Rotting Christ

A Dead Poem

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Although their name has always proved a bit much for some to stomach, Greece's Rotting Christ are hardly the most of extreme of black metal bands. In fact, since releasing its brutal 1994 debut, Thy Mighty Contract, the Greek ensemble had steadily expanded its sound into significantly slower tempos, added increasingly large doses of melody, and created two of the most accessible extreme metal albums one might ever encounter in 1994's Non Serviam and 1996's Triarchy of the Lost Lovers. This progression continued into the band's fourth full-length, 1997's strangely titled A Dead Poem, which, whether one is partial to Rotting Christ's darker or lighter sides, unquestionably ranks as one of their best collection of songs. Clearly on a roll in their collaboration with renowned producer Waldemar Sorychta, the bandmembers fearlessly embraced their goth tendencies on this album, combining aggressive riffs and infectious guitar harmonies to produce career highlights like "Sorrowful Farewell," "Among Two Storms," and the title track -- even sequencing them into a formidable one-two-three punch fit to knock down any naysayers. But the album was hardly over after that, and subsequent highlights such as the synthesizer-enhanced "As If by Magic," the stirring instrumental "Ten Miles High," and the acoustic guitar-driven "Ira Incensus" are sure to keep listeners mesmerized through to the finish. That is, so long as they're not purists beholden to Rotting Christ's original blueprint, in which case they would have to wait a few more years (and endure 1999's similarly styled successor, Sleep of the Angels, where the band's goth metal wellspring abruptly dried up) before their heroes revisited some of their more primal songwriting instincts via 2000's Khronos.

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