This guest post comes from Genji from Los Angeles. Look for more metal/punk posts from our California correspondent…
On a slow Tuesday night in Hollywood, Decibel magazine decided to bring the Apostles of Darkness tour to the Key Club. With a slew of bands on the bill including Lecherous Nocturne, Abigail Williams and Hate, this is one tour you should be on the lookout for if you want more headbanging for your buck. For me, the two bands I was dying to see happened to headline the show, the mighty Melechesh and the immortal Rotting Christ.
Having missed Lecherous Nocturne and Abigail Williams, the night started off for me with Polish death metallers, Hate. Being familiar with the band in name only, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Poland cranks out tons of top quality death metal bands, so I was anticipating their set. Four imposing figures dressed in corpsepaint and flowing, dark gothic attire walked onstage looking similar to country-mates, Behemoth. Once the opening riffs rang out, let’s just say the look wasn’t all that was reminiscent. Playing mostly songs from their latest album, Erebos, Hate put on a good, energetic performance, creating a dark suffocating atmosphere with a tight barrages of riffs, breakdowns and blasts. Their slower, dark, melodic passages were a strong suit, but their lack of soloing took something away from their technical compositions. It’s a sound I attribute more to a deathcore style, which is a style I”m not that into. For this type of music I feel there needs to be more than just riff/blast/breakdown/melodic passage to keep my attention. Entertaining though they were, I was more than ready for some headbanging, Sumerian metal.
If you’ve never heard of Melechesh, you are really missing out on some serious epic shit. Formed in Jerusalem in ’93, these guys are by far one of my favorite bands anywhere, period. They play what many call blackened thrash however, their music weaves a lot of Middle Eastern stylings and tones into the fabric of their sound which uniquely sets them apart from the pack. Lyrically similar to Nile, they indulge in Sumerian/Mesopotamian themes, but whatever your tastes, musically these guys just plain kill it.
Illumination: The Face of Shamesh off their new album, The Epigenesis, got things started in fine fashion with lead singer/guitarist, Ashmedi, commanding the audience in his throat shredding rasp to start up the pit. After another new selection they started culling songs from their excellent back catalog like Deluge of Delusional Dreams and Ladders to Sumeria from the epic Emissaries album and even further back with Grand Gathas of Bal Sin from the Sphynx album. Each song kept whipping the crowd into more and more of a metal frenzy til the epic headbanger Ghouls of Nineveh blew the doors wide open. Rebirth of the Nemesis ended the set leaving the crowd burnt to a crisp. I can’t say enough about how great they were technically and energy-wise. Ashmedi is one of my new heroes; the guy is a fantastic performer and his writing keeps improving with each album. I suggest you pick up Emissaries before any of the others and then tell me this band isn’t destined for greatness. I certainly can’t wait until they come back, perhaps headlining next time?
For some, the next band need no introduction. After all, Greek black metallers Rotting Christ have been around since the late 80’s. However, I hadn’t ever given them much of a chance at all and to be quite honest, I admit I was a bit of a metal bigot towards them, figuring I knew exactly what they would sound like so I never even bothered. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I heard the Theogonia album, and I remember being surprised it sounded much different than I imagined it would be. But once again, continued to pass on them. When I recently read Decibel‘s “Hall of Fame” issue covering their debut album Thy Mighty Contract, I got really intrigued and decided to give them a serious spin. Though their roots are steeped in black metal, pre-dating most of their early 2nd wave Norwegian comrades, they’ve always had a bit of a power metal slant in their music, which has now become the more dominant influence these days. Their newer songs sound like a combination of the power and majesty of old Manowar, with the epic, soaring melodies of old In Flames, and I say that with the utmost respect for those two legendary bands. After grabbing most of their early stuff along with latest album Aealo, all I can say is “Holy shit, where have I been all this time?”
When Rotting Christ hit the stage, they started the battle charge with epic opener, Aealo, from their latest album of the same name. It seems odd to describe a band named Rotting Christ as happy, but this band seemed truly excited and humbled to be playing for this dedicated LA bunch, and the enthusiasm emanating from lead singer Sakis Tolis really commanded the energy of the crowd and kicked their performance into high gear. Old songs like The Sign of Evil Existence and the beautifully haunting melody of King of a Stellar War paid excellent tribute to their ground breaking origins, but it was the newer era songs that really showcased the power and elegance of Rotting Christ. Burners like The Sign of Prime Creation and Enuma Elish off Theogonia got the crowd in a slamming frenzy while the pounding Fire, Death and Fear and epic marching beat of Noctis Era really got the necks snapping. For the encore, Sakis came out donning the greek warrior helmet seen on the cover of Aealo and the band closed the excellent set with Non Serviam. This got the crowd fired up one last time, a fitting end to a great night of metal.
In this day and age it’s often frowned upon for extreme metal bands to come off as being “happy”, but these guys were fun and enjoyable and didn’t care who knew it. It really turned this performance from a good one into a great one. I came very late to the Rotting Christ bandwagon and even though this band has far exceeded all my expectations, this performance lifted my appreciation and respect for them tenfold. It’s really refreshing to see that a band that’s been around as long as they have, still look and sound like they’re just as excited and happy to be here as they were over 20 years ago. I can’t wait to continue on with my “discovery” of Rotting Christ.