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With "Theogonia" Rotting Christ blesses us with their unique brand of black metal where supreme musicianship and experimentation take centre stage. Each track perfectly crafted with years of experience through changes within the musical ethos of the band and the brilliant cohesive relationship between brothers Sakis and Themis Tolis. "Theogonia" fuses the experimental gothic sound of "A Dead Poem" with the more primal aggressiveness of the bands earlier releases while surpassing anything the band has released before or after this record.
Rotting Christ has never given its listener a straight forward black metal experience even when the band was known for being more straight forward with its sound there was always more to this band than the average black metal band. Melody has always been prominent along with chanting and sampling within the tracks, all of which are to the fore of the sound of "Theogonia". This record urges its listener to hear the minor details within each track, whether that be the operatic "ahh" sample that permeates "He, the Aethyr" or the Greek folk melodies mashed into "Nemecic". Subsequent listens through this album reveals more and more detail each time. Each track feels different to it's predecessor no idea is reused too much nor does the album feel prolonged.
The vocal style employed by Sakis Tolis holds a lot of weight, it's raspy and aggressive. It doesn't sound raw but neither does it feel too produced, it packs the required punch to stand out in songs and while each word isn't understandable it is on the whole very decipherable. There are a lot of vocal styles heard throughout this record. For example in the track "Enuma Elish" the intro shows a more industrial style vocal style from Sakis. While the chorus features Arabic sounding wailing. Some vocal styles are sampled like the Arabic singing on "Enuma Elish" and the cult like chanting in the intro to "Threnody". But some of the more varied non black metal vocals are straight from the mouth of Sakis.
The production on this record is nothing short of superb. This is not a raw sounding record, each track feels like an epic orchestration, some might see this as a bad thing but I can't help but feel that all the sampling, layering and experimentation help bring this record alive. It is both heavy yet accessible, a bridge for fans of non extreme genres to sample the delights of extreme music while not compromising what made this band great. No instrument feels too clean, sanitised or over produced.
"Theogonia" is littered with so much listening pleasure that to pick any song out for praise is unfair to the album as a whole. One criticism that can be leveled at Rotting Christ is that each album contains too much filler but that criticism is not valid here. From start to finish this album is a pleasure to listen to. To any non extreme metal fans who may stumble on this review, give this album a chance. Listen to songs like "Nemecic", "He, the Aethyr" or "Threnody" to see how beautiful extreme metal can be.
The genre of black metal seems to be highly occupied by the Norwegian camp but there are occasionally the bands from outside of Norway that continue to bring a new and clever sound to the black metal genre. Rotting Christ is a prime example of that kind of band. Here, they bring in elements of folk music into this album. Their sound fits their lyrics in a perfect way as well. When they are delving into a more Satanic lyrical theme, they progress toward a darker sound. When they move into Pagan lyrical themes, they incorporate more folk influence.
Rotting Christ is entirely original in their approach to black metal on this album. The vocals are neat and well-structured to fit their style, their guitars are heavy (with an occasional sick solo on a couple of these songs) and their songs are up-beat and fast. There really isn't any part on this album that leave one disappointed.
The vocals on the album were genious. Sometimes there are clean vocals and other times there are choral vocals. Sometimes there are speaking parts and mostly (suiting to black metal) the growls. The choral vocals on the songs gave it a much more Pagan and Greek feel to it. They were more than important on the lyrical themes discussing Pagan creation myths. The growling vocals aided to give these Pagan songs a more dark feeling to it. They were well-suited to the lyrical content.
The guitars were fast-tempo. They too, like the vocals, matched the lyrics quite well. Sometimes, you here a band and you say to yourself that while the band was musically talented, they were not so lyrically talented. Or maybe one thinks that they were lyrically gifted but their music just didn't match. This is not the case with this album.
Rotting Christ is from Greece and after listening to this album, one can affirm that they are from Greece. Their lyrics describe Pagan myths, they use Greek terms, and the folk influence they incorporate into this masterpiece gives an overall Pagan atmosphere. This is an excellent piece of Greek-styled black metal.
