|Genres||Melodic black metal
|Labels||Osmose Productions (1991−1993)
Century Media Records
Season of Mist
Thou Art Lord
ROTTING CHRIST was formed in 1987 with the original line-up Sakis (vocals, guitar), Jim (bass), Themis (drums) incorporating a roaring mixture of death metal and grind (a style that was at its height in the rest of the world at that time except, of course, Greece). Early on ROTTING CHRIST produced two informal recordings (“Decline’s Return” and ‘Leprosy Of Death”) which basically consist of rehearsals and are not considered official by the band.
Let it be noted that ROTTING CHRIST were particularly young (around 16 years old). In 1988 the band recorded their first split 7” EP with Yhorypansi (aka Sound Pollution) which includes 9 of their songs! Naturally the style is grindcore as is the lyrical side (for example “Asthmatic Apoplexy”, “Myxomycetes Attack”, “Thyrotoxicosis”, “Artificial Hypertrophy”).
This particular year, the band decided to dedicate itself solely to black/death metal following the footsteps of Bathory, Venom, Possessed and Celtic Frost. So, in 1989 they circulated their first official demo, the notorious 5-track “Satanas Tedeum”. The result was incredibly dark and violent black metal, which the band themselves characterized as “Abyssic Death Metal”. This is only because the term black metal was not yet established in the underground and death and black metal were more or less interchangeable in those days. This demo did its rounds in the underground and gave the band a very good name, establishing ROTTING CHRIST as one of the originators of the second wave of black metal. In the piece “Feast Of The Grand Whore” one can hear keyboards that were unique for that era and for death metal.
In the beginning of the 90’s the members of ROTTING CHRIST (which were now using pseudonyms such as Necromayhem (Sakis), Mutilator (Jim), Necrosauron or Sauron (Themis), typical for that era) fully dedicated themselves to the band. Greek label Decapitated Records (later known as Unisound Records) circulated their first mini-LP, the legendary “Passage To Arcturo” originally on vinyl. Magus Wampyr Daoloth from NECROMANTIA was added on keyboards. The result was 6 masterfully played black/death tracks. Here we begin to see the elements that will characterize ROTTING CHRIST’s personal style in the years to come as well as that occult spirit which is reminiscent of their first recordings. Decapitated Records will circulate “Passage To Arcturo” initially on vinyl with a gatefold cover in cooperation with the Greek label Wipe Out Records. The band has not performed live up till now with the exception of gathering some friends to watch them practice in the studio. In the underground circles they are already considered a “cult” and “true” band to use the terms of the underground. In synch with 1991’s “Passage To Arcturo”, Decapitated Records is releasing the 7” EP “Dawn Of Iconoclast” with 2 tracks, which the band had characterized as “disappointing concerning the production and generally a very rushed job”.
Also in 1991, ROTTING CHRIST released their following split 7” EP with Italian band MONUMENTUM. The band plays a new version of “Feast Of The Grand Whore” from the “Satanas Tedeum” demo. In 1992 they record their second official demo “Ade’s Winds” with two tracks, “Fgmenth, Thy Gift” and “The Fourth Knight Of Revelation Parts 1 & 2). Although “Ade’s Winds” was available for sale through the band, it also functioned as a promo tape, which was sent to various metal labels. The new and upcoming independent label Osmose Productions signed ROTTING CHRIST under the condition that they release their first full-length album with them. The truth is that the band was in contact with Euronymous of the legendary MAYHEM and he intended to release an album with ROTTING CHRIST or a split LP with BURZUM through his personal label, Deathlike Silence Productions. This was not final but it gives an example of ROTTING CHRIST’s status since Euronymous was particularly eclectic and he had waged unrelenting war against bands who weren’t true to the values of black/death metal.
