The new year is still fresh, so what better moment than this one to reflect on some old metal for a change.
Old? ’90s are old?
Well, yeah, if you look at the rapid-fire development all things metal took since then. We sure show a totally different landscape today, if compared to all these years ago. And for sure again if you look at the style changes Rotting Christ took over the years to the present day. Triarchy of the Lost Lovers really took a fresh look at things and delivered powerfully well.
In essence, 1996 was a year of turning points of sorts!
This was the year where the mad cow hit the UK. Osama was still very active and a felt gazillion of black churches were burnt in the South of the US. 1996 was also the year that gave new direction to the Greek outfit Rotting Christ from thrashing malevolence to a more accessible doomish, kind of dreamy, but still grand Melodic Black Metal style.
Triarchy of the Lost Lovers – signed to Sleaszy Rider Records for the re-release – emerged from this deep underground cave. The place where things like their album Non Serviam or the Czech Master’s Hammer Rituàl dwell (no pun intended). Not to forget Burzum and their strangely captivating and somewhat hypnotic delivery Filosofeum. Or Ulver’s very unconventional Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler to make matters whole. A major influence to today’s Myrkur. It was indeed a year of turning points in many ways for many other bands too. Just remember the Melodic Death Metal movement with the prog-laden Elegy from Amorphis.
Triarchy of the Lost Lovers sidestepped a lot of this groundbreaking stuff!
Basically by breaking their own ground. And they went ahead to launch a much more melodic, yet still very crunchy and growly assault on their fan base. But clearly apart from the raw stuff served in former offerings. The outcome was a somewhat frugal, bare bone style of Black Metal the Tolis brothers catapulted to the stage. In a sense, the style is reminiscent of present day My Silent Wake. A doomish concoction that will make you continue walking down this dark Roman alley. Like some weary warrior escaping the pagan hordes alongside decayed buildings.
Whilst mixing and mastering balance well, the ubiquitous and sometimes off-kilter drum work with its ever-returning snare sounds just gets your blood boiling after a while. A more sophisticated performance beyond the mean bass-kick/snare with some cymbals joined in would have left the forces of light out there in the dust even better.
Yet as it is in this record – and those before – this was not to be. This and the somewhat monotonous and repetitive delivery will surely lose them some stars in the ranking department.
So, Quo Vadis Triarchy?
King of a Stellar War marches right down doom road with some astonishing mid-tempo, amp-laden oomph. I like their way of stepping right into the fray with hard riffing by Sakis Tolis. And the in-your-face unclean vocals that seem to be omnipresent.
You are also gonna like some subdued, but excellent soloing on some of the tracks. The one in Diastric Alchemy always makes me pause and come back for seconds. That they did not lose their knack for thrashing shows in Archon with – to my surprise – some sturdier drumming. Now, the track Snowing Still takes the lead of the pack in this blackened concoction. Probably the juiciest slab of metal in this here piece of work.
Triarchy of the Lost Lovers presents itself as somewhat of a cross-over. Away from the dark and very thrashy style to a very powerful, albeit slower version of their tune. And whilst the signs are set that will ultimately lead them to trespass into Gothic territory, this album is not yet it. And for sure none of the Extreme Metal offerings of the present day are visible yet.
All in all, this is a classy, very red-blooded Black Metal offering. Mostly mid-tempo, but with meaty riffs, great solos and a raw vocal contribution that really pulls you in until the service ends. Slowly, but powerfully. In the end, by stepping out of that cave and taking a new direction, Rotting Christ went ahead and created a now legendary album that still resonates to this day.