Its an honour and a privilege for me to have carried out this interview with a band that I have been listening to for many years. Rotting Christ has been the front face of Greek Black metal. They have had their shares of controversies over the years but they have kept the true spirit of their music alive. I am interacting with Sakis Tolis, the front man and the main composer for Rotting Christ. Excerpts from the interview-
MJM. I am delighted to know that you have taken some time off to do this interview. Thank you so much!
Sakis: My charge to chat and give my last minute to the magazines and people that keep the true spirit metal alive.
MJM. The new album ‘Rituals’ has been very well received by both the audiences and the critics, evolving and producing a very atmospheric feel and showing traces of ‘Theogenia’. How does it all go back when you started this album?
Sakis: An album cannot be liked by everyone but I am really honoured that our last opus spoke positively among the great majority of our fans around. This is an album that took me more than a year to compose, more than a year of meditation and research of cultures all around. I do not know if this is our best album yet but definitely our darkest and maybe the most atmospheric release.
MJM. You have also collaborated with a few international artists for this album. Tell us about your experience of working alongside them.
Sakis: Working with different artists from all around was not a decision to add some credits in the album but a more meaningful choice by me as the main composer. When I come up with a song, I always wonder how I can lift this song with a guest that first of all would be a friend of mine. So, I came up with the following collaborations.
IN NOMINE DEI NOSTRI- Magus from Necromantia
ELTHE KYRIE- Danai Katsameni (ACTRESS OF HELLENIC THEATER)
FOR A VOICE LIKE THUNDER- Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost
LES LITANIES DE SATAN- Vorph from Samael
DEVADEVAM- Kathir from Rudra
MJM. At what point did you realize the band was working on a sound that was a lot different from the earlier records? What inspires you to change the sound to such an extent? How do you get it all into place?
Sakis: Any new album by ROTTING CHRIST is a kind surprise for our fans and this is what I am doing and have as a purpose, as the main and the only composer of the band. I would like to keep the interest of our listeners by changing a little bit of the sound, faithful to our roots of course, our dark black roots. This is what I did with the last album that in my opinion sounds different from the others especially in the lyrical voice and atmospheric parts of it.
MJM. Let’s talk about how the initial days of ‘Rotting Christ’ were.
Sakis: The story is so long that it can be written into a book haha but if you want to know about our first steps in two words, they were, TRUE UNDERGROUND. We still keep the underground spirit but I do not know how true this can be nowadays with so much of commercialization of the scene. The main thing is that we always try to keep the old spirit into the current era.
MJM. How do you perceive today’s Black Metal? How do you think has it evolved over time?
Sakis: Black Metal was, is and always will be the most extreme genre in music in general that expresses the dark hidden side of every human being. It doesn’t have to be commercial. We are a few that knows. That completes me as an individual.
MJM. What’s your take when a set of people claim “Black Metal needs to stay underground”, “It shouldn’t be promoted or commercialized” etc.? In what way do you think would it affect the future of many budding black metal bands?
Sakis: We cannot hide and we do not see the reality. We unfortunately or fortunately (time will show) live in a time of explosion. We cannot escape from our destiny, at least in this time period. Of course, what underground should is to do is keep deficiency in the explosion and keep the underground values alive. The difference between serious and ridiculous is so small nowadays.
MJM. A while ago, the Greek economy was severely hit. How did it affect the band’s progress? How did you guys recover from it?
Sakis: And is getting worse and worse, day by day but we are here because of something that doesn’t kill us. It made us stronger and you know something despite the financial problems. I feel that there is an explosion in the metal scene (weird ehhh) but this is the truth. Maybe, people are seeking for alternative ways of expression and metal is one of these.
MJM. I am glad to know that things are back on track for you guys. The band is also set to tour extensively in the days to come. How does it settle up on you, when you play songs from the older records if at all? Or at least rehearsals too?
Sakis: It is great and I feel that we are currently passing our best period as a band, doing good shows, touring the whole globe and getting a remarkable feedback. We worked hard for this because this is our life and this is our destiny. Always front line! Soon in your city!
MJM. Here’s a question that I have been waiting to ask you for a very long time. How do you deal with controversy? In what ways do you think was the work flow hit?
Sakis: It is hard. Controversy causes problems in all the bands but they can be found in several ways from casual chats to fights!!!!! The main thing is that we always find a solution and that matters!
MJM. Did the name, ‘Rotting Christ’ affect you as a musician in the industry? Were you ever sceptical about the audience’s perception?
Sakis: It always caused problems and closed many doors but as we believe that all religions are rotting, we keep the name true to our own and the underground belief. Conservatism should feel METAL somehow. This is at least something that we elders in the scene used to know!!
MJM. You have been very vocal about religion, politics etc., any last words for your fans?
Sakis: Be true to your own spirit and always… NON SERVIAM.
MJM. Thank you so much for taking time out to do this interview. I had a great time interacting with you.
Sakis: Me too bro! And greetings from the Hellenic scene to your readers!
Connect with the band-