Ah yes, Greek black metal. Some of the most unique stuff you'll find out there when it comes to black metal is the stuff that comes from Greece. Thou Art Lord, Varathron, and of course, the infamous Rotting Christ. These guys are truly beastly, without a shadow of a doubt. For a while, I was completely unaware that the Greek black metal scene even existed. I was used to the corpse-paint, blast beats and shrieking of the Norwegians and Swedes. When I first heard Rotting Christ, they were quite phenomenal. They didn't sound like the typical Gorgoroth or Dark Funeral impersonator, in fact in many ways they were a hell of a lot better. But I'm going to stop performing fellatio on the band and talk about the damn album.
Theogonia was the first Rotting Christ album I heard, and it blew me away. The band incorporates many folk and gothic metal elements into their music while still retaining their black metal sound. They do it quite well, and they definitely put bands like Moonspell to shame. The production here is excellent, mainly because of the guitar and drum tones. The drums blast and pound away without losing its brutality or technicality. The drum tone only adds to the brutality and accents the drummer's talent. I've never heard a drum tone that sounded better than Litany by Vader, but this one comes quite close.
The guitars aren't as treble oriented as Sanctus Diavolos, and they don't create as much of an atmosphere, but the sound of the guitars definitely shines despite all of that. One some songs they have a tone that wouldn't sound out of place on a death metal record, like Enuma Elish. On other songs, like Nemecic, they sound more folk metal oriented and add to the rest of the instruments that you'd hear on that song. Nothing sounds out of place nor are any instruments buried under the others. Even the bass is surprisingly audible on this record, especially on songs like Keravnos Kivernitos.
Finally, the vocals are excellent. Don't expect your typical Gaahl or Dani Filth shriek on this record despite its black metal leanings. Sakis is one of the most unique vocalists in extreme metal, and nobody sounds anything like him. His signature raspy vocals are highlighted throughout this album along with some added vocals from the folk metal elements of the record. As I said before, nothing is out of place or odd about the arrangements of this album.
I'd definitely recommend this album to anyone who is interested in the Greek side of black metal, along with Sanctus Diavolos. Obviously this album isn't perfect, but it certainly comes close and is one of the best albums these guys have released.
Theogonia catch is this: modern (loud and booming) production, epic-slanted, and more along the lines of folk (from an ancient Greek / middle eastern standpoint). This sound is fresh and a welcome change when done right, and Rotting Christ, knowing how to incorporate other genres, are more than capable of handling this transition. Yet this isn't a transition album at all. The energy, the passion, the aggression - it all makes for another fresh, sophisticated full-length.
I'll have you know that middle eastern / eastern / ancient Greek / epic themes are cool. You get some bands that go overboard with it (which Rotting Christ move toward with Aealo), but Theogonia keeps it clean, short, and straightforward while sounding profound. This means credence to the riffs, leads, and the warlike rhythms. No sappy acoustic interludes or female vocals trying to reign in a politically correct, culturally sensitive horseshit. "Enuma Elish" does have this annoying guy in the back going "eueuaahahyeeeaaahah" as if he's doing the Islamic call to prayer. Not just once, but throughout most of the song this guy is doing that! The song brings intense atmosphere and ferocity to the ears and the keys do a fine job of maintaining some grand scope, but this fucker in the back kills the seriousness. I get what they were trying to go for, but damn does it get annoying.
Many thanks to Themis on this album for fascinating, non-technical drum patterns. His rolling, double bass battering style is awesome and completely fitting for this contextually-themed music. His kit is absolutely thunderous, and while the blast beats are fine, I prefer to hear the tense moments with an atmosphere of a coming battle and the consistent pounding of thick drum bass and robust snares. A fine mixing job for these drums without making them sound overpowered. The bass is the same way - well-defined and packed with fiery fatness. It backs up burly riffs with glossed heat and warmth. It's inviting, but not brutal, and the production isn't insanely polished despite being very well-produced.
