Rotting Christ - Rituals review


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Band: Rotting Christ
Album: Rituals
Release date: February 2016

01. In Nomine Dei Nostri [feat. George]
02. זה נגמר (Ze Nigmar)
03. Ἐλθὲ Κύριε (Elthe Kyrie) [feat. Danai]
04. Les Litanies De Satan (Les Fleurs Du Mal) [feat. Vorph]
05. Ἄπαγε Σατανά (Apage Satana)
06. Του Θάνατου (Tou Thanatou)
07. For A Voice Like Thunder [feat. Nick Holmes]
08. Konx Om Pax
09. देवदेवं (Devadevam) [feat. Kathir]
10. The Four Horsemen
11. Lok'tar Ogar [vinyl bonus]

Let's get something out of the way first: I've been a big fan of Rotting Christ since their early days, I love almost everything they have released and I consider Theogonia to be among the best black metal albums of all time. Apparently, Sakis Tolis feels similarly about his 2007 opus and has been trying to copy it in the two albums that followed. Rituals swims in similar waters. Or is it?

Rotting Christ's latest release revolves around the theme of religious ceremonies and traditions around the world and Sakis has obviously put plenty of effort and done a fair bit of research to write the lyrics of each song. This is a strong point of the album, in which a few languages -some of them extinct- are heard. The aforementioned traits give a very soulful, occult and epic feel and when the music is on the same note, the result is excellent ("Ze Nigmar"). However, there's a few instances when the music seems to be a recycling process of previous songs, which can sometimes be quite enjoyable ("Elthe Kyrie") and other times very annoying ("Devadevam" for example bears a disturbing resemblance to "In Yumen-Xibalba" from Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy). There are also some high-profile guest appearances, namely Magus from Necromantia, Vorph from Samael and Old Nick from Paradise Lost and they all add something extra to the songs they appear in. Especially Vorph gives a great performance in the fabulous "Les Litanies De Satan (Les Fleurs Du Mal)" and taking into account how dreadful Sakis's English accent is, it was probably a wise choice to ask the Samael vocalist, Vorph, to sing French.

I think the reason why Rituals has been received with such mixed response is because it simply cannot totally please anyone, even though it's kind of obvious that it tries very hard to. On one hand, fans who expected some of the same old stuff are left with very few of the Rotting Christ trademark riffs, melodies and solos, since the album is mainly slower, darker and with more attention paid to the atmosphere it wants to create. On the other hand, there are many parts in this album that the listener goes "oh, I'm sure I've heard that before" and most times it's true. In the previous album, the song "Cine Iubeşte Şi Lasă" made a big impact with the fans and I think Sakis also wants to take this direction of a darker, gloomier and less melodic approach in the near future. I've read some of his recent interviews where he's stating exactly that. Perhaps Rituals is the album that intended to make this transition smoother. Or maybe it's just me and my wishful thinking, but how I'd love an album full of "Ze Nigmar"-like songs.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 9

Written by nikarg | 28.02.2017


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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