Album Review – Rotting Christ / The Heretics (2019)

Heretics, atheists and rebels, it’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal masterfully crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.

“Since man cannot live without miracles, he will provide himself with the miracles of his own making. He will believe in any kind of deity even though he may otherwise be a heretic, an atheist, and a rebel.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It is not a coincidence that our review number 666 exhales blasphemy, heresy and, above all, first-class occult Black Metal and a lot of fire. Hailing from Athens, the capital of the beautiful Greece and the heart of Ancient Greece, here comes the greatest Greek metal institution of all time, the almighty Rotting Christ, spitting fire upon humanity with their fantastic and very atmospheric new opus, entitled The Heretics, their thirteenth studio album and a beautiful follow-up to their excellent 2016 release Rituals.  Recorded at Pentagram Studios in Athens, mixed and mastered at Fascination Street Studio in Örebro, Sweden, and featuring a stunning artwork by Ukrainian designer Vyacheslav Smeshko and cover art by Greek artist Maximos Manolis, Rotting Christ’s new album is absolutely incendiary, going against all types of religion, church and creed.

And when I say incendiary I’m not exaggerating, as pretty much every single song from The Heretics mentions the world “fire”, proving the band’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sakis Tolis and his brother, drummer Themis Tolis, knew exactly what they were doing when turning what it truly means to be a heretic into their unparalleled Dark Metal. All lyrics are obscure, austere and rebellious, which together with all beautiful intonations by guests Stelios Steele and Dayal Patterson, as well as an array of guest musicians such as Irina Zybina (vocalist for Russian Pagan/Folk Metal bands Alkonost and Грай), Alexis Karamelis and Melechesh Ashmedi, makes the experience of listening to The Heretics truly hypnotizing, enfolding our souls in darkness and fire while the music remains as heavy, intricate and epic as we got used to from the Tolis Brothers. In other words, are you ready to burn in the purifying fires of the Dark Metal blasted by the one and only Rotting Christ?

The imposing In the Name of God brings forward a very atmospheric start, with the words by Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky spoken by guest Stelios Steele setting the stage for the crushing wall of sounds created by the Tolis Brothers, always in the name of fire, not to mention how its headbanging riffs will inspire you to break your neck in half, while Vetry Zlye, also called “Ветры злые” (which translates as “evil winds” from Russian), is another beautiful composition by those Greek metallers with the help of guest vocalist Irina Zybina and her mesmerizing voice, getting closer to what the band did in Rituals and with the drums by Themis sounding as imposing and demolishing as we like it in classic extreme music. “The mind is universe and can make a heaven of hell a hell of heaven”, and it’s with those words by English poet John Milton that Rotting Chirst kick off another thrilling hymn titled Heaven and Hell and Fire, showcasing austere, cryptic lyrics (“Beyond the burning fire, heaven and hell / Today I give you choices: life or death / I offer you desire, I sentence you to death / Today I give you a choice, I give you Hell”) that perfectly match with the song’s flammable, classic and very melodic musicality, with Sakis once again being a beast with his riffs and unmatched roars.

Hallowed Be Thy Name is a mesmerizing and extremely obscure hymn by led by Themis’ pounding beats, with Sakis extracting those low-tuned, Stygian sounds we love so much from his guitar and bass. Put differently, join their mass and burn with them, also savoring the words by William Shakespeare powerfully declaimed by Stelios, putting a majestic end to the song. Following such enfolding tune we have Dies Irae, where Sakis’ work on the guitar is the perfect example of how heavy and harmonious a riff can be at the same time, as well as the song’s background choir bringing even more thunder to this already potent song; whereas in I Believe (or “Πιστεύω”), which is based on a poem by Nikos Kazantzakis, a giant of modern Greek literature, the instrumental pieces are a bit too “polluted”, but nothing that makes the song boring or not enjoyable. Moreover, it should work a lot better live as it has the potential to generate huge circle pits due to its frantic pace. Back to a more visceral mode, we have the fabulous Fire God and Fear, with the words by French philosopher Voltaire (“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”) generating a stunning paradox with the birds gently chirping in the background in the beginning, before the scorching riffs and thunderous drums by the Greek brothers of metal urge us all to bang our heads nonstop. Hence, this is by far one of my favorite songs of the entire album, where we can savor that classic Rotting Christ sonority with a welcome contemporary twist.

