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Conquer And Divide with SAKIS TOLIS From ROTTING CHRIST

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Greek metal outfit Rotting Christ are rightfully hailed as one of the leading purveyors in the history of black metal.

Since 1987 the band has released 14 studio albums – including Non Serviam, Thy Mighty Contract, Rituals and The Heretics – and influenced generations of fellow bands, musicians and fans in a genre of music that suffers no fools or pretenders.

Put simply, they are a musical force unto themselves, shrouded in mystery and venom that only 35 years of surviving the cut-throat music industry can provide.

To celebrate this milestone, Rotting Christ are about to embark on their first Australian tour in over a decade this May, with HEAVY cheekily asking guitarist Sakis Tolis why the band have neglected us on this side of the world for so long.

Neglected Oceania?” he laughed. “This has not crossed our mind! (We are) A band with more than 2000 shows worldwide in every distant territory you can imagine… Just didn’t happen due to circumstances like the pandemic or delaying the release of our album. Nothing personal for Aussies and we look forward to returning down under!”

The Australian shows are part of a global tour undertaken by Rotting Christ, with the shows completed so far highlighting the band’s status as a pioneering force of black metal.

“We have just returned from Latin America and we salute you now from Canada,” Tolis relayed. “This year looks more than busy playing all around the globe anywhere there are Metalheads. I was believing that when I turned 50 I would calm down, but it seems that I am more hungry for metal than ever!”

We ask if there will be any special surprises to celebrate 35 years of music.

Nothing really,” he sighed. “I do not know. The release of our new album, celebrating our 35 years? Including a taste before its release?”

That album is Rotting Christ’s 15th studio album Pro Xristoy, which will be released on May 24, posing the question as to how much of that new material Australian fans will be privy to.

Maybe one or two songs…,” Tolis teased. “We do not come to Australia to essentially celebrate the new album. We come to celebrate our 35 years of existence, after a long 12 years without visiting Australia and New Zealand.”

We press Tolis on the musical direction of the new album and if fans of the band will be satisfied.

“It is the most epic, melodic and metal album ever!” he enthused. “Now, I do not know if people will like it, but we did our best. For fans of real metal I have the feeling that they will enjoy it. It’s not easy to not have similarities after 14 albums, but surprises are our goal…Hope you will like it, though.

Sakis and his brother Themis started Rotting Christ back in 1987, in a time where black metal was still more of an underground form of metal with little reach outside of hardcore fans. We ask him to take us back to that time to outline the musical climate that gave birth to Rotting Christ and where the band fit in.

“We wanted to change the world and to play like our idols back then,” he recalled. “That’s the spirit that was the reason of creating a band in a fundamentalist country like Greece, this was not easy at all!”

Despite being widely regarded as pioneers of black metal, Tolis himself says that is a label – that while obviously welcome – is not something given much credence within the band.

“We call ourselves metal, and you can call it as you wish,” he shrugged. “We changed a lot, we experimented, but we always stayed true to our own spirit.”

But his face warms more when asked about Rotting Christ’s live shows and their connection with their fans.

Sharing our feelings and passion with our brothers and sisters is our goal,” he smiled. “You know, sometimes I am wondering why I am still doing this after 35 years. It is the moment you see a happy face after each show…this is enough to give us power to go on.”

Just to sweeten the deal before finishing our chat, Tolis reverts back to the earlier question about special surprises to celebrate 35 years of metal.

(There will be) FREE Meet and Greets after each show with fans because we love our fans!” he promised.

Which almost makes up for 12 years of neglect…

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