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Goatmatic - 80%

OzzyApu, February 18th, 2012

Rotting Christ's first album, to me, is also their least impressive. It's the kickoff for all Rotting Christ fans since it begins the band's full-length venture, but for some fans it may also be the cut-off point (this or Non Serviam). That's because Thy Mighty Contract is unrefined, riff-curling black metal from start to finish. Say second wave black metal, and this album is up there in terms of composition with its Norwegian counterparts. In fact, Thy Mighty Contract is a tad more classy in its use of atmosphere and less on its image. Yes, it's balls deep in dark themes, blast beats, and rough production, but these riffs and the way they intertwine with the rest of the music show to the listener an attempt at something more magical.

Go in expecting mostly mid-paced songs and this bizarre aura of atmosphere behind it all. It's a strange feeling that won't be picked up immediately, but you'll notice it once you figure out that the music isn't aggressive, out-the-gates black metal assaulting your ears. Nothing of the likes of early Gorgoroth or mid-era Marduk, for sure. The keyboards are used to bring about this ethereal background (in a synthy manner), but the guitars were written with a melodic slant much of the same way they are in latter Rotting Christ albums. However, the powerful, rich guitar sound isn't as strong here as they are during the gothic or epic eras of the band. Instead, they're somewhat wirey, but still with some variable of a punchy blare. Above them are Sakis' tormented screams and hoarse growl/speak (sort of the wrong frosting on the right cake - no matter how tasty).

Themis on the drums has always been consistent with his own style, and that extends to this first album. That is, if he actually drummed on this album. To my knowledge, he didn't, but the drum machine employed does contain a style that isn't far off from the way he'd drum when he actually started to do so in recordings. This machine will dish out blast beats a lot of the time, but it'll also have mutual drum patterns to accompany the guitars that make up the finer points of the album. The snare sound in particular is a thin "tish" noise that's not so bad during workaround drum patterns, but during blast beats when I'm hearing it back-to-back for a few seconds makes it grating. Bass backup I wouldn't say is stellar, and for an album of this caliber I wouldn't knock it down too hard. This definitely isn't a cold or fast album, but it could use more than background bass blurbs in order to foster a more complete recording.

When the riffs, bass, and drums are in harmony at these points, that's where this album shines. These moments are very subtle in the way I'm describing them - there aren't any flash solos, glaring leads, or breaks during these moments. No, it's a subtle thing for an album such as this, and for this album in Rotting Christ's discography it works. However, it's what also kills this album in the face of Rotting Christ's later material since the inclusive, epic sound wasn't fully grasped. To still get a quick fix of what was done right as whole songs, listen to "Fgmenth, Thy Gift", "Dive The Deepest Abyss", and "His Sleeping Majesty". This album, though, works better as a whole listening experience, even when cherry picking songs it's able to adapt.