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After a couple transitional albums - the last of which already hit what Rotting Christ was trying to accomplish - the band takes a step back into the realm of black metal so they could absolutely kill. The precise instrumentation, a dustier production, and some of the best songs in Rotting Christ's career linger within this gloomy album. Sleep Of The Angels is the band's attempt to further mold their definition of black and gothic metal - and damn is it successful. Sakis in particular isn't distant anymore, and he's got more vocal styles to go for with rough growls, spiteful screams, and gothic singing (low and clean) / speaking /whispering that is more fitting and brilliant than I might make them out to be.
From the start, the band kicks off with keys (more abundance this time, but strictly in the synth style - not sappy at all) and riffs with surging power once more. There's an optimistic feeling to some of these songs, but the one opening this whole album, "Cold Colours", certainly has that vibe as its definition. It meets the listener with catchy, jagged riffs and crashing drums, as well as thick, fat bass lines and stylish, harmonic leads. It's a swirl of simply executed magnificence with forlorn atmosphere, yet a buoyant sensation is what it evokes. At the same time, the song leaves you feeling alone, but not powerless. It's a dose of different effects on the listener, none of which are really conflicting or confusing, though. What's more is how inviting it all sounds, but not even in a way that's poppy or instantly digestible.
Take one of my favorite Rotting Christ songs, "After Dark I Feel", as another song with bustling emotions oozing from the captivating leads, synth-draped backdrop, wavy riffs, balmy bass, and crashing consistency of Themis' rolling drumming. It all makes for a tender movement of gothic sensibilities all the way through the song's cryptic shift into the exultant "Victoriatus" - a faster track with equal harmonic intensity and catchiness.
Overall, Rotting Christ hit big with this album in terms of melody, elegance, and harshness. At the core, it's truly a murky offering with mixed emotions emulating that of each human's darkest passions. Supporting these is a cleansed production job that shows the best balance of instruments and vocals thus far. Whether individual songs or the sum of all of them, Sleep Of The Angels is definitely one of the better Rotting Christ experiences listeners cannot forgo.