Music

Rotting Christ: Rituals

Greek outfit continues an evolution that doesn't betray its roots but also doesn't blindly play the party line.


Rotting Christ

Rituals

Label: Season of Mist
US Release Date: 2016-02-12
UK Release Date: 2016-02-12
Amazon
iTunes

If you were sitting in front of your computer, spewing hateful predictions about Rotting Christ’s decline, hang on to your keyboard. That ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

Sakis Tolis’ vocals have never sounded better than they do here; they’re frightening and ferocious and yet, especially during “In Nomine Dei Nostri” and “Les Litanies De Satan (Fleurs del Mal)” his words ring with a clarity that seems almost entirely foreign to metal growlers. He also possesses an emotional conviction that’s rare among singers of any stripe. His performances are dramatic, cinematic and admirable on those pieces as well as the almost blues-y (relative terms here, mate) closer “The Four Horsemen”.

Tolis and fellow guitarist George Emmanuel offer moody, exciting guitar figures that never sacrifice the integrity of the established mood for unnecessary extremity. In fact, there are many times throughout where the guitars are supplanted by percussion and vocals, creating not only unique music but music that is more memorable for its lack of typical trappings. That’s the case on the ritualistic aural murder of “Apage Satana” (which should be on a film score somewhere) and “Devadevam”, which may or may not be an audio transcript of a board meeting in hell. All that said, there are doses of the familiar extreme metal maneuvers. “Elthe Kyrie” will satisfy anyone’s itch for black metal guitars and smacking rhythms as will most of “Tou Thanatou”.

Most often it’s Tolis’ voice and his brother Themis’ drumming that make for the most interesting listening across the 10 pieces here. The primitive rhythms and complex ones alike are a welcome change from the overly familiar patterns heard on black/death/experimental metal albums since time immemorial. There’s also a greater attention to the bass frequencies, allowing Vargelis Karzis’ contributions to occupy an important space between our ears and rumble our primitive souls.

Those elements, outgrowths of the group’s continued and seemingly tireless evolution over the last 25-plus years, are perfect examples of what happens when a group looks at playing the long game. One cranes his ears to listen to the nuances and to decipher the layers of musical complexity that reveal themselves slowly, then all at once. Were someone of broad enough mind they might begin to categorize Rotting Christ as one of the great contemporary progressive bands as there are undeniable elements of that musically liberal genre here, though the band never once betrays its commitment to this darkest of arts.

Rotting Christ has set a few templates for other bands to follow over the last few decades and the Greek gods seem intent on expanding their blackened empire for some time to come. In order to do that they’ll have to find extremity in some unexpected places and this recording, each moment of it, provides a guide to listeners as they wait for the full revelation of the quartet’s adventures.

Put in more plain language, it’s hard to think of something heavier or more extreme in our times than casting aside the very clichés that designate something as either. Kata ton daimona eaytoy indeed.

8

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image