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  • Words by Faye Coulman and Sarah Stubbs


Does the thought of basking in the bright August sunshine listening to good-time rock ’n’ roll make you spontaneously dry heave faster than a three day-old, overflowing Portaloo? Had it up to here with perky, arena-filling ‘life metal’ killing your grim ’n’ frostbitten buzz year after year? Yep, us too. So, for the second year running, allow Team Dark Matter to help you weed out the weak stuff and catch some of the most stirringly savage extreme metal highlights set to grace the hallowed grounds of Bloodstock Open Air this year.


STANDOUTS: 'Ze Nigmar', 'Enuma Elish', 'Fire God and Fear'

SOUNDS LIKE: Immortal, Behemoth, Septicflesh

SIGNED WITH: Season of Mist

Those Blood-stockers lucky enough to begin the festivities on Thursday should make a beeline for Rotting Christ’s headline Sophie set. On what is usually something of dead night, lost to the inevitable piss-up following the rigours of tent-pitching and hours-long queueing for wristbands, for those who take a gander these Greek metal titans’ dusky blackened sound, and catchy choruses that you’ll want to growl along to, will be the perfect inky aperitif to the carnage ahead.

Although starting out initially as a grind-core unit in the late 80s, Rotting Christ soon started to take inspiration from the newly emerging black metal slowly spreading it’s insidious, corruptive stain across Europe’s underground scene. No strangers to controversy, a large part of the band’s allure was in part down to their very black metal condemnation of religion; for them, Christianity, and all such creeds, are ‘rotting’. Indeed, their ethos is so vehemently anti-religious that bands have refused to be booked with them, and they have even been arrested for suspected terrorism. However, their music goes beyond the usual tired satanic tropes trotted out by more mediocre purveyors of the genre and has proven a richly accomplished and ever-inventive kind of beast that is no less than visionary. As they cunningly crafted the dark and twisty gothic style that is distinctly Rotting Christ, the two brothers at the heart of the band, Sakis (vocals/guitar) and Themis Tolis (drums), quickly became the stuff of legend, instrumental in defining the budding Greek black metal sound.

The band’s influences range from doom to industrial metal, and with several successful album releases behind them, their ingenious, infernal inventiveness is seemingly endless as they set rich, baritone vocals and wickedly subverted liturgical chants against opulent, velveteen atmospherics enhanced by epic chords, lunatic drums and plunging riffs. If a bunch of hell’s demons got together and formed a weekly choir group, this is no doubt how they would sound.