Album Retrospective

Retrospective #3 – Monster Magnet

Monster Magnet are New Jersey’s finest! Originally formed in 1989, only Dave Wyndorf remains from the original line-up. This retrospective will cover their first 10 studio albums and does not include their latest 2021 covers album.

In the 90’s, it was very hard to find Metal on terrestrial television in the UK. We had a show originally called the Power Hour, that changed to Raw Power that morphed into something like Noisy Mothers or similar. Because us metal heads are nocturnal, they showed this show about 3am on a Saturday Morning. This was before modern technology let you set things up in advance with series links or anything spectacular like that. No, in my youth, I had to set my VHS video recorder to record the show on tape.  It was worth it. In addition to falling in love with the presenter, Nikki Groocock, I later saw a music video that led me to fall in love with New Jersey’s finest.

‘Negasonic Teenage Warhead’ was the song and Retrospective #3 is Monster Magnet.

Album Retrospective – Monster Magnet.

Before we start on the full album retrospective, I need to advise that I think Dave Wyndorf epitomise a Metal God. Skinny as a rake, long hair, shades and seriously charismatic. Dave Wyndorf is ultra-cool. He also shares the same birthday as me, which obviously makes me every bit as awesome as Dave.

Spine of God was the first full album released by Monster Magnet. It was released in 1991 in Europe, and 1992 in the USA. Deemed a ‘classic’ by many, to me it is an album where Wyndorf was finding himself and the sound of the band. Deeply rooted with a 70’s psychedelic vibe, it was a precursor to the ‘Stoner Rock’ tag that would follow the band to this day. It has sprinklings of prog about it and it is a very enjoyable listen if you can get by the particularly ropey production. The importance of this album, however, should not be understated, as it is one of the earliest examples of Stoner rock. The importance of the album is all well and good, but many look at it with rose tinted glasses and fail to acknowledge that it is average at best. 5/10

Although not rating highly with me, Monster Magnet’s debut album secured a deal with A&M Records, where Wyndorf’s creativity spiralled magnificently.  Superjudge was their 2nd album and it was a level above their debut. This was not reflected in the sales it should have made. You see, Superjudge was released in 1993. This was the time of Grunge. People were buying albums by the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden in this period. How was a Stoner Rock band ever going to stand out? The genre was not cool enough to become mainstream, and so it remained underground with bands like the mighty Kyusscarrying the Stoner torch alongside Monster Magnet. It is with Superjudge that Monster Magnet subtly moved away from the overt psychedelia of their debut and began to stretch their wings. 7/10

In 1995, Monster Magnet hit the big time…. Well, for me they did as this was the year I heard ‘Negasonic Teenage Warhead’ for the first time. Interestingly, it is more akin to their debut, with its psychedelic leanings, but make no mistakes. This is a rocker. This is Wyndorf exercising his inner Rock God, standing astride the Stoner genre like a colossus. The album, ‘Dopes to Infinity’ is riddled with great tracks, with ‘King of Mars’and ‘Dead Christmas’ being stand-outs – the latter often getting airplay in my house on or around Christmas day. Although this is their best album so far, people are still buying later era Grunge albums as well as listening to music from a new genre that was in its infancy ‘Nu-Metal’. Fortunately, Monster Magnet prevailed and we were in for a Stoner classic! 9/10

1998 saw me buy my first Monster Magnet CD. Powertrip was their 4th album and it was absolutely stunning. No longer were the band stifled by other genres of metal. Wyndorf had released perfection.  I remember hearing a song called ‘Bummer’ on a compilation CD, potentially from Kerrang! or Metal Hammer, and it utterly ripped me apart from the inside out. It was ‘Negasonic Teenage Warhead’ plus infinity. I bought the CD on the day of release and played it constantly, much to the annoyance of a few of my University friends. The singles were also superb, true genre classics, ‘Space Lord’is still awe inspiring. I then got to see the band for the first time at Metallica’s ‘Big Day Out’ festival at Milton Keynes Bowl in the UK. This gig demonstrated the fact that Wyndorf is a Rock God, setting fire to his guitar, refusing to leave the stage. This is when I truly fell in love with Monster Magnet. Alas, it was not to last. 10/10

