Two things hit home right away once you commence on Aealo. First, the record is intense like dark, hotly spiced chocolate consumed with ruby red wine. And – second – it is not Black Metal. At least not in a proper sense. Okay, nothing new there, as even the powers that be officially called Rotting Christ Dark or Extreme Metal back in 2010.
And in truth, the Black Metal thing only (kind of) came back with the 2016 album Rituals. Despite the fact that the band hastened to state that this newest record would encompass all kinds of rituals. Weird ones and weirder ones still.
That is not to say that Aealo does not include Black Metal elements, it does – and extensively so. But you will find that many more elements of other styles exist on this record. In addition, the band added some archaic instruments and a bunch of guest musicians to spice things up some.
And yet, this album really sounds like an add-on to Rotting Christ‘s earlier hammer blow called Theogonia. I really like the exquisitely aggressive stance starting with the title track.
And what heretics Rotting Christ have become, now, haven’t they?
You will find female chants galore on this disc, leaning heavily on Greek traditions straight from the first note onwards. I daresay that some parts of the fan base got seriously flustered when they hit play for the opening track. As for yours truly, I found this pretty neat at first. Yet Rotting Christ have this tendency to overdo things a little throughout their records, and Aealo makes no difference. So much so that the chanting kind of wears you out after a while.
Now, the second track Eon Aenaos serves as a forerunner in structure and style to what Rituals delivered in 2016. Spice all of that up with the excellent Demonon Vrosis and you got yourself a sturdy little album going. You know, the one with the somewhat similar riff than on Athanati Este of Sanctus Diavolos.
I really like how the incantation at the beginning leads into the track with a powerful and kind of addictive riff. The track even includes a somewhat subdued solo. And this on extreme metal leaning towards the blackened kingdom.
Well, the tracklist loses some of its luster for a while. But fear not, oh metal fan, …Pir Threontai and – following that one – Thou Art Lord will put things back together for ya. The latter is a pretty cool Moonspell soundalike, Night Eternal style by the way. The album would end well too if only they would have avoided this PR disaster Orders from the Dead. Nods towards Greek mythological roots only fly to a point, if you want to do a metal album. And this last track overdoes things big time. Perhaps a more careful track selection for this album would have done the overall quality a world of good.
In conclusion, Aealo somewhat seamlessly follows on from Theogonia. It is a deliciously aggressive, solid and noteworthy metal offering at a pretty high level of quality reaching us from the Greek islands. Intensely flavored and never letting up the pressure, the album nevertheless somehow loses some serious juice in the middle part of the album. You get the impression of déjà-vu, a sense of interchangeability setting in quickly. And the somewhat botched ending does not help matters either.
Still, the album is good and sturdy Extreme Metal with many a Black Metal ingredient woven into the song structure. And it is true Rotting Christ fare, make no mistake. In a way, this records started to pave the way to the band’s future sound.
On top, they stayed and still stay true to their credo, whilst always bringing on just enough change to their chanting to keep things interesting. It will never cease to amaze me how this band always manages to churn out good records that stick. Even after so many years of service. And you need to give them credit for that.