Released: 2004, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Let’s all just forget about 2002’s dismal GENESIS as the “return of Rotting Christ” and consider SANCTUS DIAVOLOS the true return of the pioneers of Greek black metal, okay? Those not in the know might ask, “Black metal…from Greece?!” Yes, it is true that black metal DOES exist outside of the nippy barrens of Scandinavia and Rotting Christ has been doing this for over a decade, too, so they aren’t exactly Johnny-Come-Latelys. Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Sakis and drummer Themis founded the band in 1987 and over the years have seen Rotting Christ turn from death/grind to doomy gothic black metal. SANCTUS DIAVOLOS delivers on all accounts bringing an especially ominous aura to traditional blackened death via keyboards, chanting and general religious-based creepiness. Some bands come off as cheesy and downright funny when trying to be evil, but Rotting Christ must have been spawned from the seed of Satan himself. Their use of sound effects and overall ambience is disturbing when heard on good headphones and with the lights off, so prepare to be dragged down into the pits of Hell as you listen to the new CD!
“Visions of A Blind Order” shows the band is finally back dropping an aptly sinister and gloomy track that features a blistering lead guitar from fellow countryman, Gus G. (Dream Evil, Nightrage, Firewind). There are some weird effects used here that sound like a cross between whale music and a meowing kitten. It sounds peaceful, but damn if Rotting Christ doesn’t make it sound unsettling. Religious chants pepper tracks like “Thy Wings Thy Horn Thy Sin,” “”Sanctimonious” and “Serve In Heaven” and nothing gives me the heebie-jeebies more than this kind of stuff. The crunching riff of “Athanati Este” wraps itself around the old world feel of cymbals and percussion creating a truly unique blend of music. “Tyrannical” is a slower, brooding track that builds to a crescendo with Sakis’ powerful vocals and Themis’ pounding drums. “Sanctimonious” is a slower-than-slow dirge with completely unintelligible lyrics but the ambience created is spellbinding and makes the follow-up track, “To Serve In Heaven,” seem even heavier. The thrashy and intro and outro are sandwiched between a throbbing bottom end, courtesy of Andreas and Themis, that rumbles through your soul and never lets up for a second. The title track is another slice of menacing malevolence that ends things on a truly dreary and disconcerting note. Rotting Christ’s ability to chill the blood is unequaled and so ends 48 minutes of unnerving headbanging.
SANCTUS DIAVOLOS is a welcome return of a band who I had written off after their last release. GENESIS was a definite misstep, but Rotting Christ are back and better (and more evil) than ever. All hail Rotting Christ!
KILLER KUTS: “Visions of A Blind Order,” “Athanati Este,” “Tyrannical,” “Sanctimonious,” “Serve In Heaven,” “Sanctus Diavolos”