God Says No was released in 2000, and I greedily snapped it up, perhaps unfairly, expecting a similar experience that their previous album gave me. The potential was there, there are BIG tunes on there! ‘Doomsday’ and ‘Heads Explode’ are particularly good, however over here in the UK, we received 2 bonus tracks, of which ‘Silver Future’ is an absolute stunner. The problem was that the album isn’t as consistent as Powertrip, and so perhaps I have judged it too harshly in the past.  It is an album that should be judged on its own merits, as this improves the listening experience. 7/10

It was the release of Monotholic Baby in 2004, on a new record label, where my interest in the band started to drift. Rooted firmly with a 70’s vibe, the album has 3 cover songs included, of which ‘The Right Stuff’ is worth a listen, as is ‘Monolithic’, however, the album does tend to meander. This is fine if you like a tickle psychedelica in your tunes, but alas, my musical journey was heading in a different direction that that of Dave. Although I own this album, this retrospective was probably the first time I had listened to it in 15 years.  It maybe another 15 before I venture into it again. 5/10

In 2006, Dave Wyndorf overdosed on prescription medication. Speaking to Blabbermouth, Dave said that they were anti-anxiety drugs, intended to help solve sleep issues he had whilst touring. Fortunately, after a spell in hospital, Dave recovered and Monster Magnet was able to continue. I remember this time vividly, reading the stories in Kerrang! and Metal Hammer at the time, just hoping he would be OK.

The musical upshot of this was that 4-Way Diablo, their 7th album, was delayed a year, finally being released in 2007. This is the last Monster Magnet album that I bought and, until very recently, I had not listened to it since that year. A slight improvement on the previous album, it lacks the joy and oomph of the early albums. During my research for this retrospective, I found an interview with Dave, where he says it was recorded in ‘the wrong key’ and that is why songs from this album are never included in their live set-list. I find this a bit strange, surely they could play them live the way that they ‘should’ have been recorded?  Perhaps it is, and I am speculating here, that this album reflects a bad time in Dave’s life and also that it isn’t very good?  6/10

By now, it was obvious to me that my musical tastes, heading towards Death Metal and other forms of Extreme Music was at a tangent to that of Monster Magnet, and although I still adored their earlier albums, I never listened to any of their post 2007 material until a few weeks ago. Part of the reason that I want to write these retrospectives is to try to reconnect with bands that left me behind, or that I had left behind. So, it was with keen interest that I started listening to modern Monster Magnet for the first time.

Mastermind was released in October 2010 on a new record label, Napalm Records. I was gobsmacked when I listened to the opening tracks. My Monster Magnet was back, in a manner of speaking.  The band I had abandoned were back with swagger, still hinting at the 70’s vibes, but with a hard rock exterior that all but ditched the psychedelic overtones. I made a mistake in never listening to it. Tracks like ‘Gods and Punks’, ‘100 Million Miles’ and ‘Dig That Hole’ prove that Dave was back. Mastermind should be noted as being lead guitarist Ed Mundell’s final album with the band, meaning that he left on a High.  8/10

Album number 9 was released in 2013 and, after listening to the previous album for the first time, I was genuinely intrigued to see if Monster Magnet would continue in this new vein, or would they slip back again? In truth, Last Patrol does a bit of both. It is not as strong as the previous album, but it retains a sense of fun, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, which gives it a sense of charm. More of a traditional Stoner Rock album that previously, it goes to show that Dave will never stand still and, love them or loathe them, Monster Magnet will march to the beat of their own drum. 7/10

Mindfucker was released in 2018 and is the final album of this retrospective (remember – no cover albums will be included). It seems now, that Monster Magnet have found their groove. A 70’s influenced Stoner/Hard Rock band. This is a very enjoyable listen, again not quite hitting their highs, there are a handful of ‘fillers’ on here, but the hard hitting tunes prevent it from ever getting close to being a generic album, especially songs like ‘Soul’ and ‘Mindfuck’. Dave Wyndorf is now 64 years old. He still the epitome of a Metal God.  7/10

  • The DevilsHorns must listen – Powertrip
  • Find out more – Check out the original versions of their latest album A Better Dystopia
  • Off the beaten track – Check out Ed Mundell’s band The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic

A Friday Night Wasted

So, tonight is Friday and I found myself at a loose end. So, whilst partaking in a few Brewdog Punk IPA’s, I found myself getting even more confused about building this webpage. There were numerous issues.

Firstly, my Spotify link has failed. I have an evergrowing playlist that contains songs that were stuck in my head. If a song enters my internal radio unbidden, it gets added to the playlist. It is eclectic and I can’t get it embedded properly.