Sakis' Sanctus Diavolos vocals remain here. Maybe with a little less viciousness, but still with the same concise execution. He's always sounds pumped and his rasping screams and growls absolutely dominate and are even catchy with particular songs. More use of his cleans show up, and not the whiny kind that one might think. With black metal of this caliber, that means a haunted chanting style and singing akin to that. Very creepy, but a welcome return with more appropriate, sparing use.
There are certainly more than a couple of great tracks on the album. The album as a whole has a level of gratification that's thoughtful and reinvigorating. Its heaviness, balance, well-written compositions, and matchless dignity make it one of Rotting Christ's best works. The level of quality doesn't diminish as one listens from start to finish, as the songs all hold well either from start to finish or from one to the next. Theogonia's flow is impeccable and calculated well for an exquisite, comprehensive listening experience. The gothic atmosphere has been dropped considerably, but the level of charm that made Rotting Christ's gothic-leaning albums as imposing as they were hasn't been lost.
Special attention and praise needs to be given to certain tracks. "Phobos' Synagogue"'s crushing riffs and steady, mid-paced rhythm is mammoth. It's the change from all the faster tracks that open the album. A great example of a song with less lead prowess but the same level of epic scope and nature. "He, The Aethyr" is the complete opposite, and one of my favorite Rotting Christ songs. The guitars at the beginning create a frenzy of harmonies and riffs, yet it keeps building up as the song progresses until it creates an absolutely beguiling solo section. The whole song is catchy, an a prime example showing the kind of leads that Rotting Christ have never failed to deliver. "Threnody" is the ominous closer, and that's ominous immediately when it starts. The chanting, pounding drums, odd-yet-melodic lead, and the continuous build-up. It's creepy yet heavy and compelling, and it ends in the same numinous way it started.
For Rotting Christ fans, Theogonia must not be passed up. Those that enjoy black metal anyway would be in their right minds checking this out. Newer fans wouldn't be in an awkward position starting with this, as it is indeed melodic without being poppy and heavy without committing too much brutality. That's the Rotting Christ way, and it's a fresh take on their winning formula.
After years of fiddling with their base, 90s formula, exploring exotic new vistas of Gothic-tinged sounds and ambient undercurrents, the persistent Rotting Christ would craft one of their most consistent and crushing career efforts. Mind you, this does not mean that they have abandoned ANY of such deviations, because Theogonia does it all, a microcosmos of their prior output delivered upon a new plateau of polished production that thankfully does not dissemble the pure power of the riffing here. You'll still hear the chanting, layered vocals and the tints of dark ambiance flushed beneath the hammering, metal matrix, but it seems this time the Greeks were after a level of heaviness they have rarely manifest.
For three tracks straight, Rotting Christ steamrolls its audience with slow, blasted surety, the measure and precise beats of Themis Tolis doing all they can to support the weighty textures above. Don't be thrown off by the funky, wah-wah ingredient of "The Sign of Prime Creation", because it is for the most part a stream of melodic black metal with the same, percussive pomp one might have heard even on their earlier 90s classics. "Nemecic" has a lot of darker, grooving chords churning about like well sculpted mud, but the ritual, whispered vocals of Sakis more than atone for its oozing visage. Once you arrive at "Enuma Elish", you get a power thrashing that evolves into some glorious, glinting melodic textures and escalating beats that bleed straight into the atmospheric, four-chord chorus.
But Theogonia becomes more interesting as you proceed, into the grooving variation of "Rege Diabolicus", ambient-gone-surging of "Helis Hyperion" or the grandiose finale "Threnody" and its tribal, percussive subtext, like a more modern take on the Triarchy of the Lost Lovers style. I wouldn't say there were more than a handful of individual riffs to die for here, so to that extent it doesn't match up with Genesis, Khronos, A Dead Poem or most of their better works, but the fact remains that the band keeps their composition kinetic, diverse and fascinating, with multiple layers at work in any given second, and much for the ear to consume. Tolis' vocals are strong and central to the lattice of intricate lead-spikes and lurching, jerking rhythm guitars, and it would be difficult to found an instance in its 43 minutes where the content truly sags below the level of consistent inspiration. That said, it does often come across like an amalgamation of their prior efforts, almost as if they grew wary of stepping forward, and so decided to stack the past 3 or 4 albums together like sheets of transparency paper and then flick on the overhead projector.
