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ΑΠΟΚΑΘΗΛΩΣΙΣ (1993)
 

Released by Osmose Productions in 1993, the ΑΠΟΚΑΘΗΛΩΣΙΣ E.P. was one of the recordings that bridged the gap between Passage to Arcturo and Thy Mighty Contract. The style is quite similar to what would be found on Rotting Christ's debut album, though the overall sound possesses more rough edges.

"Visions of the Dead Lovers" starts this 7" out, showing a more developed sense of songwriting and a level of skill on par with that of Thy Mighty Contract. This one song demonstrates that the band had, undoubtedly, found their identity by this point. This track features a lot of faster riffs, implementing the staccato riffing that would become the band's trademark. This is aided by pummeling drumming and an epic guitar solo. A song like this was more than enough to show the world that the Hellenic Black Metal scene was worth taking notice of.

The re-recorded version of "The Mystical Meeting" flows much more naturally than the one on Passage to Arcturo, as much a result of the production as of the actual playing, itself. The mix was off, on the original, with the drums being far too high and distracting from everything else that was going on. Here, the song is able to be appreciated in its intended form and one can detect the increased confidence with which the band executed this track.

Only containing two tracks, ΑΠΟΚΑΘΗΛΩΣΙΣ would hardly be considered essential, by most yet the quality of the material demands your attention and proves to be quite worthy of the time and effort to track down. Thankfully, for those that do not desire to obtain the original, these songs are available on the reissue of the band's first L.P.
 
(16 Jan. 2012)

 
Thy Mighty Contract (1993)
 
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Thy Mighty Contract is the first full-length album from Greece's Rotting Christ. After some demos and EPs, the bands sound shifted from a more grindcore sound toward Black Metal. This album is very symbolic for the band, as it possesses the raw and aggressive feeling from the early days while also displaying the melody and dark atmospheres that the band would come to be known for.

I discovered Rotting Christ while listening to "The Haunted Mansion", several years ago. The song, "Iced Shaped God", was from the band's second LP, Non Serviam. It took a long time for me to track that down, and I actually only acquired it due to my girlfriend's kindness. After properly digesting that album, I sought more Rotting Christ but was not as pleased with Triarchy of the Lost Lovers. Over a year would pass before I got my hands on Thy Mighty Contract, which impressed me from the very first listen.

"The Sign of Evil Existence" begins with a very ominous tone. The usual staccato rhythmic, yet melodic, riffing is present from the very start along with some added keyboards for effect. The build-up is brief, but effective. This song unleashes lightning fast, razor-sharp riffs and high, raspy vocals. The album immediately slices the listener's throat with this one. It's brief, but definitely sets the tone for things to come.

"Transform All Sufferings Into Plagues" is next, and begins much slower than the previous song. It is reminiscent of early Tiamat or Varathron, in the atmosphere and approach. This song features nice harmonized riffs, as well as some slower doom riffs and even some keyboard usage. There is a nice solo, near the end, before the pace slows back down.

There is a strong Heavy Metal influence to this album, which is very apparent. Also, the bass has a more prominent role, at time, giving a more organic feel to the music. Often, the harmonized riffs are supported by slower power chords, giving an epic feeling of doom. There is no shortage of memorable riffs on Thy Mighty Contract, which is pretty typical with Greek Black Metal. The vocals range from the dry and raspy vocals, heard on the opening song, to more throaty deathlike vocals. They synth is present only when needed, adding to the atmosphere but never overpowering the sound. This is handled by Magus Wampyr Daoloth of Necromantia, who also provides some vocals. "Exiled Archangel" even features a spoken passage. One of the true hihglights of this album (there are many) has to be "The Coronation of the Serpent". From the evil and instense beginning, this song goes on to be quite epic in nature. This is a good lead-in to the final song, "The Fourth Knight of Revelation".

On this album, Rotting Christ does well to combine the occult Black Metal atmosphere with the melodic Heavy Metal influences and create something mystical and unique. Along with Varathron's His Majesty At the Swamp and Necromantia's Crossing the Fiery Path, this is one of the cornerstones of Greek Black Metal and it is highly recommended that you pick this up or suffer impalement.

(9 Nov. 2008)

 
Non Serviam (1994)
 

Released in October 1994, Non Serviam is the second full-length album from the Greek Black Metal band, Rotting Christ. It was released by Unisound Records and, apparently, they did little to promote this great record. I've read that the album was somewhat rushed, not getting the proper time for mastering. Maybe that accounts for the low sound on my CD. At any rate, it matters little as this is an incredible release.

My first exposure to Rotting Christ came from hearing the song "Ice Shaped God", on 'The Haunted Mansion'. Idiotically, I recall thinking the guy said it was "I Shape God" at first, so it took a little while before I was even aware of the correct title. Over time, I'd go on to record a couple more songs from the radio, that came off of this album. I was instantly hooked and began searching for the CD. I spent several years, keeping an eye out for this thing, without luck. It wasn't until a few years ago that someone gave it to me, as a gift, thus ending my quest. Prior to this, I'd nearly worn out the tape that had those few songs from Non Serviam, so I was quite eager to hear more. One winter night, with the open window allowing cold air to flow through the room and only a few candles to illuminate the proceedings, I experienced it as a whole. I wasn't disappointed.

