Rotting Christ

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Rotting Christ
Sakis Tolis, Rotting Christ, Barge to Hell 2012.jpg
Sakis Tolis on Barge to Hell, 2012
Background information
Origin Athens, Greece
Genres Black metal,[1] gothic metal,[2] dark metal[3]
Years active 1987–present
Labels Osmose (1991−1993)
Unisound (1994−1996)
Century Media (1996−2006)
Season of Mist (2006−present)
Associated acts Alastis, Moonspell, Necromantia, Nightfall, Samael, Septic Flesh, Thou Art Lord, Nightstalker, Varathron
Members Sakis Tolis
Themis Tolis
George Emmanuel
Vaggelis Karzis
Past members Jim "Mutilator" Patsouris
George "Magus Wampyr Daoloth" Zaharopoulos
Costas Vasilakopoulos
Andreas Lagios
Georgios Tolias
Giorgos Bokos

Rotting Christ is a Greek extreme metal band formed in 1987. They are noted for being one of the first black metal bands within this region, as well as a premier act within the European underground metal scene.[1] They are also responsible for creating the signature Greek black metal sound prevalent in the early 1990s.



The permanent line-up consists of brothers Sakis Tolis (vocals and guitar) and Themis Tolis (drums). Andreas Lagios was the bassist since 1997, taking the stead of Jim Patsouris until the end of 2011. Nightfall's Giorgos Bokos joined as a guitarist in 2005, replacing Costas Vasilakopoulos. In February 2012, Bokos announced his departure from the band for personal reasons.[4] In December 2012, the new members of the band were announced: guitarist George Emmanuel and bassist Vaggelis Karzis.[5]

Three keyboardists had previously been a part of the band; George Tolias, George Zaharopoulos and a session known only as Panayiotis (on A Dead Poem).

The band members from the beginning, up to Triarchy of the Lost Lovers album, were using the pseudonyms Necromayhem for Sakis,[6] Necrosauron for Themis[7] and Mutilator for Jim (Dimitris).[8]


During their rehearsal era in the late 1980s, the band began as grindcore and released various demos and splits with other bands from the Athens area. The group would later alter their sound with influence from proto-black metal bands like Celtic Frost and Venom, and in the process became one of the genre's instigators. Their 5-song demo, Satanas Tedeum, would show a grindcore/black metal crossover, followed by their career-breaking album, Passage to Arcturo, in 1991.

One of band's first major appearances was on the 1993 "Fuck Christ Tour" consisting of Immortal and Blasphemy. During this concert, some audience members had engaged in cutting and self-mutilation that resulted in hospitalization.[9] Before signing to Unisound, Mayhem's Øystein Aarseth had expressed interest in distributing the band through his Deathlike Silence Productions label,[10] but due to Aarseth's murder the same year, nothing materialized. The band would sign to Century Media in 1996 and remain on their roster for 10 years before joining Season of Mist.

Rotting Christ has played in many countries outside their native Greece, including both Americas, Greater Europe, Russia, the United Kingdom, Malta and the Middle East. Several heavy metal festivals around the world have hosted the band, including the 2003 Wacken Open Air in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Past tourmates have included My Dying Bride, Tristania, Tiamat, Vintersorg, Finntroll, Agathodaimon, Old Man's Child, Malevolent Creation, Anorexia Nervosa, Vader, Krisiun, Deicide, Behemoth, Melechesh and Nile, among many others.[11][12][13]

Rotting Christ was one of the initial bands to be announced to perform the Barge to Hell festival, which is a metal-themed cruise organized by Ultimate Metal Cruises and take place aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas. Barge to Hell set sail from Port of Miami on December 3, 2012.

As of 2012, Rotting Christ has been around 25 years and is one of the longest running bands within the black metal genre. In celebration of the band's longevity, the 2-DVD + 2-CD compilation Non Serviam: A 20 Year Apocryphal Story, shot in Athens on December 8, 2007, was released worldwide February 23, 2009.

Aealo, the band's tenth studio album, was released on February 15, 2010, for Europe and February 23, 2010, for the USA.

Their eleventh album, Kata ton Daimona Eaytoy, was released in March 2013.[14]

They are to make their first appearance in south Asia on September 13, 2014 in India (Bangalore Open Air 2014 Edition) and September 14, 2014 in Sri Lanka.

Rotting Christ is currently recording a new album, which is due for release in early 2016.[15] Rotting Christ is also scheduled to tour with Mayhem and Watain in the US in November, 2015 as part of the "Black Metal Warfare Part II" tour.[16]


Over the years, the group has faced controversy due to their name and gained international media attention in November 1999 during the 2000 United States Presidential Primaries for Republican Nomination, when candidate/Christian conservative Gary Bauer accused the band of being "anti-Catholic", among other things. In response to Bauer's criticism, Sakis Tolis wrote:

Living in (so called) democratic societies, I think everyone should have the right to call religions as he/she wants. We in fact simply believe they are "rotting"! We are not a "satanic-crusader" type of band but rather one of the many bands that represent the dark side in nowadays Metal music.[17]

They also have had to cancel some shows, most recently in May 2005, when Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine threatened to refuse to play at a Greek concert if Rotting Christ were on the bill.[18][19]

In response to their forced cancellation, Tolis noted:

