We write the year 2000. This was the time when the world awoke to the Y2K disaster that did not happen, even if it was widely hyped. Christ did not return to this mortal coil either, nor the devil for that matter. No earthquakes to speak of, the Earth did not break up and no major asteroids hit the blue planet. A non-event after all these predictions, Nostradamus be damned.
But the Black Metal universe – in contrast – spawned a felt gazillion of metal records. To cite just two of them: Immortal crab-walked themselves into Damned in Black and Gorgoroth hailed their mighty unholy master with Incipit Satan.
In the meantime, Rotting Christ prepared to release their 6th full-length album Khronos just around the time the Gary Bauer controversy erupted. The then US Republican Presidential wannabe candidate made his now-famous allegations about homosexuality and a lack of Catholicism in relation to the band. Once the album did release in the unholy year of the Dark Lord 2000, all was said and done.
Why the band chose to issue an official statement is beyond me. Besides, Mr. Bauer disappeared relatively quickly from the metal radars around the country. Big laughter, by the way: This guy should have known that the band would not budge, just because he chose to raise a stink.
So, truly interesting times to unchain a new Black Metal album by Greece’s beloved sons of the occult.
Khronos (= time) is very appropriately named as well. The album in many ways marks a return to former times and to their rougher origins. And – in a way – a turn away from the distinctly Gothic setting starting with A Dead Poem. Yet again, the band included the lessons learned from their foray onto Gothic territory. So much so that you face a more melodic, but still roughened-down music style. And this is a remarkable change, starting with the first track Thou Art Blind.
Whilst the first three tracks are great to listen to, the real grinder comes with the excellent Aeternus. The (official) lyrics are great too, but the whispered ones just before the actual chant start to take the cake. Just savor this one: “Our addiction is [the or our] evil, the propensity of this evil lies in the weakness before it…”.
This track really echoes the rough aggressiveness of The Triarchy of the Lost Lovers and Non-Serviam, whilst presenting itself in a slightly more melodic robe. And all this born-again brutality just to return to Gothic undercurrents with Art of Sin in the follow-on track.
All these shenanigans aside, the overall sound on Khronos features a more modern, faster flavor with a better flow. Faster and modern is not necessarily good for a stellar Black Metal album, though. But flow for sure is, just look at masterpieces like Litourgyia from Batushka.
In a sense, by marrying the old aggressive stance with some gothic injections and a speedier approach, Khronos somewhat positions itself outside of the norm of a Black Metal album. And that is, in itself, a great positive point.
Now, can the album keep your interest levels up for the full length?
And it is a mighty tracklist. In a way, it can, but the somewhat simple song structures and a couple of apparent duds pull the album down some. Let me just mention Lucifer over London (cover – Current 93), which isn’t even good filler material. It is just bad.
And in truth, the energy levels are seriously down as of mid-point of the album. Which has a pretty dire influence on the overall quality.
In all, Khronos did not get my juices flowing the way Triarchy of the Lost Lovers could. The Greeks however still punched out a solid Black and Extreme Metal album that should be worthy of your time. Rotting Christ managed to morph the Gothic undercurrents of former albums into a more aggressive, faster Extreme Metal style, yet still reminiscent of a rougher past.
This turns the record into a juicy chunk of metal, full of interesting hooks, sturdy riffs, and aggressive rasps. Were it not for the filler tracks, this album might have rated higher. In other words, less would have been more in this instance. A pity.