Rotting Christ The Heretics Box Collector

The Voice of Universe is another song that will reach deep inside your mind and soul, with Sakis vociferating its insurgent words (“The angel, I won’t serve again / I won’t have a place anymore in heaven / It’s my own soul, it’s my own mind / And can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”) while Themis keeps blasting his trademark tribal beats, and when you think those Greek metallers couldn’t sound more mesmerizing and brutal at the same time they deliver the excellent The New Messiah, featuring an excerpt from Matthew 24:11 (“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.”), with the guitars and all background elements and voices filling out all spaces in the air. And lastly, as the icing on the cake we have the magnificent, somber and ferocious The Raven, based on what’s probably the most famous poem by the iconic american writer Edgar Allan Poe, offering our ears over five minutes of cutting riffs, Black and Doom Metal drums, and endless poetry, with highlights to the sensational job done by Stelios Steele, giving life to Poe’s renowned lines. Actually, if you have some spare money to purchase any of the special editions of the album, you’ll also be able to enjoy the bonus tracks The Sons of Hell and Phobos (also called “The Sons of Hell, Pt. 1 & 2” by some people), two dark and demolishing tunes that make it worth the additional investment, or in other words, two excellent samples of modern-day Black Metal infused with epic and atmospheric elements.

In summary, The Heretics, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from several locations such as the band’s own BandCamp page and the Season of Mist webstore (and if I were you, I would go for the limited edition deluxe wooden boxset as it comes with several awesome perks), is definitely an album that will touch your heart and soul, taking you on a fascinating musical ride through the woes of religious wars, Zoroastrianism and the eternal war between good and evil. That’s what the unrelenting Rotting Christ offer us in their top-of-the-line new opus, and may Sakis and his horde continue to burn us all heretics, atheists and rebels with their dark and occult Black Metal for many decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Heaven and Hell and Fire, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fire God and Fear and The Raven.

Worst moments of the album: I Believe.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. In the Name of God 4:13
2. Vetry Zlye 3:14
3. Heaven and Hell and Fire 4:52
4. Hallowed Be Thy Name 5:06
5. Dies Irae 3:45
6. I Believe 3:42
7. Fire God and Fear 4:49
8. The Voice of Universe 5:22
9. The New Messiah 3:07
10. The Raven 5:23

Deluxe Edition/ Limited Edition Deluxe Boxset bonus track
11. The Sons of Hell 4:18

Limited Edition Deluxe Boxset bonus track
12. Phobos 4:12

Band members
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion
Themis Tolis – drums

Guest musicians
Giannis Kalamatas – guitars (live)
Van Ace – bass (live)
Stelios Steele – poem intonation on “In the Name of God”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “The Raven”
Alexis Karamelis – backing vocals on “I Believe”
Stratis Steele, Alexandros Louziotis, Giannis Stamatakis & Theodoros Aivaliotis – vocals (choirs)
Nikos Velentzas, Stamatis Ampatalis, Vasilis Koutsoyflakis & Manos Six – percussion
Irina Zybina – female Vocals on “Vetry Zlye”
Dayal Patterson – intonation on “Heaven and Hell and Fire” and “Fire God and Fear”
Melechesh Ashmedi – vocals on “The Voice of Universe”

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Album Review – Necronomicon / Advent of The Human God (2016)

Behold the descent of the human god upon humanity to the symphonic and scorching Black Metal delivered by the most prominent Canadian horde of all time.

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Necronomicon_AHG_2000x2000_Rev_02If the original meaning of “Necronomicon” is a fictional grimoire (or textbook of magic), appearing in the stories by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, I believe we should refer to what Canadian Symphonic Black/Death Metal veterans Necronomicon offer us in their brand new opus entitled Advent of The Human God as a sonic compilation of evil spells. Discharging a lethal dose of symphonic and scorching Blackened Death Metal through their music, this power trio from the city of Montreal, Quebec takes no prisoners in their battle against religion, and nothing better than their artistic view of the descent of a human god upon humanity to showcase the always negative outcomes caused by our blind faith.

Fans of controversial bands like Behemoth, Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir will connect instantly with the lyrics and themes explored by Necronomicon in their new album, which are in line with what was presented in their previous releases such as Rise of The Elder Ones (2013), Return of The Witch (2010) and Pharaoh of Gods (1999). Featuring a beautiful and ungodly artwork by Canadian artist and musician Filip Ivanović and having bassist Mars debuting on the low-keys, Advent of The Human God is another step further in the solid career of this precious gem made in Canada, which obviously translates into pure awesomeness for fans of extreme music.

