|Review: Rotting Christ - Aealo|
Label: Season of Mist
Year released: 2010
Genre: Black/Folk Metal
Review online: February 27, 2010
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Rated 4.48/5 (89.5%) (40 Votes)
Rotting Christ have really topped themselves with this one. I was a bit turned off by this album on the first couple of listens due to the inclusion of a traditional choir, and those female vocals do come to the forefront when present – which is quite often – and I found this a bit unnerving at first. Eventually, as is often the case, this whole thing just clicked and I was hooked pretty badly; I find it hard not to press play again when this album is over, and a lot of other albums are begging for attention as a result!
Aealo is Rotting Christ's first concept album, revolving around ancient Greece war thematic though the band hasn't turned into a "war metal" band all of a sudden. If anything, they've cranked the folk aspect up several notches and overall I find that this doesn't sound too much like a black metal album, though the more metallic aspects of the music are strongly rooted in black metal. In addition to the traditional choir that brings a very ancient-sounding, sometimes war-like but always sort of sorrowful touch, the music itself has that ancient sound that just propels you a couple of thousand years back in time. One can't help but think of the movie 300 and to a lesser extent the series Spartacus when listening to this, as Aealo really succeeds in making you feel like you're in the middle of an ancient battle – and living through it.
Of course the folk-ish music is blended with a good dose of raw and effective black metal, bringing in the album's gutsy, heavy backbone, with the lighter, more "artful" folk playing hovering all over. Rotting Christ really nailed this meeting of the old and the new and this unholy alliance just flows along through and through. I can think of a few bands that should take a hint here. Fast black metal meets war-like folk music, you gotta love it.
The traditional choir, as mentioned earlier, does take some getting used to, but it quickly becomes obvious that it's an essential part of Aealo and the album just wouldn't be nearly as good without it. "Nekron Iahes..." is 68 seconds of female "laments" (for lack of a better word) and I found myself skipping it on occasion, and even though it sticks out quite a bit in-between the surrounding songs, it fits the album as a whole. The last song is a cover of Diamanda Galas' "Orders From the Dead" with Diamanda Galas taking care of the vocal duties – essentially this is spoken, not sung, but the vocal style is very strong, emotional and dark, once again a bit of an outlier that nonetheless fits within the concept of the album.
After Theogonia, many wondered if Rotting Christ could come up with something as good, and it's safe to say Aealo is a very worthy successor, taking the whole Greek aspect a few steps further. One of the must-have albums of 2010.
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