NON SERVIAM: THE OFFICIAL STORY OF ROTTING CHRIST (Book Review)
REVIEWED: February 2019
RELEASED: November 2018, Cult Never Dies
RATING: 4.5 / 5
REVIEWER: Lord of the Wasteland
It wasn’t until I started reading NON SERVIAM: THE OFFICIAL STORY OF ROTTING CHRIST that I became aware of just how influential the Greek metal band was. Sure, Rotting Christ’s recording history goes back to the late eighties with a steady influx of albums along the way and 1993’s THY MIGHTY CONTRACT is a genre staple. But Greece has just never jumped to the forefront when metal bands get discussed. Besides Rotting Christ, bands like Firewind, Septicflesh, Suicidal Angels, Gus G. or Nightrage would immediately come to mind, while the more learned metalhead would be able to namedrop Varathron, Thou Art Lord, Necromantia and Nightfall. Other than that, Greece seems to be known more for its passionate metal fans (ask Iced Earth) than its prolific turning out of metal bands.
So when it was announced that Cult Never Dies founder Dayal Patterson had written a book chronicling the history of Rotting Christ, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Upon arrival, the 300-page paperback was chock full of photos, recording information and interviews with nearly all of the members who have gone through the Rotting Christ ranks. Band leader/vocalist/guitarist Sakis Tolis, along with his drummer brother, Themis (who has never before agreed to be interviewed), get the lion’s share of space here but reclusive founding bassist/lyricist Jim Mutilator and keyboardist Morbid are given room for their thoughts, as well. Peppered throughout the book are anecdotes from such notables as Nergal, Dani Filth and Blasphemer, Ross Dolan from Immolation, Moonspell’s Fernando Ribeiro, Christos Antoniou from Septicflesh, as well as members of Grave, Blasphemy, Enslaved, Tiamat and Watain. In other words, despite the band’s humble beginnings, the international reach of Rotting Christ cannot be underestimated.
The path of Rotting Christ began as a grindcore act in the late eighties but quickly evolved into occult-leaning Black metal which differed from the cold harshness of the music coming out of Norway. On later albums, this expanded into its own blend of dark, atmospheric metal with elements of folk and world music that created a unique mix which has become Rotting Christ’s trademark. Hailing from Greece, a traditionally Orthodox country, this was highly controversial, yet somehow the Tolis brothers became well-known and accepted. The book explains in great detail how the band name and shaky Greek economy put up plenty of obstacles throughout the years with record label woes proving equally troublesome. The one constant, though, is the unwavering determination and vision of Sakis Tolis that has kept Rotting Christ alive. Tolis’ passion for music and the Rotting Christ brand seems as fierce today as it did thirty years ago. His frustrations are evident, often stating that his brother’s unwillingness to commit to the band have forced Sakis into a leadership role and that the revolving door of musicians (who were never made “official” members) and shady record labels perhaps hindered the success of Rotting Christ. These personal anecdotes make for a truly compelling read.
Like the music of Rotting Christ, NON SERVIAM is aimed at a niche audience, which is exactly why it is a perfect release for Cult Never Dies. What surprises though is the quality of the product and the breadth of the material. This is a must-own for fans of the band and for those seeking a different approach to the Black metal genre, NON SERVIAM is an excellent jumping off point to the Greek legends, Rotting Christ.
Format Reviewed: Paperback
Publisher: Cult Never Dies
Website: Rotting Christ; Facebook