My twitter feed also failed in a similar manner. I am useless. But hey, it’s all fun learning, so I will get it right. The site at the moment is a ‘less is more’ style.

Anyway, the main reason for my post is that the next retrospective is almost upon us. I can reveal I am 2 albums away from finishing the works of New Jersey’s finest

Monster Magnet


A Novice Blogger

So I am now a few months into whatever ‘this’ is and it has become abundantly clear to me that I don’t really have a clue what I am doing, especially with regards to setting up the page the way I think it should look. That’s why it looks a little bit of a mess at the moment. It will, however, improve.

I believe I have a decent basic idea for the blog. I can be very anal with my listening habits and for many years, I have listened to albums by one band/artist in order of the year they were released. So, why not see if anything I listen to sparks a bit of interest in somebody else, even if it is to say that they don’t like it.

That said, I am aware that I need change things slightly. My Devin Townsend Retrospective is too long. At 25 albums, this should have been split into 2 parts to make it more readable. But this is a learning curve for me. Although I have written hundreds of album reviews, I am very much a novice blogger. I have never started a blog from scratch nor have I set up a web page. It is new but it is fun.

I have plans for the blog as well. I want to incorporate others to help, maybe have my friends compile an album retrospective from their point of view. Also, I have an idea that has been in my head since 2016 where I have already sounded out my friend of 40+ years to help. More on this to come, but it will provide more content and be a little more pithy than a full retrospective.

Thanks for reading my thoughts – comments are welcome, as is any advice that can help improve on my Novice Blogger status.

I am The DevilsHorns!

Album Retrospective

Retrospective #2 – Devin Townsend

Devin Townsend burst on to the scene in 1993 providing vocals in Steve Vai’s ‘Sex and Religion’ album. Since then, he has amassed 25 studio albums in a variety of different genres as a solo artist and the leader of various bands.

Album Retrospective – Devin Townsend

Prolific is, perhaps, a word that still lacks the gravitas to describe the recorded output of one Devin Garret Townsend. He has released, on average, an album a year since his debut release in 1995. I first became aware of Devin following his brief stint in my favourite band, The Wildhearts, where he played guitar on tour with them. It was during this tour that he signed with Century Media, ultimately releasing his debut album, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, via Century Media Records, under the name of Strapping Young Lad. Essentially a solo album, with a wee bit of help along the way, it is entirely possible that the world of metal was not ready for this type of ‘extreme metal’. Not fitting into any of the traditional genres, it is a slightly flaky album that only hinted at the awesome SYL would release over the coming years.  6/10

I actually thought I was relatively knowledgeable about Hevy Devy’s output (Hey – check his website I am allowed to call him that). So, when carrying out the retrospective, I was genuinely shocked to learn that he had released a punk album, of sorts. Punky Bruster – Cooked on Phonics was that album, and it goes to show Hevy Devy has a bit of humour about him. Originally release under the band name, Punky Bruster, it is a parody album about a Death Metal band that sells out and releases a Punk album….and it is brilliant fun. I never knew this existed and I would urge you all to go to your streaming platform of choice and fire into it. You will not be disappointed, it is fantastic fun!  8/10

Then there was City, the 2nd SYL album. Hevy (hey I can do this….), by now, had assembled a genuine band, and it showed. City is an absolute beast of an album, truly extreme, unrelenting in the heavy!  It is an album high that Devin would never quite reach again with the SYL output, despite delivering high class albums under the line-up. Songs like, ‘Underneath the Waves’, ‘Detox’ and ‘All Hail the New Flesh’ are the aural equivalent of having a butcher forcibly remove your spleen as you sit and eat a donut. This is a genuine, must listen, album and if you consider yourself a fan of extreme metal, I would imagine this is in your collection. 10/10

Then, Devin through a wee bit of a curve-ball. He followed up a seriously heavy album by creating a new band and releasing the album Biomech.  Originally released under the band name of Ocean Machine, it served notice that Devin was not limited in his song writing ability or stylings. This is a criminally underrated album, featuring tracks that have stood the test of time. ‘Regulator’ regularly forces itself into my head, my internal radio (© Ginger Wildheart) if you will. ‘Bastard’ is also superb.  This is the perfect entry album if you want to listen to non-Hevy Devy. 8/10