Rotting Christ came out of the sunny and hot Greece twenty years ago in order to position themselves like one of the best bands in the history of black metal. Throughout their nine studio albums, the band has never failed in terms of quality which makes them deserve the respect from the entire scene worldwide. Not a single album of theirs sounds similar to another.
Their latest work so far saw the light in 2007 with the name Theogonia, and displayed the inclusion of some ethnic melodies, belonging to the dry lands around the Mediterranean and also a professional choir making its renditions in Greek language. Sakis, the mastermind behind this brutal poem, took over the composition, production, mixing and mastering of the album, in other words he did everything.
The sophisticated and refined darkness deliveries that we got accustomed to in Khronos and Sanctus Diavolos, virtually disappear here, in order to give room to something more than a nostalgic glance to the past, because the band finds great inspiration in the speed and hostility from its early days. The constant blast beats and vertiginous tempo changes are back in the recipe. The sound is crystal clear yet brutal like a vision of the very Erebus.
The album opens with Χαοσ Γενετο (The Sign of Prime Creation), displaying a majestic black-metal-to-the-bone riff, which gives place for a delicious rhythmic section where Sakis voice comes in. Just like in the latest efforts of the band, Sakis throat finds itself way up front in the mix, maybe because the riffs are not so obvious (in order to understands this, you can refer to albums like A Dead Poem and Sleep of the Angels, where the primacy of technical and heavy riffs positioned the vocals in an almost second level).
In terms of lyrics, Theogonia deals with the Greek creationist myth, but the Enuma Elish (Mesopotamian version of creation) is also explored; add to this a couple references to the horned one and you’ll have a pretty much complete idea.
In Theogonia you will find everything, hyper heavy rhythmic guitars covered by tremolo riffs with an enormous hook, quality melodic passages like in Threnody, or the already mentioned ethnic sounds, being Nemecic the best example.
After two decades the band seems to be not exhausted at all, and on the contrary it keeps getting better with the years. Ever since the Khronos album in 2000, Rotting Christ has been escalating vigorously putting out masterpiece after masterpiece, without the need of neither changing style nor experimenting with anything; the formula has been pure honesty. Their next album begins to be recorded in two months from now so, we can officially become anxious.
Originally submitted to (http://www.metalicos.com) on June 15th, 2009.
Rotting Christ is a band I'm not really familiar with, and they've always been eclipsed by other things I had to listen to. I had heard that there were elements of Greek folk music in this album, and that was enough to get me to give Rotting Christ a serious listen for the first time.
To get the bad out of the way: undertones of the gothic persuasion lurk, and though tolerable, it's still not something I enjoy. There are certainly moments and riffs that are black metal, but as a whole, it has too much melodic death metal and gothic to call it black metal. Obviously, this album not being black metal is not a bad thing, it's simply that I was expecting it to be. Last but not least, this album is lacking aggression for the style. More speed alone would do this album good.
Now, there are a lot of good things I can say too. For one, there are a number of things that make this album quite distinct. Evil chants in Greek, a fitting and well done lyrical theme, and dark, lead driven riffs are part of this. Somber Hellenic sounding keyboards lay a great backdrop, especially when accompanied by aforementioned chants in Greek. One side of my family is Greek, and I've heard the language a lot in my life, but I didn't know it could sound so evil! It's strange how it sounds arcane and eldritch when put into these chants - it's simply awesome.
The scales used in Greek folk music are found mostly in Nemecic, Threnody, and Enuma Elish. Again, it is bizarre how it manages to come off as so dark, especially Enuma Elish. Well written, and dynamic songs that are a true homage to ancient Hellenic ways.
So, it could do with more aggression, and less gothic overtones, but it wins lots of praise for originality, character and thoughtful expression.
Following their successful album “Sanctus Diavolos”, the Greeks are back on track with their waited new album “Theogonia”. This is their 10th full-length studio album featuring 10 tracks and one of the first 2007 releases.
