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Their beginnings were rough and off center - 55%

Byrgan, June 15th, 2010

At the start of their evolution as a band, Rotting Christ wildly displayed an unfettered and undeveloped face. Grotesque shapes and shadows distorted the appearance with quick and to the point grind songs, and a deathly character hazily revealed itself with lyrics that spouted Carcass-like gory medical terminology in either screamed or growled voices that ultimately had the energy but unfortunately lacked some of the path. 'Satanas Tedeum' travels down a darker and more sinister alleyway in extreme metal with their break out of death metal lyrics, yet this contains only the rough outlines of their more structured side that more would know in the nineties.

Musically this still retains thick and primitive death metal characteristics from their past, however it started to concentrate more on expanding a song instead of giving way to a series of outbursts. Necromayhem, as Sakis was formerly called, plays very minimal riffage compared to later work. The interwoven dual-tracked guitars haven't been conceived of at this point, and the way it's recorded makes it sound mudded and full of static. They transcend from when playing their fastest riffs to slower guitar lines that contain palm mutes with simplistic power chords and single noted filling; nothing that would scream progressive but instead come across as searching for what they're capable of at this point. Necrosauron/savron, as Themis Tolis or Sauron was called, (I'll just call him "Black Beard," makes it easier), plays with very minimal drumming techniques. Black Beard's sound on his set is rough and tumble: mainly the bass drum and snare are heard and just a slightly noticeable hi-hat. Black Beard's ability at this point is general and simplistic, with his fills typically walking a shaky plank by attempting snare rolls or cymbal hits at the beginning of measures, but incidentally not fully connecting with all of them to be the most proficient of players or even eye-patch, one-legged, parrot-shoulder charming enough to get away with it through the duration of the recording. It's a different tread of waters here with an acoustic kit, because B.B. eventually started to use an electronic set on the first full length.

Besides some of their faltering ability as musicians at this point, the other dilemma holding them back from more potential on 'Satanas Tedeum' is the production and mixing. Since this is a demo it's not surprising, though I'm reviewing the CD version re-released and re-mixed sometime later. The vocals are the loudest aspect, where the guitars are like the analog television set on the wrong channel in the background with its fuzziness filling the room. "Now, who left that damn T.V. on?! Oh, it's thaaat." Rotting Christ generally have two modes here where they are either going for a dark atmosphere or just simply using aggression: they take you from heinous fast sections to mid and slow mood-centered portions, and few bits of catchiness or hooks manage to sneak in as well. But the way this was recorded, it doesn't always find a fair dividing point that you could relate to all sides of their song writing with. Yeah, they have the bass guitar peak out at points to say hello and curtly goodbye, and another area that experiments with a vocal-choir effect on the keyboard that elevates its volume and some building atmosphere on a particular section. But especially when they're playing fast, the music can mesh together and retain the same shape, having the vocals leading overtop with the loudest bark on the block and with the instruments coming across as its nasty little followers underneath.

'Satanas Tedeum' does have its moments that spring up every now and again, and some parts come across as decent if still somewhat simplistic in its own little charming way; essentially showing more black heart and feeling than precision. Although, I still believe that you can only get away with so much of that unless you've got a band that's extremely charismatic or even affable, instead this reminds the listener at certain points why he/she should be giving it a chance in the first place. They did some great work in the nineties but at this point they're just finding out what that might or could be. I can't say that I would recommend this to someone who's heard their later material and wants to possibly back track, but more for a potential listener that has more leniency for production and musicianship or wants to see some of the evolution to what would be later called "second wave black metal" some time before it would become solidified as a movement.