Release date: April 14, 2023.
Jewelcase CD edition with 16 sided booklet.
The fourth century CE is one of the most fascinating in the history of Christianity. Between October 28, 312 and November 8, 392, in just 80 years, this system of religious beliefs went from being an illicit sect to being the only authorized state religion in the Roman Empire. It changed the Roman civilization and all its system of polytheistic religious beliefs.
"Cross. Deny. Glorify." recounts the convulsive birth of this period through the viewpoints of three characters.
Gaius, the father, a simple soldier who was a witness and actor in the battle of the Milvian Bridge near to Rome, but already a follower of critical thinking thanks to his education.
Flavius, the son, itinerant merchant throughout the Mediterranean basin, allowing him to discover other cultures and religious beliefs while offering him a more global perspective of the social phenomenon that are religions.
Marcus, the grandson, a philosopher freely teaching the thought of Epicurus while continuing this family line of critical and rationalist thought increasingly inclined towards atheism.
The resurgence in death metal’s popularity over the past decade has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the sheer number of new and emerging bands means that there have never been more quality releases to relish. On the other hand, there has also never been greater pressure for bands to conform to established genre conventions in order to find an audience. Bands that do not neatly fit into the niche of “old-school”, “brutal”, “technical”, “melodic”, or “dissonant” will frequently fall through the cracks and be ignored by extreme metal’s taste-makers. Through a decade-long career this has so far been the fate of France’s AthanaTheos.
Risen from the ashes of Soul Rejected in 2012, AthanaTheos has to date unleashed two of the most thoughtful, meticulously-crafted and difficult-to-characterize death metal records of recent memory, with 2012’s Alpha Theistic and 2020’s Prophetic Era (Or How Yahveh Became the One). Both albums, as well as the sophomore’s companion EP Eskhatos, manifested a multi-faceted and thoughtful take on death metal that defied trends by synthesizing influences from across the extreme metal spectrum. Traces of influence from the likes of Immolation, Nile, Emperor, Morbid Angel Angel and Greek Black Metal appear as color and texture while the lines, shape and spaces on the canvas are those of a thoroughly unique design.
This approach remains consistent on AthanaTheos’ third album, Cross. Deny. Glorify. - a work of the sort of scope and ambition that speaks to a band confident in its ability to emerge from the gutters of obscurity and reveal itself to a broader audience. Befitting a concept album that follows the paths of three generations of Roman men (a soldier, merchand and philosopher) as they watch their empire decay from within in the wake of Emperor Constantine’s adoption of Christanity as its official religion, every song on Cross. Deny. Glorify. is unique in its character while holding true to a core musical vision that binds the entire record. From the militaristic chug that opens “The Cross,” to the nimble melodic counterpoint of “You Were Not,” to the pensive and melancholic doom-paced climax of “The Silent Oblivion,” to the crumbling sprawl of closer “To Glorify,” this record manages to conjure grandeur and ruin with fervor and earnestness that’s rare and refreshing in the modern extreme metal scene.
Conceptualized and meticulously assembled and refined over a period of two decades (the ideas from which the record germinated date back to 2001), it’s unsurprising that Cross. Deny. Glorify. defies the zeitgeist the way it does. The mentality that undergirds this record is the same one that allowed death metal to evolve and thrive in the exile of absolute ostracism by the mainstream:
No trends, no compromise, only pure vision.
Samuel Girard: extreme vocals and clean choirs, guitars
Nils Delhaye-Boloh: bass
Antoine Poisson: session drums
Kiato Luu: solos on tracks 3, 4, 9
Marvin Monternault: guitars on track 5, solo on track 6
Aurélien Guerriau: guitars on track 8
Artwork cover: painting “The Battle of the Milvian Bridge” by Giulio Romano (1524).