The symphonic and epic intro The Descent grows until the tile-track Advent of The Human God comes smashing us all with its blasting beats and dark melody, with the iconic lead singer and guitarist Rob “The Witch” Tremblay firing his deep vociferations in this work-of-art the likes of Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth. And this is just the beginning, because The Golden Gods starts right where the previous track ended, with drummer Rick blasting his heavy artillery of darkness until all instruments join him and all hell breaks loose. In addition to that, Rob provides some wicked solos that only enhance the song’s quality, making the overall result very progressive and obviously thrilling.

Necronomicon - photo - Credit - Myriam Francoeur 6Sounding like if it was extracted from a futuristic horror movie, the symphonic instrumental tune Okkultis Trinity will captivate you and drag you to the underworld, where the ferocious Unification of The Four Pillars will crush your spine and distort your mind, showcasing yet another flawless performance by Rick on drums while Rob leads the musicality with his solid riffs and growls, all nicely complemented by the symphonic elements and choir in the background. And in Crown of Thorns, its “opening of an evil ceremony” morphs into brutal and merciless Black Metal (with huge doses of harmony to give more balance to it), and this sonic earthquake keeps kicking ass throughout the entire song for our absolute delectation.

Leaning towards the musicality by Behemoth, The Fjord is slightly slower but as demonic and aggressive as usual, displaying a great synchronicity between Rob and Rick, which ends up creating an imposing atmosphere perfect for nonstop circle pits and brutal headbanging; whereas the sinister and atmospheric Gaia, another movie-like instrumental bridge, slowly sets the stage for the puissant I (Bringer Of Light), which needs only two seconds to hit you like a lightning bolt. This precise fusion of Symphonic Black Metal and Blackened Death Metal presents a completely infuriated and possessed Rob, who helps increase the song’s effectiveness in special during its powerful chorus. Innocence And Wrath, a cover version for the intro from Celtic Frost’s 1985 cult album To Mega Therion, doesn’t do much for the album as it’s just a short instrumental track, and Alchemy Of The Avatar, a symphonic and melodic onslaught of Black Metal, concludes the album with Rick firing unstoppable beats and fills while Rob switches his voice to a more satanic level and back to his regular deep growls, with all these elements helping the music flow into a climatic ending.

In case you’re from another planet and haven’t heard anything about Necronomicon yet, I suggest you go check their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation profile, and in order to get your copy of Advent of The Human God you should visit their BandCamp page or Season of Mist’s official webstore. As aforementioned, the advent of a human god upon humanity couldn’t have a better soundtrack than the unique Blackened Death Metal by this skillful Canadian horde.

Best moments of the album: Advent of The Human God, Unification of The Four Pillars and I (Bringer Of Light).

Worst moments of the album: Innocence And Wrath.

Released in 2016 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. The Descent 1:18
2. Advent of The Human God 5:27
3. The Golden Gods 4:13
4. Okkultis Trinity 2:27
5. Unification of The Four Pillars 3:27
6. Crown of Thorns 4:30
7. The Fjord 4:39
8. Gaia 2:43
9. I (Bringer Of Light) 4:04
10. Innocence And Wrath (Celtic Frost Cover) 1:08
11. Alchemy Of The Avatar 5:14

Band members
Rob “The Witch” Tremblay – vocals, guitar
Mars – bass
Rick – drums

Album Review – Eths / Ankaa (2016)

One of the most prominent and innovative French bands of all time returns with a true masterpiece of complexity, darkness and heaviness, shining brighter than the main star of the Phoenix constellation.

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CoverThere’s a thin line between change and evolution several bands worldwide can’t or simply just don’t know how to walk without losing their balance and, consequently, damaging their core essence. Fortunately, this is not the case with French Neo-Metal adventurers Eths, who in my humble opinion have just released their boldest and most innovative album to date, the splendid Ankaa, but still being the Eths we all learned to love. Although I had been preparing myself for quite a while for another blast of creativity by Mr. Staif Bihl and his bandmates, I must say I was blown away by the level of intricacy, darkness and heaviness found throughout the entire album. This beautiful work-of-art crafted by this distinguished group hailing from the city of Marseille, France is the perfect depiction of what evolution in music is all about, and it will surely help spread the electricity and emotions flowing from the music by Eths to the entire world.

