Rotting Christ – Pro Xristou

4 min read

Band: Rotting Christ
Album: Pro Xristou
Release date: May 24, 2024
Label: Seasons of Mist
Country: Greece
Format reviewed: High-quality digital recording

Well… this is definitely interesting. After over 35 years, greek black metal masters Rotting Christ have delivered a new record, some 5 years after 2019’s “The Heretics”. Despite the record’s undoubted charm and musicality, I can’t help but feel like it didn’t reach its full potential in any way. The experience of me listening to this record, is, first of all, as surprising as it may get. Usually when listening to albums I plan on reviewing I happen to be alone in my room, or perhaps out somewhere quiet, with just my headphones on hand, enjoying underground gems is peace. This time, however, I remember my mother asking me to listen to this album together with her while preparing dinner. This didn’t strike me as odd, at first, as I knew her to be a fan of the band’s work, but what I didn’t expect was how casual, nonthreatening and overall friendly the music was. Even by my mother’s standards, the album was surprising, for the lack of a better term, chill, and definitely not what you would expect regarding the album title and the album cover. Regarding the band’s previous efforts, it was obvious that they were heavily leaning on the melodic aspect, but even on “The Heretics” there was still an edge to the music, which seems to have utterly vanished into thin air on Pro Xristou. On the other hand, the album definitely offers a wide range of soundscapes and experimental passages that are to be appreciated and regarded for their undoubted artistic qualities, but leaving aside the anti Christian themes included within the lyrics, this album is as far away from black metal as it gets. If I am being honest, it is much closer to the likes of Iron Maiden, than their debut record and the rest of the Hellenic black metal scene. If you take the new album by Dodsferd, or anything by the likes of Lloth and Varathron and put it next to Pro Xristou you woldn’t be able to tell that we’re speaking if bands of the same genre.

On another note, it is only fair we give this album the credit that it deserves. I was genuinely impressed by the narrative qualities of the music, the thought put into every single detail in terms of songwriting, and the performance itself is definitely up there. It is obvious that everything has been planned out, up to the tiniest details. Another interesting aspect are the guest appearances scattered throughout the record, one of the most memorable being that on Norwegian visual artist Kim Diaz Holm which, along with delivering a narrative passage on the song Yggdrassil, also created all the art for the lyric video of the same song, which I find truly interesting. Sakis Tolis offers once again a unique vocal performance that brings an almost ritualistic feel to the whole album. The Greek cultural aspects are more noticeable than ever in the band’s music, which gives them what would be considered a folk metal feeling to the music as a whole.

Although the band has moved further and further away from their roots musically, their spirit still stands strong. I see this album as a turning point in their career, as it offers them an opportunity to experiment and create a style of metal unique to them, even moving away from black metal completely. However, I found the lack of rhythmic changes on the album rather frustrating, as most of the songs have the same tempo and time signature, being more or less mid paced. A few songs would have actually benefited from faster tempos, but there is a high chance that would have messed up the atmosphere the band was going for on this record, which is one of my favourite pars of the whole thing.

Overall, Pro Xristou ended up surprising me more than I expected, in more than one way. Despite its flaws, it is without a doubt a solid record, and another step forward in the journey of Rotting Christ. It also begs the question of what the band’s future efforts will look like. 8/10 by Ioanna

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8/10: To Greatness and Glory
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