Legendary debut “Thy Mighty Contract” was released in 1993. This is a classic black metal album, which defined the so-called “Greek sound of black metal” and established the band as one of the most worthy on a worldwide level. The band took part in the first ever black metal tour, the notorious Fuck Christ Tour including IMMORTAL and BLASPHEMY (having released “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” and “Gods Of War” respectively). Naturally the tour went down in history due to events such as people cutting their veins and being taken away in ambulances! The Fuck Christ Tour was rather successful in gaining recognition for the band, seeing as they even played in Israel apart from the European countries they toured. This, however does not mean that there weren’t problems. “That tour was a Waterloo for us. The worst thing we could have done then. I had just finished the army and we took two session musicians on guitars and keys who got nothing to do with the band. We had no live experience; we didn’t have anything in common with the other two bands… It was a bad experience but “what doesn’t kill you makes you strong”.”, says Jim Mutilator in 1996.
The same year Osmose released the two track 7” EP “Apokathelosis” that includes a remake of “The Mystical Meeting” taken from “Passage To Arcturo” and the new “Visions Of The Dead Lovers”. ROTTING CHRIST gives a live show on Greek soil in April of 1993, playing 5 tracks in the legendary concert together with ANCIENT RITES and DEVISER at Agathi Club, Athens. Decapitated Records releases “Passage To Arcturo” in CD format including two bonus live tracks, “The Forest Of N’Gai” and “Feast Of The Grand Whore” taken for the aforementioned concert with ANCIENT RITES and DEVISER. The band also opened for SAMAEL in their one and only so far live show in Greece at Next club together with the Greek band NERGAL. Despite the bad sound, ROTTING CHRIST performed an incredible show. As Greek Metal Hammer wrote: “ROTTING CHRIST, with a set lasting 30 minutes managed to enthuse the public as always eliciting endless amounts of applause and cheers. They basically played new pieces from “Thy Mighty Contract” such as “The Sign Of Evil Existence”, “Transform All Suffering Into Plagues”, “Fgmenth, Thy Gift”, “Exiled Archangels”, the recent “Visions Of The Dead Lovers” and older ones like “The Forest Of N’ Gai”. Undoubtedly ROTTING CHRIST gave a remarkable show and managed to attract the crowd’s interest”.
Meanwhile, the English magazine Kerrang! unjustly blasphemed ROTTING CHRIST writing that they were involved with the satanic / right wing organization Inner Circle, known from the events in Norway in the early 90’s. “I don’t have a clue how our name got mixed up in this. Let me answer differently. ROTING CHRIST plays music and we want our fans to listen to us for our music, not for what we say or what we do” says Jim Mutilator in an interview from that time. Sakis made similar statements in 1997 to the Greek magazine Metal Invader and denied involvement once and for all.
As time passed the band had a falling out with Osmose Productions resulting in each complaining of the other. The collaboration dissolved at this point under a particularly heavy climate with ROTTING CHRIST blaming the company for not satisfying the band’s needs while Osmose claimed that the group lacked professionalism. The war of words continued as the years passed however Osmose decided to never re-release anything that had to do with ROTTING CHRIST. In the following months the band decided to sign on with Unisound which made the best offer yet. “Non Serviam” was released at the end of 1994. This is an album which is definitely worth its weight in gold with classic compositions like “Non Serviam” (that eventually became a concert must and which the band continues to close their live shows with), “Saturn Unlock Avey’s Son” “The Fifth Illusion”, “Wolfera The Chacal (Neoplasia)” etc. The album has a characteristic sound of the Storm studio (which was essentially the band’s private studio) that marked the whole Greek scene. The minimal promotion abroad cost their fans the chance to hear this album. Actually, many people believed that ROTTING CHRIST had broken up after “Thy Mighty Contract” since they never heard or saw “Non Serviam”. For the record, the album was released on CD, LP, picture LP and cassette. Sakis’ Necromayhem initiative led the