Ankaa, which features a unique selection of guest musicians such as Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Sarah Layssac (Arkan), Jon Howard (Threat Signal), Faustine Berardo and session drummer Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork), not to mention it is also Eths’ first full-length album with the stunning Rachel Aspe on vocals, shines brighter than the main star of the Phoenix constellation, which by the way was the inspiration for the album name. “This album is linked to the cosmos and the concept of rebirth for the band as well as personally”, said Staif, and that’s indeed what you’ll experience while listening to each one of its twelve jaw-dropping multi-layered songs, all beautifully and meticulously connected to tell a bigger story to the listener. Again, Eths might have changed their musicality in Ankaa considerably, but it was a change towards evolution that no one in their right mind should ever complain about.

One of the best compositions in the history of Eths, entitled Nefas (the Latin word for “atrocity” or “wrong”), kicks off Ankaa in a very impactful way, being insanely heavier, faster and darker than anything the band has ever done before. It’s a feast of Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal, Alternative Metal and many other subgenres of heavy music perfectly put together, and pay good attention to what our screaming diva Rachel does with her “voix incroyable”, it sounds beyond astonishing. Nihil Sine Causa (or “nothing happens without a cause”, from Latin), featuring Sarah Layssac and Jon Howard, is yet another obscure and thunderous composition where the band’s mastermind Staif showcases his always solid guitar lines, with the addition of the Arabic words by Sarah as well as the electronic effects during the song’s second half bringing a fresh taste to the music. And in Amaterasu, part of the Japanese myth cycle seen as the goddess of the Sun and the Universe, Dirk (who sounds like a beast behind his drums) makes a great duo with newcomer Damien Rivoal and his low-tuned and heavy as hell bass lines. Moreover, it’s impossible not to love this brutal Groove Metal aria, and I don’t recall coming across such a powerful triumvirate of songs like these starting an album in recent years.

eths 2016All the craziness, occultism and darkness found in Ankaa keep growing with each and every song, and in Seditio (or “rebellion”, from Latin) that couldn’t be any different. It amuses me how Rachel can sound like a beauty and a beast at the same time, showcasing all her vocal skills and contributing to the song being heavier than usual but still innovative and progressive, just like we expect from such a talented group of musicians. Then we have the startling Nixi Dii, a general term applied by the Romans to those divinities who were believed to assist women at the time when they were giving birth to a child, where its eerie background effects, demonic drumming, choir-like backing vocals and lots of breaks and variations, together with Rachel growling like an evil queen, are all the ingredients you need for awesomeness. In other words, it offers you eight minutes of the best modern metal music you can find in the entire world. And just when you think things couldn’t get more alternative we’re treated to Vae Victis (Latin for “woe to the vanquished”), with Staif providing an amazing piano base for Rachel to shine once again, this time with a mix of clean vocals and visceral growls. As a side note, the production of the album is so brilliant you can clearly hear every single note coming out of each instrument, enhancing the overall experience even more.

The next song, named HAR1 (the acronym for human accelerated region 1, a short DNA region identified recently to have evolved the most rapidly among highly constrained regions since the divergence from our common ancestor with chimpanzee) and featuring Björn “Speed” Strid, gets closer to traditional Melodic Death Metal thanks to the contribution of Björn, but of course with Eths’ own touch added to it; while in Sekhet Aaru, the Egyptian reed fields considered the heavenly paradise where Osiris rules in ancient Egyptian mythology, your soul will be transported to those fields in a flawless fusion of alternative and occult music. Sarah is back with her gorgeous voice as a guest vocalist in Kumari Kandam, which refers to a hypothetical lost continent with an ancient Tamil civilization (located south of present-day India, in the Indian Ocean), perhaps the closest song to Eths’ old musicality with Damien and Dirk providing all the uproar while Rachel takes care of the song’s tranquility, sorrow and anguish.

eths-ankaa-digibox

Ankaa Deluxe Digibox

Last but not least, Eths bring forward a spine-tingling trilogy inspired by the Orion constellation, accurately representing the idea of rebirth. The first piece of this trilogy is named Alnitak, a multiple star (also known as “Zeta Orionis”) that’s part of the famous Orion’s Belt, which Staif effectively translated into an epic and vibrant chant overflowing his deepest emotions. The second piece, entitled Alnilam, a large blue supergiant star also known as “Epsilon Orionis” estimated to be 275,000 to 537,000 times as luminous as the Sun and around 34 times as massive, is an extremely powerful and aggressive tune led by a relentless Rachel, with Dirk yet again pounding his drums mercilessly. And finally, the climatic end to this trilogy comes in the form of another violent chant with esoteric passages and a pleasant ambience named Mintaka, from منطقة (“manṭaqa”), which means “the belt” in Arabic.

