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Rotting Christ: Sakis alone with himself


Thanks to a very personal music, sprinkled with surprising influences, Rotting Christ is a rather unique band in the black metal scene. Every single album is the result of Sakis Tolis’ work, who does everything alone, or as close to as to make no difference. That’s what he confessed when we interviewed him a few weeks ago: “I’m always doing everything by myself; I’m the only composer, so yes of course it’s personal. Before I start recording something, first I start talking with myself, I ask myself ‘Do I have something to say? Do I feel any vibrations? Does it make sense to go ahead with another album and new music?’ And then I go ahead with something new.”.

This is more true than ever for the latest opus, Κατά Τον Δαίμονα Εαυτού, which Sakis has not only composed, but also recorded on his own (aside from drums, provided as usual by his brother Themis Tolis), since Rotting Christ’s line-up has changed almost completely. The man told us more about this experience and confessed to making a big effort in order to avoid repeating himself: “The only reason why it took a lot of time to record and compose the album is the fact that I have already eleven albums and this album had to be different, to have something unique, something that can represent the band’s history. So I paid a lot of attention to that, thinking carefully about it. I had a kind of meditation to see if I had something to say to people. So after having really spent a lot of time in the meditation with myself, I came up with this album. I wanted to create something that made sense to be released.”

« I have already eleven albums and this album had to be different, to have something unique, something that can represent the band’s history. So I paid a lot of attention to that, thinking carefully about it. I had a kind of meditation to see if I had something to say to people. »

What was released is particularly dark – darker, even, than Rotting Christ’s previous records. In this respect, Sakis admits that only darkness and sadness can inspire him to write music: “The reflection that I had was very deep and what came up out of it was really dark. I feel this and this is the reason why I came up with such statement. And if you listen to the songs, in my opinion, they can’t make you smile. When I smile, unfortunately, I can’t create. When I smile I just want to talk to my friends and have some beers. But when I don’t feel too much optimistic, I just want to create music. […] You know, everybody has this dark side deep inside him. If you sound yourself you will find some very pessimistic or dark things well hidden. Everybody has this deep inside, I just reveal and explore this through my music. OK, I’m not a very optimistic person, I see many things negatively, but I like to expend these dark feelings with my music.”.

But that doesn’t mean Sakis is a particularly sad or negative human being. “Well, I sometimes feel happy, I’m a normal person! But when I feel optimistic or happy, I can’t create. Because, according to me, happiness can’t create music whereas decadence creates music. Difficult situations create music. When you feel bad you can create something. These are the best catalysts to create music, in my opinion.”

« When I smile, unfortunately, I can’t create. When I smile I just want to talk to my friends and have some beers. But when I don’t feel too much optimistic, I just want to create music. »

According to its maker, the album “is a journey into the knowledge of ancient civilizations, into the occultism that arose from the dark side of each one of them. There are references from the ancient civilizations of Incas and Mayas (note: the title “Yumen – Xibalba” is part of an ancient Maya ritual) to the ancient Greek and Slavic civilizations.” That ancient mysticism, which seems to be the core of Sakis’ inspiration this time, recalls his fellow countrymen from Septic Flesh. The two bands have in common this dark, immediately identifiable music and a knack for massive arrangements. But Sakis denies any resemblance with his compatriots: “We are very good friends. They have created their own style of music and I don’t think that our music is similar to them. They do something different but I like what they do.”

The album closes with a song called “666”, which piqued our curiosity, since it’s difficult to think a man as refined as Sakis would use such a cliché. “That’s an artificial title that our label created in order for you to read it. Actually it’s called “Χ ξ ς’”, which, in ancient greek, is the number of the Beast, equivalent of 666. We would never call a song like this. “666” is so cheap, so flat. These are the three Greek letters of the Apocalypse that actually mean 666.”

Up until now, Rotting Christ was an outlet for Sakis only – but the man doesn’t rule out the possibility to let his fellow musicians involve themselves more: “That would be something very good for me because since I do everything by myself I don’t have enough time to do anything else in my personal life! Of course I would love to have them implicated in the music. But first of all they have to confront their ideas with the Rotting Christ style. It would be easy for me to ask them to give me some songs and record them but it’s not that easy for them.” In this respect, he’s particularly enthusiastic regarding the new line-up, especially on stage: “We have two new members in the band that we have announced. And believe me, from what people are saying and from what I’ve seen from the stage, these guys kick some serious ass! They feel like we are going through our best live period.”

« For me, there is no pope and there is no organized religion. There are beliefs. I respect them. But anything that is organized and has to do with your beliefs is exploitation. »

At the end of the interview, we briefly talked about the debate surrounding Dave Mustaine and Megadeth, who refused to play a Greek concert in 2005 because of the presence of Rotting Christ on the bill – the name of the band being blasphemous to the singer. Since then, the two bands have never interacted in any way. “Someone told me about this and I thought that was a pity because this is not the metal spirit. Conservatism has nothing to do with the metal spirit. I feel very sad about this. Other than that, I don’t give a shit about this anymore.”

Despite a seriously aggressive band name, Sakis isn’t as radical as could be expected regarding religious beliefs. He proved it when we asked him his opinion on recent events in Vatican City: “I don’t care why the pope is resigning. For me, there is no pope and there is no organized religion. There are beliefs. I respect them. But anything that is organized and has to do with your beliefs is exploitation. […] Everybody has the right to believe what he wants to. I can’t force you. This would be very fascistic. I’m not that kind of person. But when it’s organized, when you say to me what to believe in, then you will find me against you because our main motor, our main maxim, is “non serviam”.”

And just to make sure everyone gets the message, Sakis concludes the interview with: “Keep the spirit alive. Bring the true underground metal spirit up. Until we meet you in your land, keep “non serviam”. ”

Interview conducted by phone on March 4th, 2013.
Transcription: Spaceman

Official Rotting Christ website: www.rotting-christ.com

Album Kata Ton Demona Eaftou, released March 1st, 2013, by Season Of Mist



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