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Pro Xristou

Greece Country of Origin: Greece

Pro Xristou
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: May 24th, 2024
Genre: Black, Gothic
1. Pro Xristou (Προ Χριστού)
2. The Apostate
3. Like Father, Like Son
4. The Sixth Day
5. La Lettera Del Diavolo
6. The Farewell
7. Pix Lax Dax
8. Pretty World, Pretty Dies
9. Yggdrasil
10. Saoirse
11. Primal Resurrection (Bonus Track)
12. All For One (Bonus Track)

Review by Vladimir on May 29, 2024.

When Varathron released their new album "The Crimson Temple" in December 2023, I had very high hopes that the new album by Rotting Christ would also perform very well, possibly exceeding all the initial expectations. I will admit that I was a bit worried at first, wondering whether they would really provide something that could also be considered as a strong contestant, or perhaps just another generic entry in their discography. Well, come May 24th, 2024, the wait was finally put to rest, as the fourteenth full-length album Pro Xristou was finally released via the label Season Of Mist, with so much anticipation and excitement coming from the fanbase worldwide. Have the brothers Sakis and Themis managed to give us something glorious, powerful and outstanding to behold? Is Pro Xristou a mighty collection of poems that will be remembered in ages? Stay tuned to find out…

Rotting Christ returns with their epic and melodic Hellenic metal, represented in such a grandiose and cinematic way with a lot of emotions and strong expressionism that flows through the spiritual vocals of Sakis Tolis, epic choirs, simple but heavy riffs, spartan-like drumming and powerful melodies. From the very get-go, this album already starts off so strongly with such a huge introduction that instantly throws you into the scenery of Thomas Cole’s painting. Rather than being just your usual collection of songs, this album also feels like an epic poem as well, with a heavily pronounced approach of storytelling through music, where the album’s progression feels like transitioning from one chapter to another. Speaking of storytelling through music, judging by the title of each track I’d say that this album is consisted Biblical, mythological and historical themes, which has been a staple of Rotting Christ’s music for sometime now, and here they seem to have shown a much more elevated performance in comparison to some of its predecessors like The Heretics from 2019. Stylistically, this album is various in terms of its ideas, ranging from their latest works from Theogonia to The Heretics, but with a touch of some earlier works like A Dead Poem, Sleep Of The Angels and Khronos, showcasing that melodic and extreme gothic-style Hellenic metal with frequent mid-tempo rhythm, alongside the guttural shouting vocals of Sakis Tolis. Some examples like the seventh track “Pix Lax Dax” and “Pretty World, Pretty Dies” incorporate a bit of Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers elements as well, whilst including some awesome epic choir vocals during the choruses and still staying on track with the overall album template. Aside from the heavy expressionism and storytelling that dictate the musical flow of the album, it is also very atmospheric, which essentially plays a key role in every song and it really makes you picture the event of Goths sacking Rome, just like the painting itself. There is an immense sense of build-up as the album progresses, especially when the songs start off with a short introduction narration by Sakis Tolis that opens up a new chapter in the album’s storyline. This element of build-up is very frequent throughout the entire album, and it's essentially preparing you for the climax of the album that awaits towards the very end, especially once you reach the ninth track 'ᛦᚵᛑᚱᛆᛋᛁᛚ (Yggdrasil)' that is like the calm before the storm. As for the album’s grand finale with the last track 'Saoirse' (unless you count the bonus tracks 'Primal Resurrection' and 'All For One'), it really is done in such a manner like a major event in this album’s chapter that gives this powerful sense of closure before Rome is finally burned down to ashes, presented as a pure cinematic moment that occurs before the credits roll.

Songwriting-wise, Rotting Christ always took a very simplistic approach, which stylistically speaking doesn’t have too much dynamics or variety, but for the most part it was very effectively carried out and this album is no exception in that regard. Rotting Christ discography has mostly managed to leave me moderately satisfied with the musical approach, but a lot of the times it felt like it was a bit empty or somewhat too much similar by following the same stylistic pattern, however in the case of Pro Xristou, it feels much less like a “template-based” album, and it certainly breaks away from that general issue that has been bugging me quite some time. When Sakis Tolis released the album "The Seven Seals Of The Apocalypse - (Revelation 6:5-7)" of his side project χ ξ ς' in November last year, it had left me concerned that the new Rotting Christ album was going to be along the same line because it sounded way too similar to what had already been done before and heard multiple times over the last 10 or so years. Luckily, my curiosity always gets the best of me and it manages to crush all the doubts I may have, so it’s safe to say that I am actually satisfied that Pro Xristou is its own entity that separates itself from the field of lazy and “template-based songwriting, where many of his predecessors would fall victim to that issue. This album really feels like a strong presentation that captures the essence of various events learned through history and mythology, which contributes to the overall dynamic and the essence of the album.

The general flow with its narrative style, simple riffing and frequent melodies succeeded at keeping constant attention as to what will happen next, and it certainly gives a grand pay-off at one point where you will definitely come across some intense headbanging moments that are totally worth it. In some ways, Pro Xristou feels like a very well-crafted cinematic soundtrack made by a very respected Hollywood composer that could probably give Hans Zimmer a run for his money, with each song dictating emotions and the general feeling of a certain scene in a movie. I am aware that Rotting Christ has been criticized for using the Thomas Cole’s painting “Destruction” as the album’s cover art, mostly due to the fact that multiple bands before them have used it as cover art for their albums, but I honestly don’t mind it as much, simply because I think it suits the album’s overall style and narrative, although I will agree that this painting is overused and somewhat less-impactful in that regard. On the final note, the album’s production was carefully handled by the hands of multiple people in charge, and the end result is a very powerful modern sound which blasts the volumes through the speakers, perfectly elevating every bit of instrumentation and vocal performance.

Personally, I have to say that Pro Xristou is an overall very solid and strong album that stands out in the band’s catalog thanks to its powerful and outstanding band performance. I am very glad that all my initial doubts were put to rest once I finally got the chance to check out this grand and epic album that captures the essence of Hellenic metal and encompasses everything that Rotting Christ is best known for. Over the last few years, we were very lucky to get some awesome albums by the respected Greek bands, with "The Crimson Temple" by Varathron, "Βυσσοδομώντας" by The Magus and Pro Xristou by Rotting Christ being some of the key examples that perfectly show that this scene still stands strong with its founding fathers.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10