As aforementioned, calling Ankaa simply as a “change” in the music direction by Eths is an understatement of the actual evolution Staif, Rachel and the others reached with their musicality, as well as of the brilliant destiny that lies ahead for them. Ankaa is not just another regular metal album, and I’m sure it will shortly become a reference in contemporary heavy music. Thus, if you want to join Eths in this exciting path they are taking towards the future of Heavy Metal, I suggest you go grab your copy of Ankaa (which can be listened to in its entirety HERE), in special its top-notch deluxe digibox including a CD and an exclusive DVD “Live at Hellfest 2015” in digisleeve with a 24 page booklet, an Eths metal key ring and a pyramid folding card, at the Season Of Mist webshop or at the Napalm Records webshop. After listening to such a masterpiece like Ankaa, you will quickly realize it is no wonder Eths are considered by many the most prominent and innovative French band of all time.

Best moments of the album: Nefas, Nihil Sine Causa, Amaterasu, Nixi Dii and, from the Orion-inspired trilogy, I would say Alnilam is the most entertaining composition.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Season Of Mist

Track listing
1. Nefas 3:50
2. Nihil Sine Causa (feat. Sarah Layssac and Jon Howard) 4:53
3. Amaterasu 3:57
4. Seditio 6:36
5. Nixi Dii 7:58
6. Vae Victis 5:05
7. HAR1 (feat. Björn “Speed” Strid) 4:04
8. Sekhet Aaru 4:09
9. Kumari Kandam (feat. Sarah Layssac and Faustine Berardo) 4:15
10. Alnitak 4:04
11. Alnilam 3:40
12. Mintaka 5:07

Band members
Rachel Aspe – lead vocals
Staif Bihl – guitars, keyboards, programming, vocals
Damien Rivoal – bass
R.U.L. – drums (live)

Guest musicians
Dirk Verbeuren – drums (studio recording)
Sarah Layssac – additional vocals on “Nihil Sine Causa” and “Kumari Kandam”
Jon Howard – additional vocals on “Nihil Sine Causa”
Björn “Speed” Strid – additional vocals on “HAR1”
Faustine Berardo – additional vocals on “Kumari Kandam”

Album Review – Rotting Christ / Rituals (2016)

The Greek gods of Black Metal return with a brand new opus that sounds more ritualistic and occult than ever, but as heavy and visceral as usual.

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rotting christ_ritualsI’m pretty sure most metalheads will agree with me when I say Rituals, the brand new opus by Greek Black/Dark Metal institution Rotting Christ, would be the perfect soundtrack to the most intense and gruesome epic movie of all time, making even classics like Gladiator look like a teen movie. Rituals does not offer just another selection of Extreme Metal songs crafted by this iconic band from Athens, Greece, but instead a sequence of ritualistic battle chants tailored to inspire us to grab our swords, shields and armors and be prepared to fight in this Holy War until our inevitable and sanguinary end comes.

In fact, this blend of Extreme Metal with History, religion and culture offered by Rotting Christ is not news to anyone. This has been a constant in the distinct career of this awesome Greek act since their inception in 1987, and with each and every new record they go deeper and deeper into the selected topics and themes, always improving the more contemporary blackened-Gothic style from their latest albums. Add to that the several guest musicians featured in Rituals and the band’s usual controversy in regards to their lyrics, and there you have another excellent album that will surely keep Rotting Christ more than relevant in the world of extreme music.

We already face a religious call to arms in the opening track, entitled In Nomine Dei Nostri (“In the Name of Our God”, from Latin), featuring guest vocalist George Zacharopoulos, who helps Rotting Christ in providing the album a solid start. Musically speaking, this tune is remarkably potent and imposing, a sonic battle that gradually grows within time and that gets even more impactful due to its demonic chorus. זה נגמר (Ze Nigmar), or “It’s Over”, is a dark and mysterious song about death and failure written in the official language of Jesus Christ (Aramaic) and is referred on his last 7 sentences on the cross, displaying the band’s trademark sonority with the guitar riffs by the band’s mastermind Sakis Tolis and the talented George Emmanuel creating a mesmerizing aura; while the high-octane tune Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie), or “Come Lord” from Greek, features Danai Katsameni (an actress of the National Hellenic Theater) vociferating some disturbing and desperate vocals which end up bringing a fantastic vibe to the music, not to mention those screams match flawlessly with the deeper growling by Sakis.