Fortunately, all the typical Rotting Christ elements are present in this album ranging from the operatic keyboard elements, the palm muted melodic riffs, pinches, choirs and some newly added traditional middle-east sounds (ex. Enuma Elish). In addition, songs like “The Sign of Prime Creation” contain Greek words adding the Greek element to the overall sound. It follows a similar path to their previous or “Sanctus Diavolos” except from the Greek-Eastern melodies which made it an enjoyable surprise, to me at least.
Starting with the title of the album, “Theogonia”, which is defined as the origin of Gods and the way existence appeared out of emptiness, makes the album a conceptual album thus, exploring the ways you come to life. Concerning the lyrical content and track titles, everything relates to “Theogonia” exploring this godly world relating to myths and history, a typical mesmerizing Rotting Christ aspect.
By all means, this is a complex album so there’s absolutely no way you can manage to get everything from the first spin. Solid drumming, high, low and mid-tempo tracks, scream blasts and the keyboard atmosphere add up to the perfect instrumentation. This is accompanied by the crystal-clear production of the album, their best one so far. Neither fuck-ups nor sound disharmonies lead to 43 minutes of flawless music. Every note, word and instrument in general can be heard perfectly which is a great plus to the whole image. Worth mentioning is Sakis vocals/vocal style which varies between songs, thus not giving your average singing approach.
The album is definitely not black metal or something like their older material, but I must say it’s worth equally the same attention. Originality of riffing and melodies is present everywhere especially in “Phobos’ Synagogue” and “Gaia Tellus” where you get the classic old-school in-your-face riffing by the Greeks. The horrifying atmospheric intro in “Rege Diabolicus” is just a winner while the eastern sounds in “Nemecic”, “Helios Hyperion” or “Threnody” are mind-blowing. Worth mentioning is the remarkable artwork and package of the whole piece.
After listening to the album quite a lot of times since the day it came out, the only phrase left to mention is Highly Recommended. If you don’t want anything other than their older material then stay away from it, on the other hand if you would like something as close as possible to the old stuff then this is a must for you. This is definitely one of the best 2007 releases so far and I believe it can’t get any better than that. Sakis proved once more what he’s capable of and we respond by saying we want more of it.
Song writing: 10/10
Band’s Performance: 8.5/10
"Theogonia" is the newest album by Rotting Christ, and it is probably their best effort since "Triarchy of the Lost Lovers". It is a significant improvement over the previous release, in much the same way "Khronos", "Genesis" and "Sanctus Diavolos" were significant improvements over their respective predecessors.
This is generally a no-nonsense disc from the very first in-your-face tunes to the last. The production is crystal-clear, in the spirit of "Sanctus Diavolos", with all instruments equally audible in the mix. One of the things that has always struck me with Rotting Christ is the audibility of the bass lines. This album brings fortunately no change in that respect.
Most traditional Rotting Christ elements are here: harmonic guitars (at times more elaborate than used to be the case), convenient tempo changes, modest choirs and synths, and quite some vocal variation from Sakis. It's much like their later albums not really black metal, but when considering the rawness of "Non Serviam", this is closer to it than anything since. But it's not appropriate here to think in boxes, for Rotting Christ has since long played outside any.
If you're looking for fast, shred-and-bloodshed killers, this is not the place. If you're into complex, well-aging little pieces of genius, hit play.
The opening track, as we've grown used to with later albums, takes little introduction (in this case just a few Greek words) to its essence, and pounds its way through the aether like "Visions Of A Blind Order", "Daemons", and "Thou Art Blind" do so characteristically. It must be no secret that these are the things I love Rotting Christ for. The only difference on "Theogonia" is that it is not followed by the usually more building-up, epic track like "Lex Talionis", but by another one that starts off by harmonically kicking your ass in order to remind you that it's not just another album, but a damn good one.
"Nemecic" calms down a bit, and exposes some oriental influences, which we'll see more of. "Enuma Elish" is something you have to get used to, because it's quite atypical. As most atypical things usually do (St. Anger being the exception), it may turn out better than it sounds at first hearing. There's some more oriental atmosphere in it; if I understood the lyrics, I might know why.