band to Mexico in April of 1995 performing 2 live shows in front of over 2000 people. The bootleg video that exists indicates the incredible devotion and dedication of their fans. Rumors of the band appearing live in Greece were never realized. In Greek Metal Hammer’s “Best 100 Heavy Metal Albums” exclusive where readers were asked to vote for their favorites, “Non Serviam” came in 59th! “Thy Mighty Contract” was also placed in the top 200 in the same issue. After “Non Serviam” MWD left the band because he felt that ROTTING CHRIST’s style didn’t represent him anymore. Bewildered with their relationship with Unisound, ROTTING CHRIST recorded some new tracks and personally delivered the cassette to the German offices of Century Media and Nuclear Blast labels. Soon after they Century Media offered a 6-album deal. The band also had offers from other independent metal labels such as Avantgarde, Necropolis, Misanthropy etc. ROTTING CHRIST finally chooses Century Media and signs. December of 1995, the Greek Metal Hammer circulates its first compilation CD “Hammer Holocaust”. The first track is a “Snowing Still” demo version in which Shadow from Wampyre Shadow Wolf provides the vocals (he is none other than George Florakis, editor of Metal Hammer). Their inclusion on this compilation gave them even more publicity in the Greek scene and gives a taste of how the new material sounds. Something similar had occurred with the release of “Non Serviam” when Metal hammer had included a cassette sampler from Unisound bands, “Into The Catachthonium” (where one can hear “Saturn Unlock Avey’s Son” track).
In April of 1996, their new album “Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers” is released. Recorded for the first time abroad and with drums played by Themis Sauron, unlike with “Thy Mighty Contract”, and “Non Serviam” albums where a drum machine was used. Andy Classen of Holy Moses produced the album. ROTTING CHRIST somewhat distanced themselves from the black metal sound that the 2 prior albums possessed and turned to more classic heavy metal-oriented style without losing the aggression. Again the album contains classic compositions like the opening track “King Of A Stellar War” and “Dynasty From The Ice”, “Archon”, “Shadows Follow”. During the recordings Sakis and Themis were infected with a childhood disease, the measles and this somewhat complicated their work. Their fame grew even more with their 2 month European tour together with brotherhood bands and labelmates, SAMAEL and MOONSPELL. They played in 14 countries (Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany in the Out Of The Dark Festival with THEATRE OF TRAGEDY and GOREFEST, Belgium, Holland in a festival with AMORPHIS and THERION, Czech Republic, Poland in a festival with IMMOLATION and CANNIBAL CORPSE, Denmark, Finland and Norway in the “Hell On Earth” festival. The tour was a great success. Unfortunately, the only member on tour from the band was Sakis. The rest of the members were session musicians since Jim Mutilator and Themis were unable to fulfill their obligations due to personal problems. On the second guitar was Kostas (ex Corruption member) and who eventually became a permanent member of ROTTING CHRIST. The album does very well in Greece and abroad and a bit later, a limited edition digipack with 3 bonus tracks is released. The bonus tracks are well-known covers of KREATOR’s “Tormentor” and the medley “Pleasure To Kill / Flag Of Hate” in which Mille Petrozza was supposed to participate as a guest vocalist as was originally planned. Mille found the covers extremely interesting and right he was, since they truly are! Meanwhile, Century Media released the picture 10” “The Mystical Meeting” which was a 500 copies limited edition and includes these covers. Jim leaves the band due to personal reasons as his family and professional obligations were overwhelming (he had already opened the well-known Metal Era record shop in the center of Athens) and he could not follow the band’s heavy schedule. Century Media is purely a demanding and professional company and expected the band to be 100% dedicated, something that was impossible for him to do. His departure was under friendly conditions and naturally had nothing to do with the idiotic rumors that were spread such as his inability to play bass. Sakis continued writing new songs and finding new members to join ROTTING CHRIST.
