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Rotting Christ's continuing path of improvement - 85%

Zaphod, February 24th, 2007

"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.