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Released: 2000, Century Media
Reviewer: Ice Maiden
I was anxiously awaiting the release of the seventh album of Greece’s premiere black metal band, Rotting Christ. I had explored this band in reverse chronological order (ironic that the new album’s title is Greek for “Time”), starting with their more recent releases and then going back to their roots. I’ve been a huge fan of the band since I first listened to their fifth album, A Dead Poem. Black, haunting and atmospheric, with its gothy use of keyboards, that album is a very interesting exploration of darkness. Sleep of the Angels, the band’s sixth album, continued the band’s evil sound—I’ve heard the song “Der Perfekte Traum” referred to as the ideal soundtrack for the end of the world. (That song is also a good example of why the guttural German language should be used more in Metal lyrics.) What hits you most when listening to both of those albums is that, though highly-produced, their sound remains evil in the best sense of that word—not 14-year-old-girl-who-loves-vampires-and-cemeteries evil, but complicated and melancholy evil. In large part this is because of the calculating and emotional vocals of Sakis (the band’s primary composer and lyricist), the variety in the songs, and the brilliant guitar work.
After hearing those albums, I was surprised when I went back and started exploring Rotting Christ’s past. Their previous releases are unpolished and aggressive, as represented by the almost doomy/death sound in Thy Mighty Contract and culminating for me in their fourth album, Triarchy of the Lost Lovers. Sounding almost like a different band, the first four Rotting Christ albums are full of the primal brutality that any metal heart loves. It wasn’t surprising that many of the band’s early fans screamed “sell-out” when the more produced and dark sounding Dead Poem and Sleep of the Angels were released. But, to me, the problem in the early albums was the poor production that sometimes left the drums behind.
Before its release, promoters were touting that Khronos would represent a return to Rotting Christ’s more raw roots. I was hoping that the new album would incorporate the best parts of Rotting Christ’s two phases--the brutality of the earlier albums with the excellent production and dark complexity of the later albums. Unfortunately, Khronos instead emerges as a shallow hull of all that Rotting Christ could be. The newest release is mixed/produced by the infamous Peter “Where’s the bathroom?” Tagtgren (sorry--flashback to Wacken). But instead of extracting more evil from this band in the production, the production almost makes them sound pre-fabricated, and completely eliminates the aggression of their earlier work. The first track, “Thou Art Blind,” starts out with vocals that sound like the Cookie Monster - or real. I mean, it sounds like the CM is actually making a guest appearance. The rest of the tracks are pretty unimaginative, and the drums become downright monotonous. Those 14 year old goth folks I mentioned earlier should like the whispered female vocals in “Aeternatus.” My favorite track, the only one that really sticks out in my mind, is “Lucifer Over London,” which is actually a cover of the song originally done by Current 93. The variety in tempo and styles in the previous albums is completely lacking in this one. There is little innovation in this album—I’d only recommend it to fans of the band’s later works who want to have a complete collection. The end result is that, at best, this album would serve as adequate background music if you were feeling moderately low and didn’t want to listen to something that steals too much attention.
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