Sunday 10 March 2013

Rotting Christ - Kata Ton Daimona Eatoy (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 1/3/2013
Label : Season of Mist

Kata Ton Daimona Eatoy, tracklisting

01 – In Yumen-Xibalba 6:25
02 – P’unchaw kachun- Tuta kachun 4:45
03 – Grandis Spiritus Diavolos 5:52
04 – Κατάτον Δαίμονα Ἐαυτοὗ (Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy) 4:53
05 – Cine iubeste si lasa 5:59
06 – Iwa Voodoo 4:37
07 – Gilgames 4:02
08 – Русалка (Rusalka) 4:33
09 – Ahura Mazda-Azra Mainiuu 4:44
10 –  Χ Ξ Σ (666) 5:46
11 – Welcome To Hel (bonus track) 4:28
"KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY" means "Do What Thou Wilt" and according to the infamous English occultist Aleister Crowley (1875–1947) this "shall be the whole of the law" of the coming Æon of Horus. This title links ROTTING CHRIST to their heritage as pioneers of Black Metal. The Greek band was founded as early as 1987 by guitarist and vocalist Sakis Tolis together with his brother Themis on drums. They started out playing Deathgrind, but had already turned to darker paths by the time their debut full-length "Thy Mighty Contract" (1993) was unleashed. On the following seven albums covering a ten year period from "Non Serviam" (1994) to "Sanctus Diavolos" (2004), ROTTING CHRIST steadily refined their style by experimenting with elements from Death, Heavy and Gothic Metal without betraying their black roots. At the same time the band went from underground heroes to headliner status. Yet with the highly acclaimed "Theogonia" (2007) the Greek veterans added an unmistakable native element to their sound, which gave their ninth full-length a very distinctive and individual twist. Such a masterpiece can hardly be surpassed, but ROTTING CHRIST held their ground with "AEALO" (2010). Their country’s rich ancient heritage was translated into the universal language of Metal with added female choirs, ancient reed pipes as well as folkloristic melodies and rhythms. Now "KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY" takes this musical and lyrical concept another step further. ROTTING CHRIST have clearly found their very own sound, which they skilfully vary with female vocals, piano, bagpipes, horns and by other means. Their excellent songwriting is extremely confident and displays a maturity and perfection born out of long years of composing and experience. This band knows exactly what it is doing. The principle of "Do What Thou Wilt" is the threat leading through this amazing album, which is inspired by ancient cultures around the globe. ROTTING CHRIST employ poetry from the Sumerians and Incas as well as a Romanian folk song, the tale of an undead Russian water spirit, Voodoo, Zoroastrianism and other sources. Dive deep into "KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY" and witness its wonders

Sakis Tolis: vocals, guitars, bass
Themis Tolis: drums

'Do What Thou Wilt' may very well be the whole of the law in Greece at the moment, what with the nation being in political and social turmoil. With this in mind, the translated title of Rotting Christ's latest is very apt indeed.

European in sound and approach this record starts well and really grabbed my attention from the off. Stylistically, you can hear Type O Negative, Samael, Moonspell, even Iron Maiden and more black metal type fare here. The production is right on the money- evenly mixed, expertly played and very professional sounding. I can have a guess at translating the song titles, or type them into a search engine for translation, but part of the appeal of the release to my Northern European ears is the mystery.

It is quite unlike releases to come out of the UK/Scandinavia, but a reference point may be Primordial or similar. Once again, the line-up is of two people (brothers Sakis and Themis) and a superb sound it is they create. Sakis clearly has a depth and breadth of vision so total and unique that he MUST control all aspects of it. No bad thing, as many of metal's success stories are dictatorships in all but name.  The songs flow together well with most tracks clocking in between four and six minutes. This lends a consistency to the record and allows the listener to simply play it in its entirety- no need to skip tracks here.

All of them have different production and compositional elements to enjoy. The press release references folklore and historical/ethnic reference points. A plus there is that the listener can research them should they want to and thus immerse themselves in the record beyond just the sound and vibe that they encounter. I won’t do that here, as I will leave it to you to explore, should you wish. Suffice it to say that a band coming from a country as culturally rich as Greece is never going to run out of heroes, history and Homeric themes with which to weave song themes from.

There is even a metal take on a Romanian folk song at the half way point with rather stunning female vocals to boot (don't think Nightwish here- much cooler!). In many ways the vibe reminded me of (latter day) Sepultura at their most adventurous and culturally quirky. If you enjoyed their “Dante” opus, you will find much to enjoy here. The riffing is well executed with high and low guitar lines intertwining or overlaying each other with some excellently melancholy lead work coming up throughout too.

Rotting Christ exist in that rare bracket of metal that is heavy without being necessarily aggressive. That is not so rare in the doom genre, perhaps, but more unusual in the field of black metal etc. that RC inhabits. This makes the record oddly accessible and certainly gives it an appeal beyond the confines of sub-genre pigeon-holing that often excludes wholes sections of listeners.  It is very difficult to pick stand out tracks here as the whole record is of such a quality. However, I very much enjoyed “Ahura Mazda-Anra Mainiuu” which has many of the best elements of the album in one track, I thought.  A very rhythmical drumming performance from Themis propels the album along and compliments the melodies (yes there are many!) and more forceful riffing nicely. The track “666” closes the record proper with more monk like chanting, bell like cymbal sounds and Hellenic atmosphere.

“Welcome to Hel” (there must a be a pun there somewhere...) gives us a very worthwhile bonus track and really rounds off the release. If you buy this one, and you should, then you more than get your money's worth. The record is cohesive, unusual, adventurous and very much genre spanning. If you fancy hearing something different and you are a fan of doom, black, trad and even death metal, then you will find much to enjoy here. A superb record from a unique band.
Words by : Richard Maw
As always show your support to the band.  You can purchase this from Season of Mist directly or at the usual places for DD.  Thanks to Gunnar @ SOM for hooking us up as per usual.  This truly is a brilliant record.