I didn't expect something like that from Dave Mustaine, because, you know, he's supposed to be metal — you know, 'metal band,' all metal ... I just feel sorry for him and for every new Christian with new ideas, because we think Christianity is the worst thing to happen in human history. This is a well-organized trick in order to control society, so when I see someone that's very much Christian, that's full of the system, I feel very sorry for him because he's not free.[20]

Anthrax co-founder Dan Lilker defended Rotting Christ and criticized Dave Mustaine's actions,[21] as did Nevermore's Warrel Dane, whose bands appeared on Mustaine's Gigantour in 2005. Dane added:

Everybody is free to believe anything he wants to; I just think that Dave misunderstood the whole subject. I have met the guys from Rotting Christ and I don't think that they are Satanists or something. I think that Dave overreacted on this.[22]

When playing in Malta, a country which in its constitution declares itself as Roman Catholic, trouble from the Church and other Catholic groups ensued when an unknown person stuck a Rotting Christ flyer to a church door. The band was allowed to play eventually even though they had to change venue.

Musical style

Early in their career, they were responsible for creating what is known as the "classic" Greek black metal sound which can be heard in other bands such as Varathron and Thou Art Lord. Despite the name, the band's traditional lyrical themes involving evil and occultism has evolved into a more "mystic" path,[17] and they have modified their musical direction on each album, utilizing elements such as clean melodic baritone vocals, doom, gothic metal and industrial music traits, and male/female Benedictine chants. Recent albums, beginning with Khronos, have shown the band taking a more modern, faster and more aggressive approach to their blackened-gothic style. Their 2007 album, Theogonia, especially, has been described as more "atmospheric" and "epic" by their label.[23]

The group's choice of producers, engineers and mixers has also been varied; Swedish extreme metal figures Dan Swanö (Unisound), Peter Tägtgren (Abyss Studios) and Fredrik Nordström (Studio Fredman), German producers Andy Classen (Asphyx, Belphegor), Siggi Bemm (Therion, Theatre of Tragedy) and Waldemar Sorychta (Lacuna Coil, The Gathering) as well as Xytras (Samael percussionist/keyboardist) have all contributed to production on the band's albums.

Band members




Demos, singles, and DVDs

  • Decline's Return (1988, demo)
  • Leprosy of Death (1988, unofficial demo)
  • The Other Side of Life (1989, split EP with Sound Pollution)
  • Satanas Tedeum (1989, demo)
  • Rotting Christ / Monumentum (1991, split with Monumentum)
  • Dawn of the Iconoclast (1991, EP)
  • Ades Wind (1992, demo)
  • Apokathelosis (1993, EP)
  • The Mystical Meeting (1997, single/live/cover compilation)
  • Der Perfekte Traum (1999, single/live)
  • In Domine Sathana (2003, live DVD)
  • Non Serviam: A 20 Year Apocryphal Story (2009, live DVD/CD)
  • A Soundtrack to Mikael Häll's Doctoral Dissertation (2012, Malört förlag, split 7" single with Negative Plane)


Music videos

Year Title Directed Album
1999 "After Dark I Feel" Arnaoutoglou Vassilis Sleep Of The Angels
2007 "Keravnos Kyvernitos" Bob Katsionis Theogonia
"Enuma Elish"
2013 "χξϛʹ" Jon Simvonis, Aji Stone Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού


  1. 1.0 1.1 DaRonco, Mike. "Rotting Christ biography". Allmusic. Retrieved January 3, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Rotting Christ Aealo Review -
  3. Thomas Sonder: Rotting Christ. Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy. In: Metal Hammer, March 2013, p. 102.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Παρελθόν από τους Rotting Christ ο Γιώργος Μπόκος / Με το αυθεντικό line-up θα εμφανιστούν στο Nuclear War Now! Festival". February 16, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Rock Overdose - News - Rotting Christ: Oλοκληρωθηκε το νεο line up της μπάντας!". December 21, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Necromayhem Discogs
  7. Necrosauron Discogs
  8. Mutilator Discogs
  9. Rotting Christ at
  10. A brief chronicle of the early Hellenic Black Metal movement
  11. Rotting Christ biography at The Gauntlet
  12. Anorexia Nervosa Join Vader's Blitzkrieg 3 Tour
  13. interview with Rotting Christ
  14. "Rotting Christ, KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY (Do What Thou Wilt) album, Dark Metal (news, biography, releases, downloads, line-up, tour dates) | Season of Mist, Metal Label". Retrieved July 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Rotting Christ Begins Recording New Album". May 8, 2015. Retrieved June 27, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Bowar, Chad. "Mayhem + Watain To Co-Headline 'Black Metal Warfare II' U.S. Tour with Rotting Christ". Loudwire. [1]
  17. 17.0 17.1 Rotting Christ biography at
  18. Rotting Christ interview at
  19. MusicMight :: Artists :: ROTTING CHRIST
  20. Rotting Christ Mainman Feels 'Sorry' for Megadeth's Dave Mustaine
  21. DAN LILKER to DAVE MUSTAINE: Break Up Megadeth and Pursue Your Own Love for Jesus on Your Own
  22. - Warrel Dane interview, 30 June 2005
  23. PhonoPaca/Season of Mist

External links