A long time ago, we used to have a regular column here at Rockpages called “Diamonds & Rust”. In this frame, we presented two records of one band; the good side (Diamond) and the bad or uninspired moment (Rust). So, we resurrected it a while ago with Blackmore’s Night, AC/DC, KISS, Journey and Deep Purple. Now, let’s move to the extreme metal scene with Rotting Christ.
Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers (1996)
I think few will disagree about the top of this band. The ultimate masterpiece of their history, an unsurpassed black gem of the black metal scene. Sakis has said that it contains some of the best riffs he has ever written. Dark, cold, melancholic, full of black melodies and gripping moments. Almost exclusively mid-tempo (apart from “Archon” and some small outbursts in other songs), that helped so much in building the riveting atmosphere of the album. The band actually went one step further and perfected the recipe that had started with the also huge “Non Servian”, two years ago. This is the album that contains one of the five all-time classics in the history of the band, “King Of A Stellar War” but also my personal favorite “Shadows Follow” which I consider to be the best composition in their career. The excellent production of Andy Classen makes it sound as if it came out just yesterday, giving it a timeless sound. The album marked the end of their first period and they did not try to play like that again, as it would probably be impossible even for them to surpass it. Nine hymns, forty-seven minutes of perfection. Masterpiece.
Sanctus Diavolos (2004)
From the first moment it didn’t pair well with my ears and it did not succeed to do it even after many times I listened to it over the years. Some people consider it a masterpiece, I just find it a bit strange and quite experimental. Of course, the band has experimented many times in its long and glorious history but each album had a certain flow and a common orientation from beginning to end. But here you listen to tracks that seem unconnected to each other. Strange rhythms and structures (“Tyrannical”, “You My Cross”, “Shades Of Evil”), unnecessary instrumentals (“Sanctimonious”), mediocre production and a general industrial aesthetic in several parts that do not fits with their sound at all. In the same fate and some samples that do not help the situation. The strange thing for me is that “Sanctus Diavolos” is between the amazing “Genesis” (2002) and “Theogonia” (2007). The classic anthem for the band “Athanati Este”, the great melody of “Serve In Heaven” and the epic crescendo of the self-titled track are not enough to lift up a rather weak album.