We’ve come to the summer of 1997 and ROTTING CHRIST are preparing to take part in the Rockwave festival at the Apollon Stadium in Rizoupoli, Athens along with MEGADETH, BRUCE DICKINSON, GRIP INC. and DARK NOVAN. Three years after their appearance at Next with SAMAEL they play once again in front of their Greek fans, receiving an enthusiastic response to their 6 songs. Half the songs were from the forthcoming “A Dead Poem” album (it came out August 1997). Despite the fact that the audience was not familiar with the new songs, they were very well received. The only complaint was the band sound conditions, which was not exclusively the band’s fault. “A Dead Poem” provokes quite a bit of emotion due to the new sound that the band had developed. They distanced themselves even further from their black metal past and incorporated catchy heavy riffs, mid-tempo rhythms and atmospheric parts. On keys was XY from SAMAEL and the album was recorded at Woodhouse Studios, produced also by XY himself. The album includes 2 tracks that become in a certain sense “hits” both in Greece and abroad. These are none other that “A Sorrowful Farewell” and “Among Two Storms”. On the second track, Fernando Ribeiro from MOONSPELL participates in the refrain. Up till now, “A Dead Poem” remains ROTTING CHRIST’s most commercial album (in respect to the numbers sold and the quality of the sound). In Greece alone it has sold over 6000 copies! At this point the band also becomes known in a circle that is unrelated to black and death metal. In addition the old logo is no longer used and is replaced by a gothic font and this provokes a chaotic response from some old die-hard fans who believe that the band has forgotten its roots and its black metal past. Also the pseudonyms are history since the band decided not to use them anymore because they didn’t fit with the new direction. In September 1997 the band appears at the Open Air Festival at OAKA which was organized by Metal Invader magazine. This was a historic day for ROTTING CHRIST as they played with VENOM, the band that urged them to pursue music in the first place. In addition, EMPEROR, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, VIRGIN STEELE and DEVISER took part. Here they played a good set and dedicated “Shadows Follow” to Jim Mutilator.
Next comes a headline European tour with support bands OLD MAN’S CHILD and SACRAMENTUM. The band had the chance to play in 12 countries, mostly for black metal audience both in small and big venues. The London gig had a great response, which is very important indeed, taking into consideration the fact that the English market is somewhat peculiar. After 25 days of touring the band returns in its homeland, Greece for a week in order to rest for the upcoming mini-tour in Turkey. They give 3 live shows (2 of them in Constantinople and 1 in Ankara) while the only foreign band that had ever given a concert in Turkey was THERAPY?.To be more precise, Therapy only appeared in Constantinople and not Ankara. “Music has no borders and we took a risk playing there, as we have done in the past, playing in countries such as Israel and Mexico” says Sakis in one of his interviews around 1997. A rather extreme incident happened during their visit in Turkey: members of the extreme right wing Turkish organization “Grey Wolves” were waiting the arrival of the band at a record shop that an autograph session would take place, with intention to attack them. Fortunately, the police authorities managed to block the aforementioned persons, hours before ROTTING CHRIST visited the specific shop.
The 3 Turkish dates were of great importance for the band since over 1000 persons attended each show, almost glorifying ROTTING CHRIST. Next came another European tour with TIAMAT for 20 more days. In October, ROTTING CHRIST gives a historical show to Athens famous Rodon Club, being the first Greek metal band to appear live as a headliner in the specific venue. Support bands were the Greeks ORDER OF THE EBON HAND and EXHUMATION. The next step of the band was to compose a new album. It was finally released in January 1998, entitled “Sleep Of The Angels”. Keyboardist Panayotis leaves ROTTING CHRIST and new member George replaced him. “Sleep Of The Angels” is a step forward for the band that has added many gothic elements but it still remains a metal album from the first to the last second. Two weeks prior the release of the full-length album, the “Der Perfecte Traum” 7-track single was released. It includes the self-titled track taken from the forthcoming “Sleep Of The Angels” album, “Moonlight”, an unreleased track that is not available in any other album and 5 live tracks (marked by the bad sound though) recorded in Poland during 1996’s European tour with SAMAEL and MOONSPELL. This release is very well received by the fans especially in Germany. It is the first ROTTING CHRIST song to have lyrics in other language than English (except some older tracks which had latin lyrics), moreover the initial thought was the German parts to be sung by Till Lindemann, RAMMSTEIN vocalist!