"Phobos' Synagogue" continues the slower path, and like "Nemecic" needed a couple of listens before its quality dawned on me, but with "Gaia Tellus" the album straightforwardly picks up again and doesn't let go anymore. "Rege Diabolicus" is for me the best track on here. It's short, clocking right under three minutes, and the 51 seconds of the intro subtracted from it makes for one of the shortest songs the band have done to date. Then are "He, The Aethyr" and "Helios Hyperion", which won't mess with you either, instead would gladly be my favourites to hear being played live.
"Threnody" then solemnly rounds off the album, the longest song of it, atmospheric and complex. It leaves one with the temptation to hit play again.
No tricks in here, Rotting Christ are (still) among the best in extreme metal, and if they were ever off it, the Greeks are back on track. Essentially, "Theogonia" qualitatively ranks among Rotting Christ's first three releases. More of it, please.
This is it, the new Rotting Christ "Theogonia". I managed to hear the song "Enuma Elish" when it was posted prior to the albums release and to be honest, I was quite disappointed. It sounded weird, and devoid of real melody and structure.
But I still decided to check the complete album out, since Rotting Christ is my favourite band, and it totally blew me away.
When I pressed play, "The Sign of Prime Creation" (a welcome nod back to the early days) started with Sakis chanting a Greek verse and BAM! - my ears were graced with an opening riff that could only be done by Rotting Christ. It sounded at least as excellent as the early albums! It instantly reminded me of The Mighty Contract/Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, which are my two favourite RC records. Sakis' vocals lost all effects and were as vicious and instantly memorable as ever. Themis' drumming sounded way more oldschool than in the last 5 albums and still added new things to the mix.
I was already on the edge of my seat and full of joy after "The Sign..." slowly faded out of my speakers..until the fade turned direction and BAM! - "Keravnos Kivernitos" bombarded me with the next oldschool Greek style riffage! At this time, I felt like I was commanded to bow to the almighty Rotting Christ and so I did!
But then I looked at the tracklist and saw that "Enuma Elish" was next. I didn't push the skip button though and decided to give it a chance. I listened to it a few times and I can say that my dislike for the song faded a bit - I still don't think it's a good song, but at least it's listenable.
After that little throwback "Gaia Tellus" came along with a damn good heavy riff, loaded with choirs and orchestrated parts, which fit surprisingly well. A damn catchy song, more in the vein of the recent Rotting Christ, but better. "Gaia Tellus" is also a song where the awesome production really shines. This is, along with Triarchy of the Lovers, the best produced RC album so far.
The next four tracks "Helios Hyperion", "Nemecic", "He, the Aethyr" and "Phobos' Synagogue" show increased technical prowess (especially the great "He, the Aethyr") and some very unusual, yet very interesting oriental influences (especially in the lead guitars). Sakis' vocal presence ranges from his typical raspy growl style to a few spoken word passages and clean choir singing while always being highly memorable. These 4 songs sound like the continuation and evolution of "Sanctus Diavolos". At least as, and at times even more experimental, but never as disjointed or direction-less that some of the previous album's songs were.
"Rege Diabolicus" is another fantastic nod back to oldschool Rotting Christ, especially the chorus has Thy Mighty Contract written all over it. It's just too damn short (2:52). The album closes with "Threnody" which is again very much influenced by the eastern orient. Chants, very strange lead guitar melodies but an overall amount of catchiness, so you won't forget a bit of the song after a few listens.
Memorability is the defining word on this record. "Theogonia" is a very complex album, but it comes equipped with enough hooks to make it a catchy, tasty package of great songs. I wish the album would have developed a bit more on the strength and amazing tremolo-melodies of the first two songs, because they are some of the best Rotting Christ songs ever, but "Theogonia" is still a consistent and strong album - in fact, in the opinion of this reviewer, their best since Triarchy of the Lost Lovers.
I recommend this to any fan of extreme metal and to fans of old and new Rotting Christ, because there is something for everyone. I can't wait to hear these songs live!
The Sign of Prime Creation
He, the Aethyr