Review: Rotting Christ “Pro Xristou” [Season of Mist]

Review: Rotting Christ “Pro Xristou” [Season of Mist]

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For the 35 years of existence, Rotting Christ have come a long way in searching of their own, specific sound. At the beginning it was a raw noise, which is closer to grindcore (total underground), which later was transformed into black metal and laid one of the cornerstones of what we call Hellenic Black Metal now. In 90-00s the sound changes again to some kind of gothic metal and finally in 2007 the legendary Theogonia was released, where the mix of infernal malice with original, inherent melody, clearly signs the direction of Rotting Christ‘s development for the next years. And now, through the epic AEALO, interesting Rituals and full of various stories The Heretics (I skip Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού because I don’t like it much) we come to 2024 and the band’s 14th album named Pro Xristou (Before Christ).

Pro Xristou is a tribute to the last pagan kings, who struggled and resisted the onslaught of fast spreading Christianity, trying to guard their ancient values and knowledge. Sakis’ storytelling here is great one more time: a whole movie can be created on each story behind every song. However, each track is already cinematic: choirs, spoken words, various sounds of bells and horses’ hooves, wind blowing or even a sound of epic battle. Every single element is calibrated here and served well, so the music becomes captivating and literally dissolve the listener in it.

The opening self-titled “Pro Xristou” already provides everything that was expected from the band: slow paced, with choir and distinctive wall of sound, naming of deities on such background. Nevertheless, it is only an introduction; the ideas of the album start to unfold in the next “The Apostate” with its pummeling riff, might drumming and a long-drawn melodic guitar with half-folkish, half-cinematic melody, like some movie about the ancient times. And when the somber choir is intertwined with the spoken word, music becomes overfilled with some ancient mysticism. “Like Father, Like Son” is still cinematic but the sound becomes more aggressive, with double bass and extreme vocals, reminding the mentioned Theogonia and AEALO.

“La Lettera Del Diavolo” impresses with its tempo and shrill female vocals provided by Androniki Skoula. This song reminds me “Elthe Kyrie” from Rituals but there is much more diversity here: pompous choirs appear in the middle of the song, taking the music to some mysticism once again and in the end Androniki shows her operatic vocal skills before the last piercing scream. Another type of female vocals, the folk one this time can be heard in the dark “Pix, Lax, Dax”, which opens with acoustic picking and then goes with tremolo riff, melodic guitar and another folk instrument on the forefront.

“Pretty World, Pretty Dies” opens with the sounds of battle and unfolds into mid-paced tapestry with long-drawn raspy riff and gloomy atmosphere; by the way, the solo is stunning here. “Yggdrasil” provides more gloom and darkness, though, finishing off the listener with sudden fast drumming. And the ending “Saoirse” is a quintessence of everything in Pro Xristou: it mesmerizes with quite simple musical elements, showing the musical genius of Sakis fully. It is really brilliant end of the album.

The only song that didn’t impress me is “The Sixth Day”. It sounds good and it has every Rotting Christ‘s thing but the music itself is, well, let’s say “self-quoting”. I mean, I listened to this song a couple of times and couldn’t get rid of obsessive thought “where the hell did I heard it?” However, it can be just me and my conjectures.

Nevertheless, Rotting Christ managed to make another dark, various and very deep work of art. Maybe there is nothing that fans have never heard before but there is no need in this: Pro Xristou impresses and captivates. And please pay attention to the lyrics!

Pro Xristou will be released on May, 24th via Season Of Mist.

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