(300 pages, A5, printed, in English)
First things first: I am not the biggest fan of artist biographies, auto- or otherwise, with a few exceptions of course. Springsteen can fucking write, that’s why “Born To Run” is a great read. Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller and Hunter S Thompson wrote about nothing but their lives, but they are in a league of their own. So, do I care about a book about a band that I have stopped following 25 years ago? To my own surprise, I do! “Non Serviam” is a great, albeit light read, packed full of anecdotes, flyers, photos and tons of useless info that helps paint a fantastic and colorful picture of a time and a place. It is more or less an oral history of ROTTING CHRIST with very few additional notes from editor (and Cult Never Dies bossman) Dayal Patterson, but it’s those notes that put everything in perspective. The first 100 or so pages are pure bliss, dealing with growing up in Greece in the 1970s, discovering Metal and Punk and eventually forming a crappy band with crappy instruments. There is no glossing over embarassing facts and thankfully history does not get rewritten. The core members of ROTTING CHRIST were weed smoking teenage hooligans who created a hellish racket of noise; noise in a very literal sense. Growing up in the infamous anarchist Punk circles of Athens (and we all know that Greek anarchists are nothing to fuck with!), their earliest influences were NAPALM DEATH and 7 MINUTES OF NAUSEA for a few years before they learned how to properly play their instruments and reverted to the ways of the forefathers VENOM, BATHORY and POSSESSED. And this is where things truly get interesting: Jim Mutilator recalls that the “Satanas Tedeum” demo wasn’t even Black Metal (according to his definition), but the debut EP “Passage To Arcturo” was – at least lyrically. It is fascinating to be reminded that Black Metal is all about the atmosphere, the lyrics and the mindset and not about the sound per se. And while that should be common knowledge, it certainly won’t hurt to see it repeated once again. And again. And fucking again, until the last bedroom one man “Black Metal” project ceases to exist. The Greek sound – if there ever was such a thing to begin with – was the sound of VARATHRON, NECROMANTIA, THOU ART LORD and above all ROTTING CHRIST. It was more Heavy Metal oriented than what happened up north at the time, more melodic, yet more gloomy, doomy and eerie. And please let me return to the matter of sound vs attitude one more time: the infamous “Fuck Christ” tour of 1993, arguably the first ever all Black Metal tour, saw Canada’s BLASPHEMY and IMMORTAL of all bands billed next to ROTTING CHRIST – and none of these bands sounded like the other. But after all that is where the book stops being interesting… sadly so, I might add. There are tour stories of wasted nights, of working with choirs, of dealing with record label executives. All of this has its place in the history of ROTTING CHRIST, no doubt, it’s just that it bores me to sleep. I have read all of this a hundred times before. It’s the same story over and over and over again for literally every fucking Rock band on the face of this planet. And while I have nothing but respect for the longevity, perseverance and work ethic of ROTTING CHRIST, their story after 1996 (or after the compelling first half of the book) is a story of a band losing the black flame that initially guided them – just like IMMORTAL, BURZUM or SAMAEL. Those bands were at their peak when Satan was leading them. But hey, it’s a great book (at least half ot it) and the pictures, flyers and anecdotes from the early days alone will make it worth your while. www.cultneverdies.com is the publisher and www.facebook.com/rotting-christ-290468585669 is the band.