I simply love how many different languages and dialects are used by the band, always providing a fresh touch to their music, and in Les Litanies de Satan (Les Fleurs du Mal), or “The Litanies of Satan (The Flowers of Evil)” from French, that couldn’t be different, with the music generating a belligerent ambience that provides guest vocalist Vorph (Samael) all he needs to darkly declaim the song’s French lyrics (“Toi dont l’oeil clair connaît les profonds arsenaux / Où dort enseveli le peuple des métaux, / Toi dont la large main cache les precipices / Au somnambule errant au bord des edifices”). And as heavy and tribal as it can be, Ἄπαγε Σατανά (Apage Satana), the Greek for  “Begone, Satan”, brings forward a hellish march where its background noises and vociferations add an extra layer of obscurity to this disturbing chant, sounding like a satanic mantra at times.

rotting christIn Του θάνατου (Tou Thanatou), or “Death’s” from Greek, although you can hear straightforward Black Metal in the background, the music is at the same time very melodic and ritualistic, with hints of Symphonic Gothic Metal enhancing even more the quality of this beautiful cover version for a traditional Greek song by Nikos Xylouris. The initial and final narrations in For a Voice like Thunder (taken from the Prologue to “King Edward the Fourth” by William Blake) are obscurely amazing thanks to the fantastic contribution by the one and only Nick Holmes, who together with Sakis and his crew makes sure there are plenty of Gothic and Doom Metal elements from his band Paradise Lost added to the music.

Dark shadows continue to be over the music by Rotting Christ in Konx om Pax, which means  “Watch and do no harm” from Greek or “Light rushing out in a single ray” from Egyptian, another solid war-like composition where all instruments sound powerful, especially the sustained drumming by Themis Tolis and the song’s background keyboards. The same can be said about देवदेवं (Devadevam), or “God of Gods” from Sanskrit, a more melancholic and somber tune featuring guest singer Kathir which despite being very complex and dense, it lacks the Black Metal “venom” found in the other songs of the album. And the grand finale in Rituals comes in the form of a unique cover version for a psychedelic tune by Greek Progressive Rock band Aphrodite’s Child, entitled The Four Horsemen, where Themis and bassist Van Ace have exceptional performances while Sakis continues firing his bestial and effective growls.

There are so many details, so much content and so much to absorb in Rituals (which can be listened in its entirety HERE) that it becomes extremely difficult for an occasional listener of Rotting Christ to understand and enjoy everything the band is offering. However, if you’re a fan of occult and extreme music with a robust production and a primeval background, I’m sure you’ll have a very productive time listening to each “ritual” of the album. Rituals will take you to a time where crossing the thin line between war and religion was just a matter of accepting or not that the world we live in is hopeless, and there’s nothing we can do to change its wretched destiny.

Best moments of the album: In Nomine Dei Nostri, Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie) and Του θάνατου (Tou Thanatou).

Worst moments of the album: देवदेवं (Devadevam).

Released in 2016 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. In Nomine Dei Nostri 4:57
2. זה נגמר (Ze Nigmar) 4:43
3. Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie) 4:49
4. Les Litanies de Satan (Les Fleurs du Mal) 3:55
5. Ἄπαγε Σατανά (Apage Satana) 3:50
6. Του θάνατου (Tou Thanatou) (Nikos Xylouris cover) 3:37
7. For a Voice like Thunder 6:11
8. Konx om Pax 6:21
9. देवदेवं (Devadevam) 5:18
10. The Four Horsemen (Aphrodite’s Child cover) 5:24

Special Digibox bonus track
11. Lok’tar Ogar 4:25

Band members
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars
George Emmanuel – guitars
Van Ace – bass
Themis Tolis – drums

Guest musicians
George Zacharopoulos – additional vocals on “In Nomine Dei Nostri”
Danai Katsameni – additional vocals on “Ἐλθὲ κύριε (Elthe Kyrie)”
Vorph – additional vocals on “Les Litanies de Satan (Les Fleurs du Mal)”
Nick Holmes – additional vocals on “For a Voice like Thunder”
Kathir – additional vocals on “देवदेवं (Devadevam)”

Album Review – Abbath / Abbath (2016)

The one and only Abbath takes a new step in his career with a brand new band and an album that will definitely be among the best releases of the year.

