Rotting Christ - Rituals
Season Of Mist
Dark Epic Metal
10 songs (49'05")
Release year: 2016
Rotting Christ, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex

Greek Rotting Christ are an institution that needs no introduction. When Tolis Brothers & Co started it was specifically a black metal institution, but one can hardly call them purely black metal now for a while. Beginning with probably around Theogonia the Greeks were on a pathway I would call dark epic metal and, frankly, Rituals is an apogee of this trajectory, foreshadowed by the previous pair of albums Aealo and ???? ??? ??????? ??????. You could just sense Rotting Christ coming up with an album exactly like Rituals, they were marching towards it inexorably.

Not so much varied in terms of melodic inclinations, and pretty frugal in terms of intricate guitar work, yet full of purposeful driven chords, starting with the opener In Nomine Dei Nostri Rotting Christ is on a mission to provide their own determined interpretation of incantations to every pagan, or otherwise, God in a book. Powered forward by tribal, repeating and towering drums, sprinkled with orchestral arrangements where appropriate and voiced by multilayered vocals part call to war part spiritual worship, songs on Rituals unfold one after another steadfastly and without fail.

The above description, fortunately or not, depending on whether you are a fan of the latter days Rotting Christ, applies to a lot of what can be heard on Rituals. Few bands can be so precise and absolutely devastating rhythmically (Moonspell the only one coming to mind right now), turning songs like Les Litanies de Satan and Apage Satana into full-blown powerful bombastic attacks, where opening chords from these two cuts could serve as merely intros for many other bands. I could question the musicality of Apage Satana all I want, but when the album's title is Rituals, the huge sound bringing to mind disturbing visuals is exactly what the song conjures.

When Rotting Christ decide to broaden the palette a little, they achieve the most impact on the album, yet these moments are sparse. Slower and stretchy fabric of Ze Nigmar does not subtract anything from dark deity worship, choruses behind his personal call only magnifying the effect. Fleeting fast-beat Elthe Kyrie with hysterical female screams trading off with Sakis’ overpowering bellows, some inklings of a native instrument and fantastic captivating solo is one of the best tracks on Rituals. In fact, where Rotting Christ did indulge in some, even minute, guitar solo work (In Nomine Dei Nostri and Elthe Kyrie), they absolutely vaulted those compositions over the top. For a Voice Like Thunder with its spoken passage, gloomy atmosphere and massive bass also etched in memory.

Yet, beginning somewhere around Konx om Pax, Rituals began to stagnate for me. You can't just get any more monumental than you already are, and the sense of repeating things and anticipating of what is coming builds in. The compositions themselves do not last overly long, but you just know what happens after some point. There is only so much time you can sit on the same throne imagining yourself a Lord of the Dark. Faster tempo folky Tou Thanatou does break up the monotony for a brief moment, but The Four Horsemen moves it very much back onto the plane Konx om Pax and Devadevam mined without leaving stones unturned.

Powerful and tribal, unique in a sense, but very leveled and even-keeled with few, if any, splashes, this is how Rituals presents itself. If you consider yourself a fan of the Rotting Christ of late, Rituals will be very much the album you need to get. The Greeks were on an expedition to bring you occult worship from around the world, and this is the fruits of their pursuit. I know I will enjoy playing some of these dark hymns, separately and one at a time, but probably not the whole of Rituals from start to finish. From this latest chapter of the band’s discography I still prefer Aealo, with a lot less bombast or polish, but with a lot more spirit and charisma. If you pined for the return of Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, A Dead Poem, or even further back like Thy Mighty Contract or Non Serviam those days are probably irretrievably gone.

Killing Songs :
In Nomine Dei Nostri, Elthe Kyrie, Les Fleurs Du Mal, Apage Satana, Tou Thanatou
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Rotting Christ that we have reviewed:
Rotting Christ - A Dead Poem reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Rotting Christ - Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy reviewed by Alex and quoted 75 / 100
Rotting Christ - Thy Mighty Contract reviewed by Tony and quoted 93 / 100
Rotting Christ - Aealo reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Rotting Christ - Theogonia reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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