When bands such as Marduk and Rotting Christ come out to my neck of the desert, I make sure I go see them and support the extreme metal scene to ensure they keep coming back to this arid-climate-hell that some of us call home. It was disappointing to find out that Marduk had to cancel this part of the tour due to visa issues, but even with Rotting Christ taking on the part of the headliner, no one doubted that they wouldn’t be able to hold up their end of this awesome tour package.

The only local band we caught before the touring package of bands started playing were Phoenix’s thrash upstarts, Ashes of the Dead. This group has been has been around for a few years and has gone through a couple of lineup changes. The one constant this act has had during this time has been playing old school aggressive thrash metal. We caught the tail end of their set where they ended with back-to-back kick-ass covers of Sepultura’s “Refuse/Resist” and Lamb of God’s “Omerta”. I’m looking forward to hearing more from these thrashers in the near future.

The first band from the touring package was Quebec’s Necronomicon. Other than their drummer going to the same school of corpse paint application as Abbath, there wasn’t much I remember about them. Sometimes when you don’t have anything nice to say about something, you should probably move on and that’s what I’m going to do… Next up were Symphonic Black Metal maestros, Carach Angren. I’ve listened to these guys before and even though I’m not a big fan of their recorded material, I really enjoyed them live. They are very active and the vocalist “Seregor” does a great job getting the crowd riled up. I didn’t know this until a friend mentioned it to me that night, but Jack Owen (ex-Cannibal Corpse/Current Deicide) is their current touring guitarist. They were definitely a crowd favorite that night but the Hellas Hoplites were up next.

Rotting Christ formed in 1989 and got their start from putting demo ads in fanzines. Fast-forward twenty-seven years later, they’re touring the world as a headlining act via a country not known for putting out tons of successful metal acts, let alone of the Black Metal variety. Kicking off their set with “Ze Nigmar” off their latest album, Rituals, Rotting Christ became a phalanx and moved in to assault the ears of the crowd. Their set list covered a ton of ground, they played material from Katá ton Daímona Eaf̱toú, Sanctus Diavolos, Thy Mighty Contract, Passage to Arcturo and ended their pre-encore set with “Noctis Era” from the Aealo album.

Rotting Christ’s encore, “Non Serviam”, was the exclamation point ensuring that nothing was left on the battlefield. Not only did they play with the fervor of a band just getting their first chance on the big stage, they were super-appreciative of the Phoenician response. Sakis thanked the crowd over and over again for their enthusiasm and ensured that they would come back to Phoenix soon. How soon is soon Sakis? We already miss you!

Check out the song “Ἄπαγε Σατανά” (“Apage Satana”)