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abbathsoloface_638Olve Eikemo, Abbath Doom Occulta, or simply Abbath, you name it, is one of the most iconic musicians in the Norwegian Black Metal scene since the 1990’s as frontman of Immortal. However, in 2015, fans got caught by surprise when Demonaz announced Abbath’s departure from the band and they would legally battle for the naming rights of Immortal. According to Abbath’s side of the story, he wanted to rehearse and record a new album, but Demonaz and Horgh, now with families and children, didn’t want to enter the studio that soon. On the other side, Immortal members said that Abbath’s personal problems ruined the band’s plans. What could have meant the end of something really amazing such as Immortal’s legacy turned out to be the beginning of a new era when Abbath announced he was forming his self-named solo band.

To join him on this new project, Abbath recruited the well known bassist King ov Hell (Gorgoroth, Ov Hell, God Seed) and a mysterious drummer called “The Creature” – which we found out in December, when he left the band, to be Kevin Foley, the French drummer who has been playing with bands like Benighted, Disavowed, Sepultura, Sabaton and others. The band debuted live in June 2015, at Tuska Open Air, in Finland, even before the recording of the album and during the second half of 2015 they released a few songs to the fans. A few days after Creature’s departure, Per Valla, the Norwegian guitarist that played on their live concerts also left the band. Some might think this is not a good start for a new band, and it really isn’t, but they promised that their very first album was to be released on January 22, 2016, and here we have Abbath, a great Black Metal piece that every fan of this genre should take a listen at.

To War opens the album showing right from the start that Abbath is not here to delivery low quality music. It has an amazing work on bass and drums, great riffs adding melody to the song and the main man’s growls sounding better than ever. There is even time for a great melodic guitar solo. Winter Bane comes next and keeps all the heaviness going on, again with all the band members working in harmony – Creature brought to songs such as this one a lot of rhythm by coming from outside Black Metal, and the result is great. Next, the first seconds of Ashes of the Damned might trick you that this is a slow song, but in reality it is fierce and raw with the addition of fast guitar riffs, double bass and even some keyboards.

abbathband2015promo1_638After a start of pure destruction, Abbath slow the pace just a little bit with Ocean of Wounds, but you still know you’re listening to some really good Black Metal. All the anger comes back on the next track, Count the Dead – this song was released as a single in December in a very special 7” vinyl edition, limited to 500 copies worldwide. Fenrir Hunts is the heaviest song of the album and it was the first one played live to the fans, back in Finland. It is impossible to stay insensitive to this masterpiece and probably you’ll bang your head until your neck hurts.

In Root of the Mountain, we can recover our breath after all the aggressiveness delivered with another amazing melodic Black Metal track with a darker atmosphere. But the album couldn’t end in a better way than with more loudness to our ears in Eternal, closing this cycle with the same heaviness it all started. But wait, there is more! For those who got the “Count the Dead” single vinyl, as a B-side there’s a cover of Riding on with the Wind, byJudas Priest, also available on digital version. This is not the best of covers but, well, it is a good tribute to the Metal Gods. There is also a second cover as a bonus track: Nebular Ravens Winter, by Immortal, and if you think you know what to expect, you’re wrong. This version, recorded live in studio, sounds even louder than the original song.

Abbath is already available in its entirely for streaming on Soundcloud, and you can order your copy at the Season of Mist webstore and on iTunes. The band will embark in January and February on a tour around Europe, and then, in March and April, in North America, as headliners of the Decibel Magazine Tour, alongside with the bands High on Fire, Skeletonwitch and Tribulation – for both tours, Abbath named Gabe Seeber (The Kennedy Veil) to fill the place left by The Creature. So, keep an eye on Abbath’s Facebook page for more news and updates and if you have the chance to see this concert, please go! This is a must see in 2016. Will Abbath ever work with Immortal again? Who the f*ck knows? It is something we really can’t predict. But with this new band and the album, the man didn’t disappoint and showed he still has a lot of creativity flowing through his veins and a lot to deliver to his fans.