Infinity was the first Devin Townsend album I bought and so it holds a special place in my heart. Recorded and released after he was diagnosed as Bi-Polar, it is the first album released under his own name, featuring several great songs, and a few oddities. ‘Wild Colonial Boy’ is one of the odd tracks, an oddness that Devy would seek out in more detail in future albums. This album feels like Devy is beginning to gain confidence in his ability to capture his audience, allowing a certain amount of audacity to be present (check out the song ‘Ants’), knowing that his audience are there with him. 8/10

This, more confident, Devy moved onto his next project, where after a dalliance with Jason Newsted, then of Metallica, was curtailed, allegedly by the control freaks in Metallica, he enlisted the help of his SYL bandmates. Although it was the SYL line-up, Physicist is very much a solo album released, once again, under his own name. It was supposedly meant to be a project featuring Newsted, so it is no surprise that the album has a thrashier feel about it, however the album does have a lack of feeling about it. Where Infinity took the listener on a journey, Physicist seems to have left them at the station, with just the engine pulling away. Perhaps if it had been recorded as intended, it may have had a different feel. 5/10

Terria is an album that almost feels like a bounce-back. Gone is the lack of direction found in Physicist, and welcomed in is another, new, direction by Devy. Again released under his own name, Terria is an album that begins his journey into more poppy ambience territory, whilst still keeping an air of heaviness – the pure ambience would follow soon after. An introspective look into his Canadian homeland, Devy recaptures the territory lost in his Physicist experiment and, as such, it is a recommended listen. 7/10

Part of the joy of being a fan of Devy, is the fact that you never know what is going to happen next. Having released 4 solo albums after the last SYL release, Devy got the SYL boys back in the studio to release the eponymous Strapping Young Lad. However, SYL marked a change in tone from the first 2 albums, become a much more straight-forward sounding metal album, slightly leaning to Death Metal. The production is nowhere near as crisp as the previous albums, it is, without a doubt, the weakest SYL album released.  There was, perhaps, a reason for this….. 6/10

A potential reason for the weak SYL album may have been that, the ever prolific, Devy was hard at work on another album, this time with a new band The Devin Townsend Band as well as embracing a new genre, Progressive Metal. The resultant album, Accelerated Evolution, is nothing short of stunning. Devy breathes live into Accelerated Evolution with apparent ease. Songs like ‘Deadhead’, ‘Suicide’ and ‘Slow me Down’ are stand-outs in an album full of highlights. It is one of my favourite Devy albums. It also appears to be the album he put more effort into in this timespace.  9/10

Remember when I mentioned ‘Ambient’ earlier……. Well, next up is Devlab. This is nearly 66 minutes of my life I will never see again. If you like pure ambience, great.  Fire in and listen to it. Until my retrospective, and like Punky Bruster, I never knew this existed. Unlike Punky Bruster, I still wish I never knew about it.  Avoid! 0/10

So, after a dalliance with ambience, it is only natural that Devy returned to, yes – you’ve guessed it – Strapping Young Lad. What an album it is.  Alien, like previous SYL albums, puts the heavy back into Hevy Devy. It is dark, probably due to the state of mind of the main man himself, but it is also monolithic in its intent. Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, it goes to show how Devy cannot be pigeonholed…. I mean, Ambient to Extreme Metal?  Who does this? 7/10

Alas, the 2nd of the Devin Townsend Band albums, Synchestra, was Devy’s next release.  It was the final album under this band name and it didn’t come close to matching the brilliance of the 1st album. 14 tracks long and coming in at over 65 minutes, Devy appears to have forgotten the ‘off-switch’ on Synchestra and it is, at least, 15 minutes too long. Unusually for Devy, the quality control seems to have gone missing on this one. 6/10

Fortunately, Devy is not a man for standing still, and the Heavy returns with, what is until now, the final SYL album, The New Black. It is a beast! Slightly more melodic than any previous SYL release, it still manages to maintain the manic feel, listen to ‘You Suck’ for proof. Apparently, Century Media put a strict deadline in place for the recording, which if true, probably helped to maintain the quality control that was so missing on Synchestra. If there is not to be a new SYL album, and there is nothing to indicate that Devy will go back to this, then The New Black is a fitting way to end what are the genre of Devy albums that I enjoy the most. 8/10

