Pictures : Olga Kuzmenko
Interview by: Alan Daly
Where better to seek a miracle cure for a particularly nasty bout of Autumnal Man-Flu than at the second annual pilgrimage to the Voodoo Lounge for a sermon by Black metal fore-fathers Rotting Christ? When the Greek quartet graced Dublin only last November, the setlist forgivingly focused on their most recent album Rituals and drew mostly from albums released in this decade, but almost as quickly as a messiah at Easter, they have returned tonight with a special service for their faithful followers. Tonight’s show is promised to showcase their 1993 debut full-length album Thy Mighty Contract in its entirety, and the good word has apparently spread far and wide judging by the size of the gathered congregation.
After support from two Irish acts For Ruin and Overoth, the pulpit is readied for the headliners and the flock of fans heard themselves to the front of the now sweaty venue. Atmospheric apocalyptic rumblings from the bass speakers can literally be felt through the floor and in our chests, boding well for the sound quality to come in the Voodoo Lounge which can be hit-or-miss. For an extreme/black metal show, there is an unusually high number of female metalheads in attendance, many of whom have secured places at or near the stage, making a welcome change to the regular male-dominated attendance at gigs of the genre.
Drummer Themis Tolis takes to the stage first, followed by his brother, frontman, guitarist, vocalist and fellow founding member Sakis Tolis. They are accompanied by guitarist George Emmanuel and bassist Vagelis Karzis, who have completed the lineup since 2012. As foretold, the four evangelists launch straight into Thy Mighty Contract with opening track ‘The Sign of Evil Existence’, and continuing through the album in strict procession, save for one minor rotation. Steering clear of morbid make-up and concealed identities as are prolific among black metal bands, they let their performance make their statement, and that statement is clear: Despite being in the game for three full decades, Rotting Christ is still at the top of their game. Sound quality is superb throughout and audience engagement and enthusiasm are contagious.
Aside from the debut album recital (including ‘Visions of the Dead Lover’, originally released on the Apokathelosis EP and included on the 1998 re-release of Thy Mighty Contract), the remainder of the setlist is entirely drawn from music recorded in the early nineties, along with their cover of Thou Art Lord’s number ‘Societas Satanas’.
As the night draws to a close, the only complaints heard echoing around the venue are that the set was too short, but whether preaching to the converted or proselytizing the unbelievers, Rotting Christ has come again, and all are happy to have received them. The mass has ended. You may go in pieces.