Rotting Christ @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

ROTTING CHRIST / CARACH ANGREN / NECRONOMICON

Date: 11th September, 2016
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $25 (€22) in advance - $28 (€25) day of show
Promoter: n/a


This extremely aggressive billing got into trouble the moment it was announced that MARDUK could not enter the US due to some Visa-related issues. If I am not mistaken, this was something like a last minute’s notice (at least for the public), so the question pretty much was laid on ROTTING CHRIST’s shoulders whether to take over the headlining role until MARDUK are cleared to join. I cannot even imagine how stressful would have been for the Greek veteran band because switching from a 40 to 70-minute setlist can be a huge task, but at the same time can be(come) a huge opportunity. Even though this tour is still going, I am happy (and proud) to say that ROTTING CHRIST not only handle excellently the headlining role, but have impressed all those US metalheads who have still not get into this band’s excellent discography. So, let’s get things started...

Following the METAL KAOZ tradition, we met ROTTING CHRIST’s mastermind Sakis before the show and had a really interesting interview (which will soon be published) about the current tour and the band's immediate plans, so we had to pretty much lose most of NECRONOMICON’s set. Upon entering Reggies, we were greeted by an almost packed venue with people who were clearly enjoying the Canadians’ Death / Black Metal. Yeah, the massive drum sound and the fast guitar riffs of “Into The Fire” quickly created an appetite for some intense headbanging, while the band's corpse painted faces was a nice finishing touch (that really entices the US audience). “The Time Is Now” dropped the curtain for this most successful set by the Canadians who made the most of the time given and just by looking around, I realized that everyone was up and ready for CARACH ANGREN’s unholy festivities. That was a great start for a Sunday night.

The time preparations did not take that much (using the same drum-kit helps a lot), so everything was ready to welcome CARACH ANGREN who seemed to have quite a following because the excitement was evident. Yeah, the moment the lights went out, the taped intro kicked in and the front rows became crowded as the band members started showing up in their best Black Metal behavior. I really like when a Black Metal band can support the music with the stage presence because just wearing inverted crosses and corpse paint says nothing, if you don’t own this. And yes, CARACH ANGREN knew their game, and especially singer Seregor whose theatrics (moves and facial expressions) did present the horror infested lyrics the best way. The only downside was the lights or maybe the lack of thereof because it was impossible to see the band members' faces, although this comes from me who was trying to take some decent photos. Without stopping, the band spearheaded with “Lingering In An Imprint Haunting” that was melodic enough for us to enjoy the killer guitar leads and have a good look on how Seregor was delivering with passion the lyrics. There was no bassist onstage and I think this gave more space for the keyboards to make a difference as far as creating an atmosphere was concerned.  “Chicago, CARACH ANGREN have returned”, Seregor said before introducing “Sir John” as a song that had never been played before in the US, something that stirred up the crowd and fired up a couple of mosh-pits. The energy level was increased a notch during “The Carriage Wheel Murder” where a nice wall of death occupied the center of Reggies despite the rather packed front rows. I guess, there is always room for a good ol’ wall of death, right?

Keyboard and drum-based “Spectral Infantry Battalions” seems like an odd selection for a setlist but it really worked live with Seregor wearing a skeleton-crown (check the pics below) and with the keyboards dominating the sound. Yeah, there was an almost horror film atmosphere that absolutely worked and paved the way for the faster “Bitte Tötet Mich” which quickly restored the moshing fan. “We have two more songs for you” said the band’s frontman before “Killed And Served By The Devil” and the killer “Bloodstains On The Captain’s Log”. Seregor acknowledged the metalheads for their participation in the show by saying: “you, motherfuckers, have always been amazing to us” and then promised that CARACH ANGREN will return in Chicago. And why shouldn’t they? Their set was solid, created a great atmosphere and in the end threw down the gauntlet for ROTTING CHRIST who seemed to have quite a challenge in front of them.

CARACH ANGREN setlist:

01. “There's No Place Like Home”
02. “Lingering In An Imprint Haunting”
03. “Sir John”
04. “The Carriage Wheel Murder”
05. “Spectral Infantry Battalions”
06. “Bitte Tötet Mich”
07. “Killed And Served By The Devil”
08. “Bloodstains On The Captain’s Log”