Best moments of the album: To War, Winter Bane, Count the Dead and Fenrir Hunts.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. To War 5:35
2. Winter Bane 6:49
3. Ashes of the Damned 3:51
4. Ocean of Wounds 4:44
5. Count the Dead 4:57
6. Fenrir Hunts 4:38
7. Root of the Mountain 5:40
8. Eternal 4:36

Special Edition bonus tracks
9. Riding on the Wind (Judas Priest cover) 3:04
10. Nebular Ravens Winter (Immortal cover) 4:16

Band members
Abbath Doom Occulta – vocals, guitars
King ov Hell – bass
The Creature – drums

Album Review – Eths / Ex Umbra In Solem EP (2014)

Rachel Aspe is definitely here to stay. Or should I say she’s here to scream?

Rating4

CoverAfter the departure of singer Candice Clot from French Heavy Metal/Hardcore band Eths, no one knew exactly what was going to happen with the band, as she was considered an essential part of its musicality. However, the other band members didn’t waste any time, immediately replacing her with the gorgeous and talented Rachel Aspe (who will pretty soon be our “Metal Chick of the Month”), and now releasing a new EP called Ex Umbra In Solem.

Although the music from this Marseille-based band is entirely in French, “le langage de l’amour”, they’ve chosen Latin instead to name the EP, which in English means something like “From Shadow to the Sun”, maybe as a representation of the moment the band has been through in the past few months before finding Rachel. Anyway, Ex Umbra In Solem is a special digipak limited and numbered 1 to 1,000 (available exclusively at the Season Of Mist’s official e-shop and other French stores), containing a brand new song, three classic tracks recorded live on October 24, 2013 at the Divan du Monde in Paris, France, mixed by Nikhertz at Studio Phantom, and three songs from the III album, re-recorded with Rachel on vocals.

So let’s get down to business with the title-track, Ex Umbra In Solem, the only original song of the EP, with its slow, obscure and delicate intro that suddenly turns into pure violence with great riffs, all fostered by a really nice chorus (“Et je mâche, au plus profond je nage / J’abandonne lentement / Vide, elle flotte à déraison / Isolée, je tombe (in solem)”). Rachel’s voice is really powerful when guttural and smooth when clean, sounding like some of The Agonist songs, and I really wish there were more original tracks here. Well, we’ll have to wait for their next full-length album for that.

Then come the three live tracks recorded last year in Paris, with all instruments cleanly captured for our delight: Samantha might be a very short song, but its live recording sounded amazing, explaining why it was included in the EP. Moreover, Rachel is pretty good live, which is when it really matters, and it’s interesting how she can quickly change her voice in a very consistent way without any sudden breaks. Bulimiarexia shows that, in my humble opinion, although Rachel clean vocals live are not bad at all, she just needs to adjust them a little. And kudos to drummer Guillaume “Yom” Dupré in this track, he sounds amazing. The last live track is the classic Crucifère, and as you can see in the official video below, Rachel’s onstage performance is another reason why she was the chosen one.

In regards to the re-recorded songs from III with Rachel on vocals, they all sound very professional and as heavy as they should be: I have the III album and after listening to both old and new versions of Voragine I’m pretty sure even diehard fans will love Rachel as much as they loved Candice; Harmaguedon is my favorite of the re-recorded versions and will probably be Rachel’s “secret weapon” to win the hearts of the “unfaithful”; and finally Proserpina closes the EP in a very good way, following the high quality of the recording of all songs.

EthsLast but not least, the album art was once again created by photographer and designer Nicolas Sénégas, who already worked on the art of III, and it is a very good graphic translation of the dark, gothic and heavy music generated by Eths.

So after all those good things I’ve said about Ex Umbra In Solem, you might be asking why only a 3.5, right? In fact, it was supposed to be only a 3.0 for having just one brand new song, as there’s a lack of originality and creativity in the whole EP, but at the same time Rachel’s performance is so electrifying in all tracks that it deserved a 4.0, which leads to an average of 3.5: simple math to represent how awesome this new singer will be for the future of the band.

Best moments of the album: Ex Umbra In Solem, Crucifère and Harmaguedon.

Worst moments of the album: The fact that the EP has only one brand new song.

Released in 2014 Season Of Mist

Track listing
1. Ex Umbra In Solem 4:06
2. Samantha (live) 2:38
3. Bulimiarexia (live) 4:22
4. Crucifère (live) 4:33
5. Voragine (Rachel on vocals) 3:49
6. Harmaguedon (Rachel on vocals) 4:45
7. Proserpina (Rachel on vocals) 5:48

Band members
Rachel Aspe — lead vocals
Stéphane “Staif” Bihl — guitar, samples
Damien Rivoal — bass
Guillaume “Yom” Dupré — drums