Album Review: Rotting Christ - ΠΡΟ ΧΡΙΣΤΟU (Pro Xristou)

Album Review: Rotting Christ - ΠΡΟ ΧΡΙΣΤΟU (Pro Xristou)

Titans of the Greek Extreme Metal/Melodic Black Metal Rotting Christ are one of those bands who practice continuous growth whilst maintaining a high level of God-Tier perfection. But one cannot help but wonder if the momentum would ever begin to diminish.

No. No it does not and no it will not. In fact, it gets stronger, far surpassing the efforts that came before which is a feat in itself. Pro Xistoru ('Before Christ' in Greek) is Rotting Christ's 14th studio album and serves as an impassioned tribute to the last Pagans to hold a stand against Christianity in an attempt to protect the old ways and traditions. Calling on elements of all kinds of extreme metal combined with a blasphemous air of superiority and darkly grandiose atmosphere, Rotting Christ are one of the pioneers of the Hellenic Black Metal scene and continue to lead the charge in a blaze of fiery glory. Rotting Christ delves into the legacies of historical figures such as Flavius Claudius Julianus and Nordic mythological kings, embodying the might of Pagan wisdom in the face of Christian adversity.

Kicking things off with the title track and setting the tone for the record with a dramatic introduction of just under a minute and a half long. Pounding war-like drums, rising guitars and chanting vocals rouse the listener in to a frenzy as if they are to march against the Christian armies. 'The Apostate' charges in to the forefront with a rolling riff and thunderous drums before the Benedictine-style vocalisations take over and make way for Sakis' signature haunting spoken word murmurs. This track is a nod to The Heretics of 2019 but with a tighter production and even more bombastic attitude if that's even possible. The atmosphere in this track is atmospherically powerful and dark. The band don't waste any time in letting the world know they have returned. 'Like Father, Like Son' continues with the same formula, soaring guitar riffs and rumbling drums that echo across the land. Sakis switches to his rasping black metal vocals with that strong Grecian accent that makes him instantly recognisable. 'The Sixth Day' is a chugging, bass-heavy gothic wonder of their earlier material but again, would sit quite comfortably within the realms of Rituals and The Heretics. The guitars are centre point of focus here with gorgeous, catchy riffs throughout on a backdrop of monastic vocalisations.

'La Lettera Del Diavolo' brings the blastbeats to the core with guest vocals from Amdroniki Skoula chanting in to the void with vigour and powerful yet haunting grace. The crescendo of this track builds in dramatic grandeur dense with Pagan chants and rousing energy. 'The Farewell' returns to that middle pace of rhythmical drumming, chugging guitar riffs and haunting chants giving way to black metal rasps and screams. 'Pix Lax Dax' starts with a sole guitar riff and gentle drums as the wind blows and wisps itself around you creating an image of standing atop a mountain, looking out across the landscape in a state of contemplation. The blast beats and intricate riffs explode with yet more monastic chants, female vocalisations and energising atmosphere.

As the last section of the record begins, 'Pretty World, Pretty Dies' opens with the sound of battle and warfare behind an ominous whispering message about how the world will end in a whimper. The groove-infused riffs and thunderous drums lead the march here in a swinging anvil of a mid-tempo stomp. 'ᛦᚵᛑᚱᛆᛋᛁᛚ' (Yggdrasil) swells and soars with invigorating force. The war-like blastbeats make their return as do the chants of an impassioned Nordic army creating an electrifyingly opulent atmosphere. The spoken word battle speech adds an extra layer of exuberance. Finally, the record closes with 'Saoirse,' a rallying war-cry with choirs, incredible orchestration and thunderous drums; one final push for power and glory with Rotting Christ at the helm of it all.

A sonic journey in to anti-Christian domains complete with dramatic and swelling monastic chants, orchestration of the grandest caliber, vocals spanning powerful, commanding and impassioned on a foundation of incredible guitars and thunderous drums which summon the Old Gods themselves. Rotting Christ have outdone themselves with Pro Xristou, long may they reign.

Rating: 9/10
Release Date: May 24th 2024
Released By: Season of Mist
FFO: SepticFlesh, Varathron, Necromantia, Macabre Omen

Track List:

01 - Προ Χριστού
02 - The Apostate
03 - Like Father, Like Son
04 - The Sixth Day
05 - La Letra del Diavolo
06 - The Farewell          
07 - Pix Lax Dax  
08 - Pretty World, Pretty Dies
09 - ᛦᚵᛑᚱᛆᛋᛁᛚ
10 - Saoirse

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