Review: Simple death metal beginnings introduce the start of the reign of Rotting Christ in black metal by law of signature riffs of rhythmic pulsing alternating with a directional breakdown synchronizing to vocal rhythms, textured into songs of verse chorus variations with occasional meta-chorus elements for a heavy metal throwback theatrical style. Where this is not as refined as releases to emerge later from this band, it carries an independent and violent spirit boldly.
1. Intro (1:06)
2. Aoh-Golgotha (The Old Coffin Spirit) (4:58)
3. The Forest of N'Gai (5:58)
4. The Mystical Meeting (Dog Spleh Esoth Sevlesmeth) (4:38)
5. Gloria De Domino Inferni (1:40)
6. Inside the Eye of Algend (6:02)
7. Feast of the Grand Whore (3:35)
8. The Forest of N'Gai (3:37)
Basic musical ideas direct choice of chords and notes but placement in complex tempos, within the phrase-pattern rhythms, distinguish melodies as the central themes of these songs. The shuffling wolflike roar of the vocalist beats out muted words against a wall of static over Venom-style basic drumming infused with death metal fills and high-hat precision. Emphatic repetition of rhythms based upon the phrasic enunciation of primary chorus phrases leads this material toward its own demise in repetition, but overall the pace keeps up with the rate of change.
Keyboards flood background channels with liquid electronoise while guitars and vocals interplay in foreground rhythmic lead, adding a distinctively folk-like compositional essence to the rudiments of metal, but at its heart this is death metal/heavy metal, a potent combination that later flowered to fast and melodic black metal.
Review: Most metal bands play rhythm only, because it's the easiest for the proles to grasp; some, wanting to be "different," decide to be melodic, but they lack subtlety and apply that melodic sensibility uniformly to the whole of the music, producing a headache of sweetened sound that by having no variation in consistency becomes background noise. Rotting Christ shows a clarity of vision by writing melodic metal that sparingly applies its beauty, and through attentiveness to the need for intense dynamic variation to create contrast so that its explicitly gentle and sonorous aspects make an impression, it captures what made Black Sabbath distinct from the rock music of the time: a grandly varied intensity coupled with a tendency to write riffs that reduce the accumulated harmony and motion to a simple, world-redefining conclusion; the operatic and theatrical aspects of metal songwriting come together in this momentous sound.
When most bands claim an epic sound, it means they dress up normal music with horns, long pauses, and whole-tone scales on harsichordish keyboards, but on this album, Rotting Christ shape classic heavy metal through the filter of black metal into something epic by its topic and content. Many of these riffs would not be out of place on a Judas Priest album but here they are organized into something more articulate, transcending the distracting nature of rock music for something both insightful and forceful in its emotional communication.
1. The Sign Of Evil Existence
2. Transform All Sufferings Into Plagues
3. Fgmenth, Thy Gift
4. His Sleeping Majesty
5. Exiled Archangels
6. Dive The Deepest Abyss
7. The Coronation Of The Serpent
8. The 4th Knight Of Revelation (Part I,II)
Vocals are rasping but gently dramatic, floating behind the music in a monotone that underscores the subtleties of each phrase. At times, it resembles the work of crooners of the 1950s whose goal was to stretch out each moment and hammer home each transition, more like storytellers than the rote-repetition singers of the current time. Britney Spears and Children of Bodom are alike in that they take a simple idea, dress it up in technique, and have nothing to say, thus are acceptable music but worthless as art. Rotting Christ is a transcendence of all of these pitfalls on this legendary tribute to the dark powers below.