much excitement for me, as it seemed like a formulaic continuation of Rotting Christ's last album, which was heavily invested in symphonics and atmosphere. I did enjoy Aeolo well enough, but what I was hearing on the newer samples was like a watering down, with a lot of baseline chugging riffs or the usual staccato picked sequences the band has been employing quite often across the last decade. There was also the incredibly lazy cover art... Granted, they haven't been strong in this department since the 90s, but this is by far the worst in their history; nothing more than a mirroring of some gargoyle's image with the bland album title text. Seriously, I don't know if the idea here was 'minimalism', but fuck that, dudes! You guys have a great logo: show it off. Nothing wrong with a little 'branding', especially with such a strong history of consistently engaging output.
Unfortunately, after numerous listening cycles, my fears were confirmed: Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού ('True to His Own Spirit') is not exactly a poorly arranged or awful album by any means, but it's quite an uninspired mass of business as usual, in which the atmospherics take precedence over the memorability of the guitar progressions, and I can count the sum of its striking sequences on the fingers of one hand. Basically the band could be compared to a Hellenic version of Therion, with the deep and somnolent male choirs merged to the more melodic, flighty female guest vocalists, and the metallic rhythmic components all too simple, as if a bit of added innovation and complexity might not support the layers of synths and the half dozen members of the chorus. If the harmonies were particularly transfixing, I might forgive this, but alas they're just not all that special. I mean if I was to play Xena the Warrior Princess (who wants to be Gabrielle?), running around the verdant hills and pastures of New Zealand and making battle with fictional creatures and assassins, this has enough pomp and thrust to carry the day foe me. It's not an album in poor taste, but it just seems as if we've already been down this path, and while competent, Rotting Christ are not particularly great at it...
What they WERE, was a great GUITAR band, possessed of epic, glorious melodies on records like A Dead Poem, Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, lines that would stick in your head for years upon years. Even in their more arguably 'Goth' phase, Sleep of the Angels, they were writing some top notch tunes. Here, most of the melodies are slung along in typical fashion, whether through hammering patterns or simple, flowery lilting passages that add some delirium to the rifling rhythm structures. They do get a good punch to the guitar, which mixes lavishly against the choirs, barked vocals and orchestration, but apart from the bonus track "Welcome to Hel", which I thought was the best on the album, marginally hearkening back to their more majestic black metal stylings of the 90s, the rhythm guitars are little more than bedrock for whatever else is happening. Overall, I'd say the record has a pretty great mix. It's probably more polished than Non Serviam/Thy Mighty Contract nerds would be comfortable with, but with so much necessary to balance, it was the only approach worth taking. The drums sound great, and you can make out the bass lines, but the latter prove little more than a footnote applied by Sakis Tolis after his vocals, guitars and keyboards.
If there was one aspect I consistently admired, it's the 'worldliness' of the album's themes. One might be tricked into thinking this was some patriotic tribute to their Greek heritage, but in truth it explores a lot of historical and mythological cultures. You get occult lyrics in Latin ("Grandis Spiritus Diavolos"), a lovingly crafted upgrade to a Romanian traditional with fantastic pianos and female vocals ("Cine iubeşte şi lasă"), a voyage to the Mayan underworld ("In Yumen - Xibalba"), ancient Slavic demons ("Русалка"), and Sumerian epics ("Gilgameš"); hell, there is even a Voodoo track! It's like a tour of fascinating religious constructs of antiquity, and while Rotting Christ could probably write an entire, compelling record on any of these subjects, its sort of cool that they are sending them out as 'feelers'. Sadly, when set to such boring chord progressions as those around 2:30 in "Cine iubeşte şi lasă", the opening of "Grandis Spiritus Diavolos", or the wah wah in "Iwa Voodoo", I had zero expectations that anything interesting would occur, and for the most part, that held true. If you're looking to stir a bit of Therion or Hollenthon into your morning Aeolo, then this is surely your poison. But a few decent melodies and a passably exotic atmosphere do not always make for an ethnic metal masterpiece, and you can zip Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού into the evidence bag.