CARACH ANGREN

Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Carach Angren @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Apart from Sakis, the rest of ROTTING CHRIST immediately got on stage to help CARACH ANGREN getting up their gear and then setting up theirs, proving that there aren't superstar-personas among the Greek band who is very well aware how important are the fans to keep this scene alive (I wish this would be the norm for all the bands out there – especially the big ones). Anyway, the result of this is that we pretty much got back in the time schedule and a few minutes after 10:30pm, the lights went out and the taped intro (which I think was the beginning of “Orders From The Dead”) marked the time for ROTTING CHRIST who were about to pick up the gauntlet thrown by CARACH ANGREN and makes us boast with pride. Oh yes, the BATHORY-inspired guitars of “Ze Nigmar” sent shivers down our spine and without any warm-up, got everyone headbanging in no time. The sound was amazing, the drums were pounding hard and Sakis with his trademark onstage pose (one foot on the stage monitor) was grunting the lyrics of this amazing track. To be honest, I did not expect such a reaction by the audience and, in fact, I feared that the absence of MARDUK would have taken a huge toll. Sure, if MARDUK were part of the billing, then Reggies would be close to sold-out but I think those who did not come, lost a chance to enjoy of full set by ROTTING CHRIST which for the US-based METAL KAOZ crew had happened almost a decade ago.

“Good evening Chicago, IL - are you ready to make some hell tonight?” said Sakis obviously excited by the response the band got during the first song of the set. “Kata To Daimona Eaytoy” was the one to highlight this early of the show how great this lineup has turned out to be and how solid is its performance. The passion coming from George and Vaggelis was so addictive that soon enough one could only see fists-pumping and head-banging in the first rows. And yes, the “300” grunt sounded louder, and personally I got goosebumps during the Hellenic-sounding guitar solo - just speechless. “Twice in the same year, Chicago - are you having a good time?” Sakis asked and then added “you are immortals” which was the punch line for the groovy and, at the same time, melodic (the main riff is a killer) “Athanati Este”. From this point, ROTTING CHRIST put a heavy foot on the gas pedal and never touched the breaks by practically playing the songs back-to-back with minimum breaks. The setlist had an amazing flow and kept the audience blood pumping non-stop. I mean, is there any way to resist “Elthe Kyrie” which despite the pre-recorded recitation, sounded ten times more brutal than on the record? The entire band was already dripping with sweat and during this one, the lights were on Themis who was pounding the drum-skins like there was no tomorrow, keeping up a steady hand on this song’s fast snare-drum and granite solid groove. Of course, we were screaming our lungs out “Elthe Kyrie” like it was the last thing we’d do. This song made an unholy pairing with the ritualistic “Apage Satana” and made a nice pun with the title because the first invites someone, and the latter exorcises another...

It was about to revisit the old ROTTING CHRIST material with the back-to-back “Sign Of Evil Existence” and “The Forest Of N' Gai”. The energy level peaked during the THOU ART LORD cover “Societas Satanas”, especially because of its headbanging-to-death-driving riff. This one was the highest point of the set in terms for getting everyone involved in moshing, headbanging and chorus-singing along. ROTTING CHRIST (especially George and Vaggelis) were standing as close as humanely possible on the front rows and it was fun looking at the way the band members were exchanging facial expressions with the guys and gals close to the barrier.

After this explosion, ROTTING CHRIST turned their backs on us (ok, aside Themis) to take a short breath and build the atmosphere for “In Yumen / Xibalba” that marked the return to the band's newest material, but really, it made no difference in terms of the audience’s energy. That was elevated and stayed there during the entire set that felt to end too fast with “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” and “Noctis Era” which followed after these words: “Ave America, it was a wonderful night, it's time for the last one”. We were 11 songs deep in the set, and felt like it was some minutes after “Ze Nigmar” but I guess the saying “time flies when you’re having a great time” has a solid point in the case of the Greeks. The band quickly left the stage, but the chanting coming from the thirsty crowd “one more song” was too compelling to ignore. Keep in mind that the US audiences are kind of tough, especially in small venues like that, so a band has to work really hard to get such a response. The intro of Χ Ξ Σ” saw the band members getting back onstage one by one and gave us a two-song encore with the last being my personal (and old-school) favorite “Non Serviam”.

That was a great ending on an amazing set from ROTTING CHRIST who proved not only capable to handle MARDUK’s absence, but even more capable to handle a full headlining tour in this side of the Atlantic, so I keep praying to the dark lords for this to happen. In the light of MARDUK postponing their US tour, my advice to you is get the first chance to see a full set by ROTTING CHRIST who are still working hard on and off stage, and keep Sakis’ words close to your heart: “KEEP THE SPIRIT ALIVE”.

«Ιερός πόλεμος - Ιαχή δαίμονος»

ROTTING CHRIST setlist:

01. “Ze Nigmar”
02. “Kata To Daimona Eaytoy”
03. “Athanati Este”
04. “Elthe Kyrie”
05. “Apage Satana”
06. “Sign Of Evil Existence”
07. “The Forest Of N' Gai”
08. “Societas Satanas”
09. “In Yumen / Xibalba”
10. “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos”
11. “Noctis Era”
12. Χ Ξ Σ”
13. “Non Serviam”

ROTTING CHRIST

Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Rotting Christ @ Reggies Rock Club (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)