Coinciding with the 20th band and 15th recording anniversary Greek scene stalwarts ROTTING CHRIST are back with another sonic assault, titled "Theogonia". They went through a big evolution throughout the years and definitely have found their own niche in the Metal scene, not least thanks to the very characteristic voice of fronter Sakis Tolis and also the atmosphere they build up in their compositions.
For "Theogonia" Sakis is exceeding his former role as sole songwriter and now also has taken over the duties of producer and mastering tech, so to say that ROTTING CHRIST are Sakis hits the nail pretty much on the head. And the first effort after their switch of their long-standing business partner Century Media to French/American co-operative Season Of Mist has turned out to be one of the best these Southerners have released throughout their long career!
Opener "The Sign Of Prime Creation" at first gives us some spoken word, before furious drumwork sets in, over which a great typically majestic ROTTING CHRIST riff takes its place to offer the listener warmth amidst rhythmic variety, grand melodies and an excellent choir, making this a memorable effort from the get-go on. Even only now it becomes obvious that the Greeks have found an almost perfect balance between Black Metallic fury, some Gothic-influenced melodies, the choir and the courage to try a few not so usual elements in their sound, to the best effect!
And this is greatly continued with "Keravnos Kivernitos", a very (and I mean VERY) intense track, after which I was taken aback quite a bit by "Enuma Elish", which I had not expected at all. Fast, with an almost Industrial feeling, it sounds cold and mostly lacks the atmosphere and structure ROTTING CHRIST are known for (only after two minutes the whole thing actually sounds like the band), knowing the first two tracks now and that this particular song here has been released as first taster for the album, this one can lead people on the completely wrong track, not a bad track, but to me the weakest link on the whole album due to the first two minutes!
Thankfully the band is right back on track with "Gaia Tellus" right after, once more concocting this utterly compelling mixture as described earlier, also thanks to the very good use of the choir, but never getting repetitive, which makes "Theogonia" a surefire future classic! And that they are not afraid of trying out new stuff, listen to "Nemecic" and the classic Greek instrument zournas, which is a flute-like construction, which gives the song a pretty unique sound.
The continuing evolution of the band makes it hard to really rank the albums among each other, but "Theogonia" stands very, very high up there in their career and if you like this style, I URGE you to give it a listen and buy it (not download it, quality has to be supported by actually doing the right thing and buy it!)!
(Online January 26, 2007)