Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rotting Christ - Triarchy of the Lost Lovers (1996)

The third full-length album from Rotting Christ, Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, was released on Century Media Records in August 1996. This effort takes the style that was established on Thy Mighty Contract and Non Serviam to its logical conclusion, with more emphasis on the melodic aspects. Though this is the final L.P. from the band's classic period, it may take a few listens to grow on you, due to some of the changes.

The material on Triarchy of the Lost Lovers is more mid-paced, in general, than on the previous albums. Despite the fact that those records featured a decent amount of slower riffs, Rotting Christ really takes the time to develop this aspect of their sound and to limit the use of faster parts. As a result, much of the music here has more of an epic feeling than before. This is also strengthened by the increased utilization of lead solos, which are all over the place. Rather than speeding through and doing very little, the leads do well to accentuate the atmosphere. The playing is very tight and it is clear that the band has full control over what is going on. The synth is still being employed, though still in a more subtle manner. The vocals feature much less of the higher-pitched, raspier screams than before. That is unfortunate, though the style of the music really leaves less room for this approach. Otherwise, Necromayhem sounds quite the same as on the last couple records. The drumming sounds more realistic, this time around. Though Sauron was credited on the previous albums, the percussion sounded exactly the same as the drum machine used for Thou Art Lord. While the band's other full-length albums were not exactly primitive, there was still room for straightforward tracks like "The Sign of Evil Existence". Here, nearly every song is much more thought-out and rather complicated, with a variety of tempos and riffs. The music features similar doom-inspiring riffs as those found on Non Serviam, just less stripped-down and more melodic. There are still a good number of the band's trademark staccato riffs, though employed at a slower pace. Between the songwriting and the mix, itself, this album has more of a cold feeling as opposed to the warmer feeling of its predecessor. The end result is strong material that holds up, over time, with unforgettable melodies that are difficult to shake. "King of a Stellar War", "Snowing Still" and "One With the Forest" are some of the best examples and serve as highlights of the album.

The production is one of the things that may turn some people off, perhaps as much as the title itself. It is much clearer than on the band's previous material. In truth, it is a little over-produced. However, with the style of music that is presented on Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, it is not as if it would have benefited that much from a necro sound. Given that the music is so much more melodic and epic than on the earlier works by Rotting Christ, the production is rather appropriate. The guitars dominate the soundscape, while not really being pushed too high in the mix. While each instrument can be heard very easily, the riffs are highlighted and the rest is obviously there to support the guitars, instead of distracting from them. The overall sound is more dynamic than the last album, which sounds sort of flat by comparison.

Triarchy of the Lost Lovers is a solid record. It sacrifices speed and intensity for melody and an epic feel, which seems like a natural progression from the last couple of albums. With this release, there is no shift in style; rather, the band's sound has evolved and certain elements have grown in prominence. For the most part, all of the songs are pretty consistent and carry their own weight. This is the last Rotting Christ album worth getting and should appeal to fans of Thy Mighty Contract and Non Serviam, as long as you can get past the slower pace and the more polished sound. There is an absence of any type of dark or evil atmosphere, but this L.P. possesses a character of its own that makes it a unique addition to the band's discography. Give this a chance.