Artist: Rotting Christ
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Epicurean & Mantic Ritual
Label: Season Of Mist Records
The return of Rotting Christ to New York City would be my first show of the Metal year 2009 and oddly enough it would happen once again at B.B. King Blues Club where the band had played just around the same time last year. That show was pretty much an interesting experience as it found a unique combination of European Black Metal meeting the US brand with a heaping dose of NY Death Metal thrown in for good measure. Tonight the guys in Rotting Christ would be returning to our shores with bands that were not only new to many listeners but also rather new to their recording contracts. This would amount to the newcomers looking to build upon their own craft and audience by hopefully snaring a few of the people who were in attendance for Rotting Christ. The bands were Metal Blade Records and Nuclear Blast Records’ own Epicurean and Mantic Ritual and with only three bands for the full show I was surprised that it was actually going to start as early as it would.
Epicurean: Originally I had only thought that Epicurean was touring with Rotting Christ but as I arrived in the venue I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there would be another new band to absorb. I didn’t mind not having an incredible amount of background on either of them for I remember that it was not too many years ago where I first saw this new band called Into Eternity and another Metal upstart called Unexpect and since that time I have become a staunch supporter of each of their efforts. Each of the bands is apparently young and very energetic on the stage. The Metal Blade guys Epicurean struck me as interesting right off the bat as their brand of Metal had a lot of modern elements to it and everyone in the band was getting into it on the stage. New to me, the band had actually been around since 2003 and since their inception would have some different members. They’re fronted by John Laramy and present their Metal with some flair based on the added use of keyboards. For the Rotting Christ tour they would be joined by guitarist Brian Koenig (who hails from the band Luna Mortis) and his talents compliment that of john Gensmer, Jared Mills and Jared Schneider. Their album is already out and called “A Consequence Of Design” and as I listened to them I slightly wondered if their music was actually based on the philosophy of Epicurus, for their name is a direct correlation of the philosophers own. I guess I need to get my hands on a lyric book to find out a little bit more on that. I liked what I was hearing and think that many others would appreciate their sound and based on tonight I look forward to seeing them again. I will get my chance when the guys open up for Kreator in a couple of months. The availability of the bands album made me wonder how they ended up going on first as opposed to Mantic Ritual who had just been signed and not yet released their debut, but despite this a solid set was delivered and now it was time to enjoy a little Mantic Ritual.
Mantic Ritual: Coming up second of the night and hitting the ground running were another group of young guys who seemed dedicated to slamming down some traditional sounding Thrash Metal. I am guessing that the youth shall inherit the Metal these days as other bands of this type like Warbringer and Black Tide are really getting a lot of exposure and quality gigs. The four piece band at a couple of points this evening were reminding me of the glory days of Metallica and Megadeth and while I don’t meant that they sounded like those icons, it was just a refreshing difference to find this vibe coming to the fore from bands that are so visibly young. We have more than enough Metalcore and Screamo bands thank you very much, so lets get some Old School Metal happening again while the time is right. These guys hail from Pittsburgh, PA and used to call themselves “Meltdown”, which while I felt was a better name for a Metal band can understand their needing to change it to avoid any issues with those who also might be using the name. There is a twin guitar attack that is led by Dan Wetmore who also sings and is accompanied by Jeff Potts. Solid players and they appear to be on top of exchanging the lead breaks across their material. The rhythm section of the band is completed by the other two members Ben Mottsman and Adam Haritan (bass and drums respectively). Their set moved quickly and the response they were getting from the audience was on the positive side so I feel that those who enjoy the traditional sound of Metal will easily enjoy these guys. Now it was time for Rotting Christ.
Rotting Christ: I had not really followed Rotting Christ over the course of their career and this was more based on the availability of their material in this region than anything else but after the show last year I definitely enjoyed what they did and realized just how important their approach was to the roots of Dark Metal. They are an intense force of Metal in the live sense and clearly deliver a solid show to anyone who attends. Led and fronted by Sakis Tolis, the band hails from Athens, Greece and along with his brother Themis (drums) have led the charge for this kind of Metal for almost two decades. Their set list tonight would feature a number of the bands staples and I found selections like “Enuma Elish” and “Keravnos Kivernitos” to be the most appealing. A strong amount of the set tonight would come from the bands latest album “Theogonia” and since this album is rather easy to obtain over here I felt this was a great move. The performance was a no nonsense affair and while Sakis would talk to the crowd a couple of times he was all about the business of Metal this evening as he and the guys delivered their fifteen plus song set. They really sounded good were as tight as hell which made me wonder why more folks were not in attendance for this gig.
Looking back on tonight’s show I had to say that while I enjoyed it very much I was a little disappointed in the real lack of attendance that it brought out. A band like this does not get around these parts all that often and with it being the first really heavy show of the year I had expected a lot more of the Metal legions to be on point for it. The last time around Rotting Christ performed with Immolation, Belphegor and Averse Sefira and there was quite an audience in place for the show. Maybe in hindsight that gig featured more bands that people had better awareness of but I have to say that the listener should always be willing to give some of the bands that they are not too up on a chance because you never truly know what you are going to see. The limited crowd tonight made me wonder if this show would have been better presented at the clubs sister venue The Highline Ballroom because the place can easily look crowded even with an attendance like this one. Let’s hope that this show doesn’t keep Rotting Christ from returning to NYC anytime soon as that would be a shame.
Mantic Ritual Set List:
1. Intro/One by One
3. Murdered to Death
5. We Bite (Misfits Cover)
6. By the Cemetery
7. Next Attack
Rotting Christ Set List:
2. Xaoe Fento (The Sign Of The Prime Creation)
3. Keravnos Kivernitos
4. Athanatom Este
5. Enuma Elish
6. King Of A Stellar War
7. The Sign Of Evil Existence
8. Transform All Suffering Into Plague
9. The Fifth Illusion
11. In Domine Sathana
12. Phobos Synagogue
16. Non Serviam – encore
Here’s a shot of the Rotting Christ dressing room sign. I thought you might want to see it.