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Rotting Flesh – Ancient Hymns

Rotting Flesh
Ancient Hymns
by Thomas Kumke at 04 September 2022, 1:53 PM

ROTTING FLESH hailing from Thessaloniki, Greece were founded in 1992. They are an atmospheric Black and Death Metal band and released six demos and “Ancient Hymns” is their 4th full-length album. It has a length of about 40 minutes and was released via Romanian label Sleazy Rider Records which is specialized in Death, Heavy, and Gothic Metal. As ROTTING FLESH celebrates their 30th anniversary, their discography is sparse. All six demos were released during the first 10 years of the band history, with their debut album “Dreaming…The Underworld” coming out in 2003. Since then, album releases happened about every five to six years with the last album “Infected Purity” being released in 2014. The reasons might be manifold, however, a lot of changes in the line-up surely did not help to achieve consistency. Even more important is the release of “Ancient Hymns” as it helps re-establishing the band in the Greek Metal scene.

The album starts with “Awaiting”, which is a dark, atmospheric orchestral intro with a slow build-up and transitioning into the title song. “Ancient Hymns” is a mid-tempo song with catchy riffing and a lot of melodeath vibes. The growling vocals are a mainly towards the higher end of the guttural range, with occasional low growls included. The melodies are epic and partially melancholic where the lead guitar contributions leading the charge. Some of the melodies are inspired by some of the early 90s Doom/Gothic Metal bands. “Haunted By The Guilts” starts with a short instrumental and acoustic pre-lude, which gives the melodic framework of the song. The guitars take over with powerful riffing at a measured tempo. The atmosphere remains chilling, however, “Haunted By The Guilts” is much heavier than the opener in terms of the guitar sound and the aggression level of the vocals. The track finishes with the acoustic melodies from the start. “Haunted By The Guilts” is the official video release with the YouTube link given below.

Black Heresy” keeps the gloomy momentum going, but with more aggression and with more Death Metal vibes, most notably by the deep growls at the beginning of the track. After the measured start, the track switches between mid-tempo, slow tempo, and it includes a blast-beat attack at insane pace. The drumming includes a lot of double-bass drumming. “Black Heresy” is a track that crosses multiple boundaries and is Death, Doom, and Black Metal inspired. “Dominate Your Flesh” starts with aggressive guitar riffing and the deep growls are joining in. The song switches rhythm frequently, but it is a mid-tempo track at its base. The guitars and the crunching bass lines are driving the track forward. “Dominate Your Flesh” is one of the least atmospheric and one of the most direct and aggressive tracks on the album.

Time Has Ended” starts with an acoustic guitar and develops, together with the lead guitar, a melancholic melody at the start. It does not take long until powerful guitar riffs accompanied by strong bass lines and the deep growls take over. The track is played at a slow tempo and maintains the melancholic atmosphere during the middle part of the track. There is a short mid-tempo break halfway through the song, which transitions back to the initial melodic framework. “Death United” starts with a huge riff and the powerful sound with the deep growling continue. During this part of the album, the tempo and rhythm is constantly slow with a few mid-tempo or up-tempo outbursts. “Death United” comes with such an outburst, which is unexpectedly introduced with a Rob Halford inspired clean highly pitched scream.

Rot With Us” is a mid-tempo track with tight riffing, a lot of double-bass drumming, and the growls cover the whole range from deep lying to higher pitched growls. “Rot With Us” includes a fast break, making the song to one of the fastest tracks on the album. Speaking about pace, ROTTING FLESH left the fast parts of their album for the end. “Skullgrinder” is not only a fast track with Thrash Metal inspired riffing, but it is also with about 40 seconds by far the shortest track of the album. It was a little bit of an unexpected finale.

The 4th album of ROTTING FLESH is a good one. “Ancient Hymns” includes a lot of style elements ranging from Death Metal and atmospheric Black Metal to Doom Metal. Darkness and a doom-laden atmosphere are in the focus of most songs, but there are also a few more direct and aggressive songs. A smart songwriting and an excellent vocalist allow that crossing of the style boundaries sound seamless and natural. This makes the sound of ROTTING FLESH unique. The album is well produced. “Ancient Hymns” is arguably the best release by ROTTING FLESH so far and fans will like what they hear on the album.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Awaiting
2. Ancient Hymns
3. Haunted By The Guilts
4. Black Heresy
5. Dominate Your Flesh
6. Time Has Ended
7. Death United
8. Rot With Us
9. Skullgrinder
Blackmass – Vocals, Guitars
Vincer – Guitars
Pavlos Papatheodorou – Drums
Necronug – Bass
Record Label: Sleazy Rider Records


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