Greek metal giants Rotting Christ
formed in Athens back in 1987. Over the decades, they have gained a massive following, with records such as “Theogonia” in 2007 and “Aealo” in 2010 being hits among audiences. Later on, 2016 would witness the release of their twelfth full-length album called “Rituals.”
is a band unlike any other I’ve heard before. A few years back, my older brother showed me two of their songs, “Aealo” and “Enuma Elish
.” At first, I didn’t think much of them, since they were a bit too unpolished and somewhat unorthodox for my taste. Over time, however, aforementioned songs began to grow on me, and I became very interested in what they had to offer. I would eventually write a review for their previous full-length “Kata Ton
Daimona Eaytoy” back in 2013, praising it for its uniquely raw and theatrical sound. So naturally, when I found out the band was releasing a new album early this year, I was very interested in hearing what they were putting out next. What I found is that “Rituals” not only surpasses any of the band’s previous efforts, but it also may be the best record to grace this year.
Upon my first listen, what immediately struck me about it was just how enormous it sounds. This is thanks to both the musicianship and the sound production. For the former, elements such as the warrior-like incantations and vocals in “In Nomini Dei Nostri” and “Apage Satana,” the marching drums and percussion (Especially in songs such as “Ze Nigmar” and “Kom Om Pax
”), the soaring guitar riffs, and so on, make for this grandiose aura that few bands I’ve ever listened to could achieve. Other bits, including the haunting bagpipe melodies in “Tou Thanatou” and the intense shouted chants in “Elthe Kyrie” by theater actress Danai Katsameni, push things even further, adding more to the album’s highly epic atmosphere.
As for the sound production, "Rituals" also stands tall and heavy in how it’s mixed. Courtesy of frontman Sakis Tolis and producer Jens Bogren (Katatonia
, Fleshgod Apocalypse
), both the vocals and instruments sound incredibly meaty and resonant. To elaborate, they’re very tight, solid, and have an incredible amount of punch to them. At the same time, however, they also have an incredible amount of ambiance to them as well; as previously stated, everything in the record sounds huge, and because of that, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the music's environment in just the first few seconds of listening (Which is pretty much what happened to me). Both
the instrumentation and sound mixing work together perfectly to make for a formidable powerhouse of atmosphere and brutality.
On top of all that, "Rituals" also proves to be not only cinematic, but quite blood-pumping as well. For instance, it opens with "In Nomini Dei Nostri" making its entrance through an intense vocal chant ("Hail
Pan, Hail Lilith
Na'ma...) before exploding into a maelstrom of blistering guitar riffs and blast beats. It grips the audience instantaneously and gives off a perfect first impression for what they're in for. The steam doesn't stop there, however; tracks such as "Kom Om Pax
" and "Elthe Kyrie" are especially exhilarating with rapid-fire pacing and ferocious musicianship. Songs like these would be great to play during some huge, medieval battle due to how large-in-scale and darkly invigorating they are.
This isn’t to say that the more slower-paced tracks aren’t just as empowering. Songs such as "Ze Nigmar" and “Apage Satana" are the forerunners of this point. Both
songs, though clearly distinct from one another, do follow a similar speed and structure; they have a steady, march-like rhythm that comes off as very ominous and no-less explosive. For the former track, the bending guitar notes help give the song this rather sludgy vibe to it that lays the atmosphere thick on the audience. As for the latter, the ritualistic chants and percussion definitely give it this tribal-like environment, coming off as both intimidating and compelling. This proves the album's great sense of dynamic and power, which is a key aspect of what makes it such an impressive effort.
Another important characteristic of “Rituals” is its impressive sense of simplicity. In an interview with Outburn Magazine (Issue #83, to be specific), Sakis Tolis said that “[he] tried to express [his] feelings with fewer riffs and paid special attention to atmosphere.” The songs aren’t overwhelmingly technical in how they are written, but they are no less deep and effective. Each song has few riffs and a rather steady but progressive structure, but are still very dynamic and exciting both as individual tracks and as a whole collection of tracks. The music’s power lies in its ambiance and instrumental prowess and layering, and that’s all the record needs to deliver its effect.
For an example, “Kom Om Pax
,” as stated earlier, begins as a rather slow march composed of steadily-paced drums, vocal choirs, and almost doom-like guitar riffs. The chaos, however, really hits over a minute into the song, with the remaining time occupied by a whirlwind of chanting vocals, blast beats and chugging guitars. That
’s really the song’s structure in a nutshell: It starts off slow, but soon shifts into a much faster velocity. There’s no sort of overly complicated writing to the track, but here’s the thing: It doesn’t need it, just like all the other songs here; its incredible detail and ambiance are more than enough to carry its weight. I always admire it when an artist, band/musician, etc. can achieve an emotional effect using little, and Rotting Christ
is a shining example of that.
“Rituals” is a phenomenal album in pretty much every facet. It utterly dominates in terms of both vigor and atmosphere, and the musicianship, production, and writing all pass with flying colors. Each song has something different and stimulating to offer, but as a singular piece, they work off of one another greatly, making for a very dynamic and impressive release. It's definitely an easy contender for album of 2016, and anyone looking for something raw, epic, haunting, and all-around empowering will no doubt get their fix here. “Rituals” is a musical triumph.
Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/