Whether you agree with their beliefs or not, Greek melodic black metallers Rotting Christ have always admirably remained true to themselves. They’ve never forced or molded themselves to be anything else as they continue to freely express who they are by using music as their only weapon. With that being said, the group’s new album The Heretics, which was released in February via Season of Mist (order here), dives into their belief that religion in general is rotting. For those who disagree, you should still listen to this record as it could potentially be one of the best of 2019 (read our thoughts on it here). We spoke to frontman and mastermind Sakis Tolis as he went into detail on the new album, their arrest in the country of Georgia, and more.
I want to start off by saying, The Heretics is a bit different than your previous works but I think it’s awesome. Can you talk a more on the change?
Yes the style is metal, maybe melodic, maybe black, maybe dark, but metal. It’s an album that I wrote by myself, like I always do before the band. It took me more than a year. I had the concept about Heretics and this is the result. And the reason for this is that I woke up one day and I realized that the path that I have chosen for my life is heretic. And It was and still is I get the emphasis or whatever I was blamed many times, promises that come and go, from the religious communities. So I started to writing the album and during the time I found out there are people who follow the same path like me. It probably took me more than a whole year to compose the whole thing and I came up with an album called the Heretics.
Can you talk more about the Slavic Paganism track, Vetry Zlye (Ветры Злые)?
Yes, I think metal has no limit for me. They have no boundaries. When I came up with a song like like this, I said let’s write something about Slovenia, lets get people with Slavic rights. I had to get a friend of mine who’s Slavic, to look into this song and make it more official, you know because sometimes when you use the Native Language would make the song a little bit more attractive. That’s what I did with this song.
We’re actually are facing a time where everyone seem to be offended by everything. With that being said, do you find it more difficult to book a tour in the United State?
People are offended by everybody, now, yes that is true. We’ve faced many problems last year we were jailed in Georgia here in Europe for one day just because I don’t know why, maybe because of our band name. We have also found it’s hard to book some tours because of our band name. When we played in the USA there were some riots from some Christian communities. Music should be something you can fight for. It has a purpose. We fight to be ourselves, it makes more power to go on. Religions are rotting, so what’s the problem? We have to fight for this.
How was that whole experience being arrested in Georgia?
They took our passports, they took our cell phones, everything. They put us in a cell maybe about two square meters in size. We didn’t know why we were staying at this place. There were no charges. It was scary, but we sat there, they put us on a list, or made charges just to scare us, I don’t know, it wasn’t very uplifting. They let us leave after one day without any charges. You know, that’s music man. That’s music. Music sometimes, is made with a bit of evolution, you know you listen to something sometimes, if you have this idea, the purpose to change the world, I don’t know why. Since I was born I wanted to change the world. Maybe, that’s my problem. And I don’t get the proper sleep in my life, and that’s my life. That’s my problem in this thing we call life. So I tried to explain this with my only weapon, which is music.
Music being used as a weapon, I like that. It’s a way to show what should change. As you said there are groups and organizations trying to stop you from touring out here in the United States, what do you think about these organizations trying to stop from touring?
Yes, play their roles, we play our role. In this life, this world, this planet, just play our roles. It doesn’t matter what is right or wrong. I just play my role, they play theirs and I don’t have any problem. WIth all of those people as long as they don’t do violence. You know, actually sometimes I go to them because I want to know more about them, more about people who find our music offensive who find our band’s name offensive, what are we saying that they are offended by. Religions are rotting. It’s the way that’s happening. Even if you don’t agree. You have to fight for this, you come from a country that’s born in a democracy you have to fight for this, fight for the freedom of speech.
That’s a very true outlook. To fight for our freedom even if you have a different opinion or belief. I wanted to ask you, which is similar to this, a few years ago you were scheduled to open for Marduk and things happened, I think a Visa issue, where you didn’t give up on the tour and went from a supporting act to a headliner. How was that experience?
It was a challenge. We were in Miami waiting for them and we didn’t give up. So we were talked into being the headliner and we did very well touring to different shows throughout the states.
You’re scheduled play at Psycho Las Vegas this year, do you have any touring plans circling around that?
We play Psycho Las Vegas this August and then a couple of shows, one in California, one in San Diego. I have to wait. There are a lot of people. What’s great about the US is the people, the characters. It’s a great place to tour in the States.
Is there any other plans later in the year?
Europe tour, going to look forward to performing all around the world. And maybe go to the other side of the world.
For fun, do you have any desire to see the movie Lords of Chaos?
I have thought this. I wasn’t part of the Norwegian thing. But I really want to watch this.
Anything else you want to add?
Always be yourself. Don’t serve for your brothers and sisters. Be yourself, that is the most important thing in our life.