For the last few years ROTTING CHRIST seem to have nicely found their niche in the Metal scene, combining the Black Metal of their early days with some Gothic atmosphere of the middle and a very characteristic atmosphere of the newer days, culminating in the mighty “Aealo” in 2010, only barely being edged out of the top spot of 2010 by BLIND GUARDIAN.
Shrunk to the brotherly duo of Sakis and Themis Tolis, they now deliver their eleventh album, “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy” (Greek for "True to his own spirit") and it is a tall order to follow up such an incredible album as “Aealo”, but then again, they had managed to top “Theogonia” back then as well... Staying true to the title, ROTTING CHRIST anno 2013 have stayed true to their own spirit, but without copying themselves.
Just like the predecessor, “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy” has this almost magical combination between utter heaviness, great melodies, grand atmosphere and character that just oozes power and dynamics and in the end stands alone in terms of originality as well. Opener “In Yumen - Xibalba” sets out with a brooding, slow riff and spoken words, conjuring images of impending doom, before the actual song begins after about a minute 50 and seriously increases the speed, yet the keyboards lurking beneath the frenetic pace and Sakis’ harsh voice, make this a truly big song that has volume and body, flattening anybody trying to stand in its path, sweetened, though, but these characteristic ROTTING CHRIST melodies that have made them so special in the past.
Just like before, we are treated to choirs that are not used to fill holes, but to intensify the already intense atmosphere the Greek convey, as portrayed in the almost sacral choir at the beginning of “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos”, and also the unusual influences are back, like on the title track, where the bagpipe (?) brings in a very unique touch. And that the duo is not only sticking to their guns is once more proven by “Cine iubeşte şi lasă", a traditional Romanian song, which has been adapted by Suzana & Eleni Vougioukli, starting with piano and eerie female vocals before turning into a mid-paced track that unites Sakis and Suzana’s voices. Also worth mentioning is “Ahura Mazdā-Aŋra Mainiuu”, which once more brings Suzana and Eleni as guest vocalists into an overall again very dark, variable and powerful track.
And it is this adventurousness that keeps propelling ROTTING CHRIST forward and avoids stagnation, with them staying true to their own spirit while expanding their horizons, surely taking some risks by stepping out of the comfort zone (see also the lyrics of song "Χ ξ ς" being based on the book of revelation of Saint John the Divine, which also musically has this special and intense atmosphere). That the production once more is strong, powerful and clear, aids the many different details the Greek duo is putting into its compositions
If the expectation was for ROTTING CHRIST to outdo “Aealo”, then I must say they did not fully achieve that, but “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy” is another outstanding album that combines Black Metal, orchestral atmospheres, a defiant edge and plenty of originality into a proud statement of Greek Metal that will manifest ROTTING CHRIST’s status as one of the forerunners of the genre.
(Online March 1, 2013)