The Hummer is 73 minutes of Ambient Pish. No Devy, NO!  0/10

In 2007, Hevy Devy introduced the world to Ziltoid, releasing his, fully solo album, Ziltoid the Omniscient.  In order to understand the album, you need to know Ziltoid’s back story, you see, this is a concept album, and it is absolutely fantastic. Ziltoid is an Alien, from the planet Ziltoidia 9 to be accurate, and he loves his coffee. So he travels to Earth in search of the ultimate cup of coffee, only to decide he doesn’t like it. Therefore, in what can only be described as, ‘a slight overreaction’, he orders his plant to attack earth.  With his humour fully on display, Devy provided the perfect comedy album, full of tunes and riffs lesser mortals would die for.  This is Devy at his playful best and it is a must listen. 10/10

After Ziltoid, Devy took a well-earned break to recharge his batteries, and get a haircut, becoming the shiny bonced man we know and love now. After rediscovering himself, he announced the formation of The Devin Townsend Project, with an initial 4 album plan. The first of those was Ki and to be honest, I never really got it. Again, it is very long, well over an hour again, and it contains to many ambient elements for my tastes. Ambience is not a genre I embrace. Although I eagerly snapped the CD up, obtaining a signed copy, it is one I have never really listened to with any great enthusiasm. 5/10

Addicted soon followed, this time with a different band line-up, as the DTP was designed to evolve with each release. It was released in the same year as Ki, but it is streets ahead in energy, resulting in greater enjoyment. Mercifully shorter than its predecessor, Addicted show that the drug and alcohol free Devy, still has the song-writing skills that make him so appealing. 7/10

Devy then released the 3rd and 4th albums from the DTP, namely Deconstruction and Ghost respectively. Of the pair, Ghost is perhaps more accessible, but the more enjoyable listen is the former. A concept album, Deconstruction is more complex than its companion and, as a result, delivers a more intense listening experience. This is not the last time that Devy would provide a dual album release. 8/10 and 7/10

Originally a 4 album plan, Devy then surprised everybody with Epicloud, the 5th DTP album. A pop Metal album, it is a joyful listen, with co-vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen providing a stunning alternative to Devy’s vocals. Also present are Gospel choirs, bringing a sense of grandeur to a very enjoyable album. One very good addition to the album is an improved version of Kingdom, from his Physicist album, demonstrating how weak that particular album was. Epicloud was a very strong release that still sound great today. 8/10

Casualties of Cool was the next Devy project, a standalone album full of country, blues and, unfortunately, ambience. It is different to any previous Devy release, originally released on the, now defunct, Pledge platform. Another album with an underlying concept, Devy has been quoted as saying how much he loves it and how satisfying it is. Alas, I believe it is dull and I personally don’t have the imagination to derive anything from it. This probably says more about me than it does the quality of the album, as I know of many Devy fans who love it. 5/10

In 2009, Devy announce the follow-up to Ziltoid the Omniscient, and it sent quite a few of us into a minor frenzy. Could he pull it off, would it be as quirky and fun?  It would take another 5 years before it would surface, being released they say before my Birthday. I obviously received it as a birthday present, although I had heard it previously for a website I was writing for at the time. Z2 is a double album, with the first album called Sky Blue and the 2nd album being the actual follow-up to ZIltoid, Dark Matters. Again, Devy hits the biggest of Home Runs. Sky Blue is a very enjoyable romp, but it is Dark Matters that impressed me the most. It actually helps to improve your enjoyment of the previous Ziltoid album. It helped to introduce a range of Merchandise, including Ziltoid puppets and Poozers.  Dark Matters on its own is a perfect 10, however Sky Blue just lowers the score for Z2. 9/10

Ziltoid the Omniscient in puppet form

Transcendence was the first album that was not solely produced by Devy and, in truth, does not really comply with the Devin Townsend Project ethos by featuring different musicians for each album. This is no bad thing, as the band members all had input into the album. Almost unheard of in Devy’s output.  The result is a fairly enjoyable, but not outstanding, prog-style album. It has reworkings of a few earlier Devy tracks, including ‘Truth’ from Infinity – a song I didn’t think needed reworking as well as ‘Victim’ from Physicist – a song that benefits from reworking. I find this album slightly disappointing. 7/10

For the final album in this retrospective, Devy put the DTP on hold and released the solo album, Empath. Again, a full-on progressive rock/metal album, Devy throughs caution to the wind, looking to release his one true vision on the masses. This is an album that does not immediately hit home. It is the definition of a slow-burner and then, when it clicks, it is an album of such beauty that you wonder why it took so long to hit home.  It is Devy at his eclectic finest. 9/10

  • The DevilsHorns must listen – City
  • Find out more – Check out the Making of Empath videos on YouTube
  • Off the beaten track – why not check out Ziltoid TV, again found on YouTube
Album Retrospective

Retrospective #1 – Rotting Christ

True Black Metal Legends, Rotting Christ have amassed 13 studio albums and numerous live albums since their humble beginnings in Athens back in 1987.

