In the early 1990s Rotting Christ were one of the first Greek black metal bands. Their debut album Thy Mighty Contract from 1993 is awesome. And I was fortunate enough to see them live on the legendary Fuck Christ tour with Blasphemy and Immortal, where they promoted that album. There actually is a low quality video on youtube of that gig here in Kiehool, Bergum. Its successor Non Serviam was a very decent album, but never really touched the debut. And I haven’t really been following them ever since they released their third album Triarchy of the Lost Lovers in 1996 as they went into a more gothic metal direction or whatever style it is these days. Although I ran into a couple of their gigs and they keep playing some songs of the debut. But now, they announced they would do a couple of gigs playing only old material from the first couple of albums and demos. One of those gigs was at the Veneration of the Dead festival at the Baroeg in Rotterdam. I nevertheless skipped most of the festival, as I’m not that keen on black metal and knew only very few bands on the bill. In fact, Rotting Christ was the only band I was really interested in.
When I entered the venue early Sunday afternoon, the Dutch band Cirith Gorgor had just started playing. Basically fast black metal with lots of blast beats and screechy vocals. And of course silly corpse paint galore. It quickly bored me.
Second band I saw was the Czech Inferno. I had never heard of them, but they seem to have quite a number of albums already. They were dressed in black capes, and the guitarist covered their faces with black handkerchiefs, bandit style in combination with some more corpse paint. I guess their stage presence was meant to create some seance like atmosphere or so – but it didn’t work for me. In essence this was more fast black metal with more blasting, except for one song, that they announced as some 20 year old song. I didn’t recognise it, maybe it was a cover. But it was slower, and more traditional black metal. Otherwise it was pretty boring.
Then the venue started filling up, as the stage was prepared for Rotting Christ. After the intro, they started of with a couple of newer songs, of which the first was terrible, the second was decent. Then Sakis announced that from then on they would only play older stuff as per the announcement. And yes old stuff is what we got, starting off with The Old Coffin Spirit of Passage to Arcturo EP and The Forest of N’Gai. Great. Then to the Thy Mighty Contract album with no less than 4 songs, starting of with the brilliant, short but fast The Sign of Evil Existence. Exiled Archangel sounded a bit sloppy, but the other songs were great. Then some even older songs, from the Satanas Tedeum demo, Feast of the Grand Whore, which has a brilliant live rendition on the aforementioned EP where the vocals turn all hysteric in the end. Well Sakis vocals are way more controlled these days and a lot lower. And they seem to play it a bit slower as well. Triarchy of the Lost Lovers was touched with two songs, the mandatory King of Stellar War and Archon. The Thou Art Lord cover was quite forgettable, actually. But, it was quickly followed by Visions of Dead Lovers, for which I don’t really understand why it doesn’t appear on any of the albums originally as it is a great song. And then a the last song of Thy Might Contract followed, The Fourth Knight of Revelation. And that was it for the main set. They came back for one more song, namely the title track of the second album, Non Serviam, which they still play live often enough. Surprisingly few songs off that album, especially as they sometimes also play The Fifth Illusion. Anyway a really good gig by a band that clearly had its creative peak on their debut album. An album that has definitely stand the test of time. It wasn’t as kvlt as the 1993 show, but quite interesting nevertheless.