The fans’ reactions are once again overwhelming and ROTTING CHRIST’s audience is broadened. Some older fans still complain about the fact that the band keeps composing music much different from its early material, but one can hear some elements of their black metal past in tracks like “The World Made End” or “Delusions”. “Sleep Of The Angels” remains a stunning album which leads the band to its first world tour ever. First comes a massive European tour with DEICIDE, ANCIENT RITES, AETERNUS and BEHEMOTH. Then ROTTING CHRIST travels to the USA for a multi-city tour. The band toured in a small personal van while Themis and Kostas drove without even having a driver’s license! The band moves on to conquer other countries of Latin America like Colombia and Brazil, where their die-hard fans show their extreme dedication in every single show they make. In Mexico, a 6,8 R earthquake leads to Themis getting injured but fortunately not seriously and leaves the whole band shocked. Afterwards, ROTTING CHRIST returns to Greece to end the tour with a very successful show at Rodon Club (characterized by a crystal clear sound) and a small tour in the Greek country. In this specific Rodon club show, old friend of the band from the early 90’s Gunther Theys (bassist/vocalist of ANCIENT RITES) participates in the refrain of “The Sign Of Evil Existence”. Actually the same live concert was attended by the well-known Greek dark artist Vasilis Arnaoutoglou, who, impressed by the sound and feeling of the band, proposed Sakis to make a video-clip for one of their tracks. The result of their collaboration was the first ever -and only so far- “After Dark I feel” video clip. It is a very unique video, which doesn’t show the band typically playing on stage, but it reflects paradox and dark images for the visual representation of the track.
The summer of 2000 marks the release of the new “Khronos” album. Already before its circulation, the band lets it be known that the forthcoming opus is a very deep album with intense black metal feeling and partly returns to the old feeling. Old member Magus Wampyr Daoloth was supposed to participate in vocals in some track but it finally never happened due to various technical problems with the latter’s heavy business program. Indeed, “Khronos” includes pure black metal tracks like “Thou Art Blind”, “Aeternatus”, “Glory Of Sadness” and in general, the album transcends a black feeling that was more or less absent in “Sleep Of The Angels” and “A dead” albums. Recordings took place in the Abyss Studio with Sakis producing the album, in collaboration with Peter Tagtgren from HYPOCRISY. For the record, the initial album title was “Chronos 666”. This full-length includes for the first time in the band’s history a cover tune which is no other the than classic CURRENT ‘93 (a dark wave band) track “Lucifer Over London”. ROTTING CHRIST transformed “Lucifer Over London” into a very dark and heavy metal tune, marked by the band’s personal touch. Actually, CURRENT ’93 singer David Tibet phoned Sakis to personally express his gratitude and admiration for their effort. “Khronos” cover artwork (created by Spyros “Seth” from Septic Flesh) is basically a visual image of the band’s name, depicting the crucified Jesus Christ in high-level decomposition. A headline European tour follows together with support acts VINTERSORG, MADDER MORTEM and TRISTANIA, as well as many concerts in various other countries. The tour ends once again with a sold out live concert at Rodon and a mini-tour in the rest of the country.