Back in 2019, at London’s ULU, I turned up with my good friend ‘Evil’ Jim, who is not evil in the slightest, to watch UK Death Metal titans Bolt Thrower decimate an enthusiastic crowd. However, it was the opening band that left me with a lasting impression.  Rotting Christ were that band and they have since become my favourite extreme metal band. So, what better way to introduce The DevilsHorns Blog than by an album retrospective of one of the most influential extreme metal bands of all time?

Album Retrospective – Rotting Christ

Although they formed in 1987, releasing a handful of Demo’s and EP’s, it wasn’t until November 1993 that they released their debut album, Thy Mighty Contract.  The album marked a change in sound from their early origins, more of a grindcore/death metal sound, evolving into a proto-black metal sound that differed from the bands Norwegian Peers. Often criticised for its poor production, it must be taken into account that Black Metal, and particularly Southern Europe Black Metal, was in its infancy. Nobody knew how to record this new genre, and it is fair to say that they didn’t get the best out of Sakis ‘Necromayhem’ Tolis’ vocals. It also didn’t help that the studio they used was sparse, with only room for an electric drum kit, leading to the trade-mark, click-drum, blastbeats used by Themis ’Necrosauron’ Tolis.  It was a promising start. 6/10

Within a year, Rotting Christ, released their 2nd and final album on the Unisound Records label, and it is an absolute beast! Non Serviam is, in my opinion, the definitive 90’s era Rotting Christ album. Translating as ‘I will not serve’, it has become the band motto, with Sakis even sporting a tattoo bearing the slogan. The album has bona-fide classics on there, co-written by Sakis and Jim ‘Mutilator’ Patsouris, with ‘The Fifth Illusion’, Non Serviam and Saturn Unlock Avey’s Son regularly appearing on my playlists. It is this album that allowed the band to take a massive step forward. 9/10

Triarchy of the Lost Lovers is the 3rd album and was the first on a major label, Century Media Records. It also marks another subtle shift in the overall sound of the band, introducing a Gothic influence. Being part of a major label brought a degree of professionalism to the recording, a professionalism that was reflected in the overall album. That said, in the excellent book by Sakis and Dayal Patterson, ‘Non Serviam – The Official Story of Rotting Christ’, Sakis tells of how he got ill with measles early on in the recording process, hindering his vocals. To be fair, you wouldn’t know it from listening to the album and it is, again, a masterclass in the genre.  8/10

Prior to the release of A Dead Poem, the band was hit with a body blow when Mutilator left the band. Like most extreme metal bands, Rotting Christ could not make a living out of the band and so, with a young family, the main lyricist Jim ‘Mutilator’Patsouris bowed out, but not before leaving a few more words for Sakis to put to music. It was, in my opinion, the end of the bands classic era, leading to Rotting Christ becoming an autocracy, with Sakis becoming the leader, with his brother Themis taking a supporting role. The end of an era was compounded by the changing of the Rotting Christ logo, which may or may not have been with the bands permission. According to Tolis and Pattersons book, Sakis was never made aware of it, or didn’t read the memo. That said, A Dead Poem, features one of my favourite songs by the band, ‘A Sorrowful Farewell’ is truly immense and is a must listen for anybody interested in getting to know this band. 6/10

1999 saw the release of Sleep of the Angels, an album where you truly notice the departed Mutilator. Although Sakis had previously contributed lyrics, it wasn’t his primary job. Sleep of the Angels was true Sakis album. Although they had a full band, it was Sakis who contributed the guitars, bass and lyrics. He even had a hand in the drums. It is an album where Sakis is finding his feet, and it shows. Arguably their weakest album, it is also transitional, a learning process that would ultimately lead to far better things. 5/10

Khronos saw the band move back to a slightly more aggressive sound, slightly eschewing the previous gothic tones. The album has a handful tracks that demand repeat listening. ‘Art of Sin’ is one of them, with a compelling riff it dominates the album as well as the opener ‘Thou art Blind’. They also include an excellent cover, ‘Lucifer of London’. A decent listen, it does seem that they are trying just a little too hard on occasions. This should not, however, be treated as a criticism, as it is a step forward from the previous album. 7/10

