Album Review – Rotting Christ – Rituals (2016)

Availability: Season of Mist, Blabbermouth, YouTube (Full album stream), and iTunes

In Nomine Dei Nostri comes in instantly with full blown enthusiasm, with dictating chants reminiscent of Greek Orthodox tradition, and combining chants of the military used for empowerment, before the vocalist comes through in a distorted voice in English, quoting the Satanic Bible. This song has incorporated both LeVayan and theistic Satanism into a lyrical context, combined with the occult surrounding satanic worship; thus acquainting us with the theme of the album – rituals.

Ze Nigmar’s introduction is more refined, and worldly with the usage of the duduk, an Armenian instrument, and then converts to the harsher notes of metal, with the duduk playing faintly in the background. The duduk was famously used in the film score for The Last Temptation of Christ, composed by Peter Gabriel, to draw the listeners and watchers of the film into ancient Middle Eastern times, and this song follows the same path; the entirety of the lyrics are spoken in Aramaic, the language connected to the biblical Jesus Christ (Yehoshua).

Elthe Kyrie dynamically turns to thrash, using a woman chanting in Greek in a craze to the Dark Lord Lucifer (Satan), referring to the entity as Kyrie originating from ‘kyrios’, meaning lord or master. The link is going back to the medieval period, where Satanic witches would lead covens in the dedication of theistic Satanism, practicing black magic and these practices are still continued today outside neo-Pagan and Wiccan practices.  In the mix of this are the heavy guitars, and drums and Sakis Tolis’ growling vocals.

Apage Satana travels back the military, perhaps tribal usage of the drums, referring to the titular tracks historical origin of ‘Apage’, loosely translated from Ancient Greek as ‘lead away’, which was not only used in the Middle Age military forces/armies as a battle cry, but also during Catholic exorcism as a means of forcing out Satan, or their daemonic legion out of a possessed body. Between the spoken lyrics, there are deranged cries, and distorted whispers, perhaps referring to the daemons that torment damned souls.

Les Iitanes de Satan – Fleurs du mal is entirely spoken in French, and is a cover of Les Litanes de Satan (The Litanies of Satan), from the volume  Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), written by Charles  Baudelaire in 1857, one of the most influential poets of the goth subculture movement, and Satanism.  The volume itself was heavily inspired by occultism; symbolism, specify satanic ritual, sex and alchemy. The poem is spoken amongst traditional death metal composition.

For a Voice of Thunder
and The Four Horsemen are the only two songs in fluent English, and take two completely different musical directions – For a Voice of Thunder takes in a form of a story being told to an audience, as an overseer watches a battle take place, continuing with the musical structure of death, as well as introducing aspects of doom, whilst The Four Horsemen whole construction is of doom metal, and even leans towards death/doom;  with mournful tones, referring to the heavy hearts as the Apocalypse takes shape.

Komx Om Pax
brings back the usage of chanting, and this time, it has a genuine Greek Orthodox presence, unlike Nomine Del Nostri, which seemed to be mocking the practice; in addition to this, there is a distance despairing cry in the background, using the same female guest vocalist on Elthe Kyrie.  The chanting then takes an apocalyptic turn, presenting pending doom. Komx Om Pax is influenced by the works of Aleister Crowley, primarily the essay of the same name (Konx Om Pax) from 1907. Devadevam follows on with the religious chanting, and takes the mourning tone of The Four Horseman, but this time takes the spiritual rituals of Buddhism, speaking of enlightenment, the chants being Asian in origin.

Tou Thanatou, not dissimilar to Elthe Kyrie, contains hints of thrash in places, but doesn’t lose the death metal sound, as well as not losing the military chanting which opened up the album’s narrative, only this time; there is a triumphant connotation, reminiscent to what you’ll expect from power and pagan metal bands. Interestingly, this song in particular was the most instrumental of the entire soundtrack, and once again comes to use an instrument common during the middle ages, specifically in medieval Europe, the shawn; the earliest known two-reed instrument and the predecessor of the oboe, similar to the duduk.

Lok’tar Ogar is the last song of the album, as well as a bonus track, and as the title of the song suggests… at least one of the members, or all the members of Rotting Christ is/are fan of World of Warcraft, as the titular track originates from the Orc language, translating to ‘Victory of death’, and is a battle cry by the Horde faction (as I have yet to play the games, I am having to look this up). In fact, the entire song is spoken in Orcish; this is going to make you World of Warcraft fans out there very, very, very happy.

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