A new Rotting Christ‘s album cannot but have the character of an event. Clearly we are talking about one of the most important and long-lived bands of the European extreme scene, if we think that it’s close to the goal of the thirtieth year of activity and this should already be enough to explain the importance of the group founded by the Tolis brothers. Rituals is the twelfth full length and does not decrease the average quality of the releases of the Athenian band: as it can be guessed from the title, to prevail is the purely ritual aspect of the songs, which often turn out to be real choral invocations; already the opener In Nomine Dei Nostri exhibits without mediation its appearance of blasphemous prayer that perfectly keeps faith with the moniker, but everything in Rotting Christ does not happen with the adolescent ways of some bands that think it’s enough to exhibit face painting to appear threatening, but with the maturity of complete and above all credible musicians. In such a long career, Sakis has taken different stylistic directions, from the grind of the first demos to the peculiar black metal of the first four works (with the peaks of Non Serviam and Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers), then with the gothic turn of A Dead Poem and Sleep Of The Angels, to come back to his own practices with Kronos up to Theogonia and finally to arrive, in this decade, to more epic releases, sometimes even folk, and if possible more rooted in the history of the Hellenic nation. If it’s true that the last fundamental album published by ours was Theogonia, dated 2007, it must be said that a lesser brilliance of the songwriting found in the last works has been well compensated by a greater care of the details, starting from the production to get to the contribution of the different guests that, from Aealo onwards, turns out to be a pleasant constant. If at that time shone the presence of an absolute star like Diamanda Galas (not to mention a certain Alan Averill), in Rituals stands out the participation of Vorph of Samael, sort of Swiss counterparts of Rotting Christ, and Nick Holmes of the seminal Paradise Lost. Having said the excellent opening track (with the contribution of another icon of the Greek scene as Magus) and the goodness of the episodes that see the work of the two illustrious guests (Les Litanies De Satan with Vorph and For A Voice Like Thunder with Holmes), the song that most strikes for intensity is Elthe Kyrie, a sort of musical representation of the Greek tragedy, with a lot of acting by an actress of the National Theatre (Danai Katsameni): here we also find again the classic guitar progressions that, if on the one hand, may appear a form of self-quotationism, on the other hand constitute a real recognizable trademark for Rotting Christ. On the contrary, Devadevam is a bit weak and slightly out of context, with Kathir from Singapore’s Rudra to provide an imprint too particular to the song, while some repetitiveness (Apage Satana) weighs down only partially a work that on the whole does not disappoint, also because, as said, if the inspiration that pervaded records like Non Serviam and Theogonia is now manifested only in flashes, this lack is largely compensated by the craftsmanship and charisma of a band able to bind with ease the different ideas that are made to flow into the work. Ultimately, Rotting Christ are confirmed with Rituals among the leaders of the extreme scene of our continent, by virtue of a peculiar sound that, between highs (many) and lows (rare), has contributed to consolidate a fame deservedly acquired during a long history but that still seems far from being at its end.
2016 – Season of Mist