If Khronos was a step towards the older Rotting Christ sound, Genesis completed the circle. This was compounded by the return of the classic logo, with Century Media and/or the band realising the folly of the so called ‘clean’ logo. Not only was Genesis a return to a ‘heavier’ sound, it also hinted at the future, with ‘Lex Talionis’featuring Gregorian chants. The irony of the biblical album name should not be overlooked, as this was a new beginning for Sakis and Rotting Christ. 8/10

 Sanctus Diavolos holds a special place in my heart. After seeing Rotting Christ for the first time in 2010, this was the first album of theirs that I bought. Truth be told, straight from Sakis’ opening scream in ‘Visions of a Blind Order’, I was transfixed. There is absolutely nothing about this album that I dislike. I would not say it is perfect, but the low points of this album are pretty high. It also has the benefit of having 2 of my favourite Rotting Christ songs, ‘Thy Wings, Thy Horns, Thy Sin’ as well as a song that I believe every metal fan should listen to at least once in their lives, ‘Athanati Este’, arguably the finest song ever written by Sakis. Sanctus Diavolos also marked a major point in the history of Rotting Christ by being their final album for Century Media. 9/10

Season of Mist became the new, and current, home of Rotting Christ. Another Major label, the fact the band signed to another prestigious Metal label goes to show the respect a Black Metal band had gained over the years. Theogonia was the name of their 9th full length studio album, and truth be told, before my restrospective, it had passed me by. I never really gave the album a chance on the few listens I gave it. I don’t own it, so it never really entered my playlist, a scenario that is particularly disappointing. It is a particularly enjoyable listen, and you realise how much Sakis has grown into the role of being Rotting Christ. 8/10

2010 saw the release of Aealo, the album that was released just prior to me seeing them live for the first time. Unfortunately, despite having a few tracks that almost hit home, it doesn’t light a fire between my very heavy metal loins. ‘Fire, Death and Fear’ is a decent enough song and ‘Nemtheanga’ from Irish legends ‘Primordial’, lends his considerable talents to ‘Thou art Lord’. Overall, Aealo is slightly disappointing. 5/10

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Sakis Tolis and Rotting Christ is their most recent output. I had the pleasure of reviewing Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού, an album I gave 4 ½ stars out of 5.  Originally thought to be name after the Aleister Crowley quote,’ Do what thou wilt’, Sakis has since sought to clarify the meaning, according to Wikipedia, as ‘True to Your own Spirit’. To my ears, we have now entered the true sound of Rotting Christ. A sound that elevates the band from being a Black Metal band into being one of the only true Heavy Metal Bands in existence. This is the album that gives Rotting Christ the credit they deserve. It is an album that has not aged, an album that is still fresh and an album that brought the band to the mainstream listener who never considered listening to a ‘satanic’ band. Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού is nothing short of outstanding. 10/10

At the time of writing, Rituals is the penultimate Rotting Christ album. Perhaps not up to the standards of their previous opus, it is still an outstanding slab of metal. Described as Sakis most personal material to date, the album features many different languages and influences. It encapsulates the listener and provides a continuum to the previous album. I believe that it is not as good as Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού, but I know many people who think this is better. I’d suggest listening to both, then buying them both. What Rituals does provide, is evidence of the song-writing prowess of Sakis, a man who has gained experience, album by album, finally stepping out of Mutilator’s shadow, ultimately exceeding the early Rotting Christ output.

In 2019, Rotting Christ unleashed the utterly compelling The Heretics, a mesmeric album full of quotes, riffs and superbly delivered material. The Heretics is a culmination of every Rotting Christ album that precedes it. Blastbeats, riffs, imagery, atmosphere, choral chanting, it has it all. There are too many songs to mention, as each song brings its own juice to the album, be it ‘Heaven, Hell and Fire’or the Edgar Allan Poe influenced ‘The Raven’. This is, simply put, a stunning album. It does not matter if you love the early Black Metal band, or the mid years gothic tinged, through to the melodic band we know now, The Heretics is just about perfect. 10/10

  • The DevilsHorns must listen – Non Serviam
  • Find out more – Book, Non Serviam – The Official Story of Rotting Christ by Sakis Tolis and Dayal Patterson
  • Off the beaten track – buy Under our Black Cult the definitive early years compilation featuring early Demo’s, EP’s and Live albums.