Throughout the album, you will find a variety of tempos, ranging from mid-paced and majestic to much faster sections that are filled with intensity. The drums blast away as the staccato riffing sends you into a trance. This is accompanied by utilization of keyboards, which is more than on Thy Mighty Contract but still not too much, by any means. The production seems kind of soft, lacking an edge, being somewhat reminiscent of Tales From the Thousand Lakes, by Amorphis. The heavier doom riffs are a good contrast to the faster ones, giving off an epic feeling that was present in earlier songs, such as "The Fourth Knight of Revelation". The melodies are quite memorable and introspective, at the same time, though not in a depressive way. As well, the vocals are still quite unrestrained and feral. Magus Wampyr Daolith (of Necromantia) adds some back-up to Necromayhem's vocals, in some places. His style is more high-pitched and raspy, giving a nice effect.

Overall, the record has a more melodic sound, being much slower and taking its time to build up, with some assistance from the keyboards as well. The sound is a little thicker and more bottom-heavy than one would expect, though the muddy guitar sound is likely a result of the limited time they had as opposed to any direct desire. The riffs are absolutely haunting, being very memorable and easy to follow, even during the faster parts. The lead solos do well to add depth to the songs, also. The sound is powerful and crushing, yet epic and flowing. There is an intensity and passion that borders on pure madness, found here.

It's nearly impossible to select any particular song as a stand-out track, as there is an incredible cohesiveness throughout. It's not a matter of one or two songs standing above the rest. The whole album is very consistent in its delivery, as there is not one bit of filler. From the vicious speed riffing of "The Fifth Illusion" and "Where Mortals Have No Pride" to the more overtly melodic riffs of "Non Serviam" and "Mephesis of Black Crystal", this L.P. filters a lot of traditional Heavy Metal structures through the Hellenic Black Metal style. Every song is like a mini-epic, containing various shifts in pace and feeling, each melody building upon the previous one. Also worth noting is that, on this release, Rotting Christ doesn't sound nearly as similar to Varathron as on the previous outing. It is also interesting that, excluding "Fethroesforia", this album seems to follow the same pattern set by Thy Mighty Contract. Just compare the two, track by track, to see what I mean.

In the end, despite whatever shortcomings the band were dissatisfied with, Non Serviam is an excellent record that deserves to be explored by anyone interested in the Greek Black Metal scene. For those that think Black Metal was something limited to Scandinavia, around the early-to-mid 90s, seek out the earliest works of Samael, Master's Hammer and, of course, Rotting Christ.
 
(24 Aug. 2009)

 
 

The third full-length album from Rotting Christ, Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, was released on Century Media Records in August 1996. This effort takes the style that was established on Thy Mighty Contract and Non Serviam to its logical conclusion, with more emphasis on the melodic aspects. Though this is the final L.P. from the band's classic period, it may take a few listens to grow on you, due to some of the changes.

The material on Triarchy of the Lost Lovers is more mid-paced, in general, than on the previous albums. Despite the fact that those records featured a decent amount of slower riffs, Rotting Christ really takes the time to develop this aspect of their sound and to limit the use of faster parts. As a result, much of the music here has more of an epic feeling than before. This is also strengthened by the increased utilization of lead solos, which are all over the place. Rather than speeding through and doing very little, the leads do well to accentuate the atmosphere. The playing is very tight and it is clear that the band has full control over what is going on. The synth is still being employed, though still in a more subtle manner. The vocals feature much less of the higher-pitched, raspier screams than before. That is unfortunate, though the style of the music really leaves less room for this approach. Otherwise, Necromayhem sounds quite the same as on the last couple records. The drumming sounds more realistic, this time around. Though Sauron was credited on the previous albums, the percussion sounded exactly the same as the drum machine used for Thou Art Lord. While the band's other full-length albums were not exactly primitive, there was still room for straightforward tracks like "The Sign of Evil Existence". Here, nearly every song is much more thought-out and rather complicated, with a variety of tempos and riffs. The music features similar doom-inspiring riffs as those found on Non Serviam, just less stripped-down and more melodic. There are still a good number of the band's trademark staccato riffs, though employed at a slower pace. Between the songwriting and the mix, itself, this album has more of a cold feeling as opposed to the warmer feeling of its predecessor. The end result is strong material that holds up, over time, with unforgettable melodies that are difficult to shake. "King of a Stellar War", "Snowing Still" and "One With the Forest" are some of the best examples and serve as highlights of the album.

The production is one of the things that may turn some people off, perhaps as much as the title itself. It is much clearer than on the band's previous material. In truth, it is a little over-produced. However, with the style of music that is presented on Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, it is not as if it would have benefited that much from a necro sound. Given that the music is so much more melodic and epic than on the earlier works by Rotting Christ, the production is rather appropriate. The guitars dominate the soundscape, while not really being pushed too high in the mix. While each instrument can be heard very easily, the riffs are highlighted and the rest is obviously there to support the guitars, instead of distracting from them. The overall sound is more dynamic than the last album, which sounds sort of flat by comparison.

Triarchy of the Lost Lovers is a solid record. It sacrifices speed and intensity for melody and an epic feel, which seems like a natural progression from the last couple of albums. With this release, there is no shift in style; rather, the band's sound has evolved and certain elements have grown in prominence. For the most part, all of the songs are pretty consistent and carry their own weight. This is the last Rotting Christ album worth getting and should appeal to fans of Thy Mighty Contract and Non Serviam, as long as you can get past the slower pace and the more polished sound. There is an absence of any type of dark or evil atmosphere, but this L.P. possesses a character of its own that makes it a unique addition to the band's discography. Give this a chance.
 
(28 Dec. 2011)

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