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Old 2007-02-18, 16:02
johnmansley's Avatar
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Rotting Christ - Theogonia

Rotting Christ
Season of Mist (2007)

Black metal is a genre that in the normal course of proceedings offers no interest to this particular reviewer, with the main notable exception being the supreme genius of Norway’s darkest sons, Emperor. Ridiculous prancing amongst undergrowth with plastic battleaxes and pseudo-King Diamond poses in tow, coupled with deliberately bad album production as a means to enhance underground credibility/sell the listener short (delete where applicable) is not for me.

Once in a while, however, a particular troupe will come to my attention and simply demand they be heard. Greek stalwarts Rotting Christ are currently filling this description, and filling it with style. Theogonia isn’t merely constrained within the limits of black metal; as an album, it is equally at home rubbing shoulders with any extreme metal record of the millennium thus far.

Theogonia bristles with militaristic might and Mediterranean flourishes potent enough to rouse serpents skywards from their slumber. Front man, and creative hub, Sakis’ delivery of both should go far to cement himself a position of prominence atop of black metal’s visionaries. His “Nemesis, Nemesis” refrain of Nemecic is the sinister menace Elgar shunned in favour of his more regal marches. Sakis masterfully invites the listener to be the embattled and the empowered in equal quantities, and Theogonia’s musical themes conjure the feeling that the listener is fighting a brutal and bloody battle in the searing Mediterranean heat.

The consistency of material on offer is of as high a standard as I’ve heard and as with most great albums, the track listing is carefully considered to perfection. The production – also handled by the prodigious Sakis – is powerful without ever giving too much prominence to any particular instrument, although the syncopated – almost industrial – rhythms on show benefit hugely from a good deal of attention to the low end. This is non-more evident than on the aforementioned Nemecic and following track Enuma Elish, which gallops ominously to the front line to revel in the carnage.

Sakis’ vocals interchange seamlessly between the commanding dictator’s bark and the more standard black metal delivery, reminiscent of Nergal and Satyr trying to outdo each other. Again, the excellent production gives added muscle to the vox at precisely the right times.

The interaction between keys, guitar and bass combine for an expansive platter of harmonic variations, which are explored in full by the compositional mastery of Sakis. Make no bones about it, the ten songs comprising Theogonia are expertly crafted and Sakis appears to be at the stage in his career of complete control of his creative powers. This enlightenment particularly manifests in his lead work, which occasionally bows a knowing nod to Messrs Harris and Murray.

Rotting Christ have tread the boards for nigh on twenty years now and with their new found confidence to fully integrate their Mediterranean influences they are now ready to make the move to the more lucrative of extreme music’s echelons. With Theogonia under their belts and sitting comfortably as a potential album of the year, Rotting Christ possess the perfect arsenal with which to do so.

Album of the day:

Red Sparowes - At the Soundless Dawn

Last edited by johnmansley : 2007-02-19 at 12:39. Reason: Minor formatting

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