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First thing I would like to say in this review is this: Have Rotting Christ really been around for twenty years? I mean, I remember listening to one of their first demos with a friend of mine and not being too impressed. From that listen some fifteen odd years ago to now - the band I am currently listening to is worlds apart and musically superior to what my first impression was in my teens. Since that time, every time I have seen something about them or someone has offered to let me listen to one of their past offerings, I have respectfully declined. My bad.
I have had my first real sonic conversion.
Here’s the deal - the last time I listened to Rotting Christ, they were still a grindcore band. So imagine my surprise when I received my copy of their latest release expecting a more advanced and complex version of the demo I had heard so long ago, and hear what is essentially the Greek equivalent to Scandinavian Viking metal. Let's just say I think I like this incarnation of the band the best. In fact, the music has been downright inspiring for me in that I've written a short story to it inspired by the music. In one word, this album is phenomenal.
Like a haunting voice from the distant past, Aeolo calls forth, begging for you listen to their cries of hatred, fear and pain. I personally enjoy it when a band from non-English speaking countries sing in their native language (or in this case, they are not necessarily the ones singing in Greek, but the intent is there). It’s made even more enjoyable when they throw their culture into the mix adding their signature to the album. It helps me to come up with mental images which are indicative of far away places I would enjoy going to, and hopefully will be able to afford to go to one day.
The album’s title track, “Aeolo” is the first in a string of eleven tracks that will transport you to a time when Mt. Olympus ruled and the world was a much smaller place to be. According to both Metal Archives and the band’s website/MySpace pages, “'Aeolo' is the transcription of an ancient Greek word into the Latin alphabet. It means thrashing, catastrophe or destruction and reflects the musical and lyrical content of the album.” I’m 100% sure that there is no better way to describe the overall vibe of this album. The pace is kept up over the course of the album and never relents, never disappointing.
Throughout various tracks on the album, you hear an almost eerie female chorus backing the vocals provided by the band. This helps to beef up the album to a perfection that many bands struggle for and rarely achieve. It’s utilized more as an accompanying instrument than vocals, adding more to each song’s musical “beef” so to speak, than being vocals for the albums themes.
The two tracks “Necron lahes...” and “...Pir Therontai” create a musical suite that blends both an a cappella track of the female choir elements that are found woven throughout the album. Pairing it with a full song that has whom I am assuming is the guys from the band chanting to create a two-song arc in which each part blends seamlessly with the other. They create a “one from two” feeling that will amaze the listener and helps to establish this album as the first solid release of the year. I am even tempted to say this is possibly a contender for top ten lists later in the year, but seeing that it is only February, my mind could possibly change as more albums come out. “…Pir Therontai” contains a mix of male chanting and more traditional male vocals provided by guest vocalist Magus of Greek black metallers Necromantia. This track picks right up from “Necron lahes…” and barrages you with very heavy, very catchy drums and bass beats. Good song to play at a bon fire to get everyone dancing and cavorting.
The song, "Thou Art Lord" is voiced by Nemetheana of Primordial. His vocals are uncanily reminicent of Type O Negative vocalist, Peter Steele. This adds to the more primal nature of the album, making it highly stirring music worthy of praise given to scripture in past eons.
The final track I would like to mention is “Orders From the Dead” a cover of avantgarde musician Diamanda Galás. At least musically, this is probably the slowest on the album. If you aren’t seething with some form of hate towards humanity in general by the time this track is over, you are already dead and feel nothing anyways. This features Galás doing vocals. This is an incredibly powerful song with very powerful images, the music doubling the intensity of emotion that the lyrics paint for the listener. Diamanda’s vocals are very captivating accompanied by the band on their normal instruments, which are very toned down and are as close to acoustic as you can get without being acoustic.
That final track, taken into consideration with the album’s entirety, creates an album that is both captivating, yet contains that repulsive element many bands that are anti-Christian make their careers on.
by Kesh Butler, contributor from Metal Psalter Webzine