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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.