In July 2001 they took part in Rockwave festival, Athens for the second time in their history, playing with bands like JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH, SAVATAGE, CRADLE OF FILTH and LESS THAN HUMAN. The specific show was tremendously good with Sakis’ phenomenal scenic presence although the sound quality could have been better. The next year and a half the band retreated from the public eye dedicating themselves to creating its seventh studio album. The only exception was the one-off concert as very special guests in MY DYING BRIDE’s gig in London, April 27th 2002. In the meantime, ROTTING CHRIST they finalize the last details for the forthcoming album, which sees the light of day in late August this year. Recorded in Stage One Studios (like “Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers” album in 1996) with Sakis and Andy Classen being responsible for the production. The album is named after a Greek word, “Genesis” and marks the return of the cult, original old-ROTTING CHRIST logo! The music is reminiscent of the band’s early period in tracks like “Daemons”, “Lex Talionis”, “In Domine Sathana”, “Ad Noctis”, “The Call Of The Aethyrs” but with a modern aesthetic. The outcome is dark and harsh without lacking melody and the classic heavy metal feeling the band incorporated in its music during 1997-1998.
Two years later the band comes up with a new release , the nineth album in their carrer called SANCTUS DIAVOLOS.It is the first time that the production has been exclusively taken care from Guitarist and vocalist of the band SAKIS and the result is the Blackest outcome the band ever made.Fans around the world have realized that ROTTING CHRIST is back in their roots and more refreshed than ever and this can be easilyunderstandable fron the reaction of their world wide tour.There were no show where the fans didn’t headbanging with the listening of the song ATHANATOI ESTE.The use of choirs and really strange melodies as well as the mixing from Fredrik Nordstrom make this album to be called as maybe the best ROTTING CHRIST album ever before the release of their next album THEOGONIA.The album that have received the best reviews in their carrer and accepted from the both fan communities of the band.The old and the new.
Despite of the structural changes, ROTTING CHRIST’s stylistic approach hasn’t drastically changed: The 10 new tracks rather see the band going back to their darker, more savage and faster musical roots and attitude, nevertheless adapting an ancient greek as well as an ethnic presentation by the inclusion of a large choir singing in ancient greek language throughout the album’s material as well as the use of bizarre oriental samples and walls of keyboards.The bands’ goal on never releasing an album that sound exactly with any of their previous has been achieved with that album too and the band can proudly announce that musically another step forward have been achieved.
Lyrically THEOGONIA is based on the primitive greek myth about creation of world (cosmogonia) a myth that come to reality nowadays waking up well hidden dark thoughts that everyone have inside hid and have never exploring THEOGONIA was recorded at SCA Studios in Greece with bandleader Sakis on production and mixing and mastering duties. After a 10 years productive corporation and a mutual broke with Century Media the time has come for the band to change label and to be represented from the French arised label SEASON OF MIST and the release of THEOGONIA made the band to have their most extended world wide tour that contained more than 250 live with the great majority of them as headlines.
Rotting Christ history counts more than 20 years and they decided to celebrate this anniversary with a double DVD + double live CD named NON SERVIAM A 20 YEARS APOCRYPHAL STORY including the more than 2 hours Athenian show plus many detailed and rare extras taken from their apocryphal and glorious journey into the underground Black metal scene. ROTTING CHRIST after 20 years are still alive and more productive and refreshed than ever and with their activity the world can witness the Black Cult is still alive.
- Sakis Tolis – guitar/vocals (1987–present)
- Andreas Lagios – bass (1997–present)
- Themis Tolis – drums (1987–present)
- Giorgos Bokos – guitar (2005–2012)
- Costas Vasilakopoulos – guitar (1996–2004)
- Georgios Tolias – keyboard (1997–2003)
- George “Magus Wampyr Daoloth” Zaharopoulos – keyboard/backing vocals (1992–1994)
- Jim “Mutilator” Patsouris – bass (1989–1996)
- Panayiotis – session keyboard (1997)
• 1991 – Passage to Arcturo (EP)
• 1993 – Thy Mighty Contract
• 1994 – Non Serviam
• 1996 – Triarchy of the Lost Lovers
• 1997 – A Dead Poem
• 1999 – Sleep of the Angels
• 2000 – Khronos
• 2002 – Genesis
• 2004 – Sanctus Diavolos
• 2007 – Theogonia
• 2010 – Aealo