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Rotting Christ - Thy Mighty Contract
Review: Most metal bands play rhythm only, because it's the easiest for the proles to grasp; some, wanting to be "different," decide to be melodic, but they lack subtlety and apply that melodic sensibility uniformly to the whole of the music, producing a headache of sweetened sound that by having no variation in consistency becomes background noise. Rotting Christ shows a clarity of vision by writing melodic metal that sparingly applies its beauty, and through attentiveness to the need for intense dynamic variation to create contrast so that its explicitly gentle and sonorous aspects make an impression, it captures what made Black Sabbath distinct from the rock music of the time: a grandly varied intensity coupled with a tendency to write riffs that reduce the accumulated harmony and motion to a simple, world-redefining conclusion; the operatic and theatrical aspects of metal songwriting come together in this momentous sound.
When most bands claim an epic sound, it means they dress up normal music with horns, long pauses, and whole-tone scales on harpsichordish keyboards, but on this album, Rotting Christ shape classic heavy metal through the filter of black metal into something epic by its topic and content. Many of these riffs would not be out of place on a Judas Priest album but here they are organized into something more articulate, transcending the distracting nature of rock music for something both insightful and forceful in its emotional communication.
Vocals are rasping but gently dramatic, floating behind the music in a monotone that underscores the subtleties of each phrase. At times, it resembles the work of crooners of the 1950s whose goal was to stretch out each moment and hammer home each transition, more like storytellers than the rote-repetition singers of the current time. Britney Spears and Children of Bodom are alike in that they take a simple idea, dress it up in technique, and have nothing to say, thus are acceptable music but worthless as art. Rotting Christ is a transcendence of all of these pitfalls on this legendary tribute to the dark powers below.