Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rotting Christ - Thy Mighty Contract (1993)


Thy Mighty Contract is the first full-length album from Greece's Rotting Christ. After some demos and EPs, the bands sound shifted from a more grindcore sound toward Black Metal. This album is very symbolic for the band, as it possesses the raw and aggressive feeling from the early days while also displaying the melody and dark atmospheres that the band would come to be known for.

I discovered Rotting Christ while listening to "The Haunted Mansion", several years ago. The song, "Iced Shaped God", was from the band's second LP, Non Serviam. It took a long time for me to track that down, and I actually only acquired it due to my girlfriend's kindness. After properly digesting that album, I sought more Rotting Christ but was not as pleased with Triarchy of the Lost Lovers. Over a year would pass before I got my hands on Thy Mighty Contract, which impressed me from the very first listen.

"The Sign of Evil Existence" begins with a very ominous tone. The usual staccato rhythmic, yet melodic, riffing is present from the very start along with some added keyboards for effect. The build-up is brief, but effective. This song unleashes lightning fast, razor-sharp riffs and high, raspy vocals. The album immediately slices the listener's throat with this one. It's brief, but definitely sets the tone for things to come.

"Transform All Sufferings Into Plagues" is next, and begins much slower than the previous song. It is reminiscent of early Tiamat or Varathron, in the atmosphere and approach. This song features nice harmonized riffs, as well as some slower doom riffs and even some keyboard usage. There is a nice solo, near the end, before the pace slows back down.

There is a strong Heavy Metal influence to this album, which is very apparent. Also, the bass has a more prominent role, at time, giving a more organic feel to the music. Often, the harmonized riffs are supported by slower power chords, giving an epic feeling of doom. There is no shortage of memorable riffs on Thy Mighty Contract, which is pretty typical with Greek Black Metal. The vocals range from the dry and raspy vocals, heard on the opening song, to more throaty deathlike vocals. They synth is present only when needed, adding to the atmosphere but never overpowering the sound. This is handled by Magus Wampyr Daoloth of Necromantia, who also provides some vocals. "Exiled Archangel" even features a spoken passage. One of the true hihglights of this album (there are many) has to be "The Coronation of the Serpent". From the evil and instense beginning, this song goes on to be quite epic in nature. This is a good lead-in to the final song, "The Fourth Knight of Revelation".

On this album, Rotting Christ does well to combine the occult Black Metal atmosphere with the melodic Heavy Metal influences and create something mystical and unique. Along with Varathron's His Majesty At the Swamp and Necromantia's Crossing the Fiery Path, this is one of the cornerstones of Greek Black Metal and it is highly recommended that you pick this up or suffer impalement.