And the city of Toronto became part of a global cult of melodic and ritualistic Black Metal thanks to the undisputed music by the almighty Rotting Christ.
OPENING ACTS: Gaerea, UADA and Carach Angren
I must confess I was a little worried about what would happen to the GAEREA, UADA, CARACH ANGREN and ROTTING CHRIST concert at Lee’s Palace in Toronto last night, as part of their amazing Under Our Black Cult North American Tour 2023, mainly due to the shitty weather that has been punishing the United States and Canada in the past month or so. If you go to Gaerea’s official Facebook page, you’ll see they had to miss a few concerts in the US due to the nasty weather conditions, and after the heavy snow storm that hit Toronto this Friday I wasn’t sure if the concert was actually going to happen. Fortunately for all of us Torontonians who headed to a sold-out Lee’s Palace last night the weather was perfect for this time of the year (it wasn’t even that cold), and not only the four bands played, but they all kicked some serious ass.
My only complaint is once again related to the time the doors opened, already after 7pm, and the time Portuguese Black Metal entity GAEREA hit the stage, at 7:30pm sharp. This means a lot of people who were still lining up outside of the venue until around 7:40pm missed the first few minutes from Gaerea’s performance. Why can’t the venues open their doors at least one hour prior to the first band, and come up with a faster way to check ID’s and tickets so that fans can enjoy all bands they paid some good money to see? Anyway, Gaerea were phenomenal during their short but powerful concert, playing only songs from their 2022 opus Mirage such as Salve and Laude while their mysterious frontman kept mesmerizing us all with a unique performance that reminded me of a darkened mix of Iggy Pop and Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. It was a dark, atmospheric and evil performance by the quintet, and I can’t wait to see them return to Toronto in the near future.
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After a very quick break, it was time for American Melodic Black Metal horde UADA to pulverize our damned souls with one of the most atmospheric concerts I’ve seen in a while, playing long, intricate and visceral songs the likes of the title-track from their 2020 opus Djinn, plus The Purging Fire and Cult of a Dying Sun, with the strong smell of incense from the beginning of the show generating a captivating ambience for all fans at the venue. Jake Superchi was insane on vocals and guitar, headbanging manically while also growling like a beast for our total delight, while his band members, particularly drummer Josh Lovejoy, kept the music flowing majestically until the very last second. UADA are already gearing up for their first South American tour this October, which not only means those guys are becoming bigger and bigger in the metal scene, but also that if you live in one of the South American cities they’re visiting in a few months you can rest assured you’re in for a fantastic treat.
The Purging Fire
Snakes & Vultures
Cult of a Dying Sun
Black Autumn, White Spring
Jake Superchi – vocals, guitars
James Sloan – guitars
Nate Verschoor – bass
Josh Lovejoy – drums
The third opening act of the night, Dutch Symphonic Black Metal demons CARACH ANGREN, also brought forth an ass-kicking concert, perhaps not as detailed or melodic as Gaerea or UADA, but full of energy and absolutely phantasmagorical. Blending songs from all of their albums with their latest opus Franckensteina Strataemontanus, from 2020, the duo Seregor (aka Dennis Droomers, who’s by the way in a relationship with the stunning Sandie Gjørtz, the frontwoman for Danish Melodic Death Metal outfit Defacing God) and Ardek (aka Clemens Wijers), with the support of the butcher Bastiaan Boh on the guitars and Gabe Seeber on drums, delivered a very theatrical concert for the crowd in Toronto, inspiring the fans to ignite some circle pits and even a wall of death with their devilish music. The only thing that bothered me a lot was the lack of a bassist while Ardek had two keyboards, but as weird as it might look the band has a lot of chemistry onstage and you end up forgetting about that minor detail right after the first song.
Electronic Voice Phenomena
The Ghost of Raynham Hall
The Carriage Wheel Murder
Bitte Tötet Mich
A Strange Presence Near the Woods
Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log
Seregor – vocals, guitars
Ardek – keyboards, piano, orchestrations, backing vocals
Bastiaan Boh – guitars
Gabe Seeber – drums
It was around 10:20pm when the main attraction of the night, Greek Black Metal institution ROTTING CHRIST, showed Toronto once again why they’re one of the most important names in the history of extreme music, and will always be a reference to any metalhead who’s into the darkest side of metal. It’s beyond impressive how the iconic Mr. Sakis Tolis and his brother Themis Tolis are still so energetic on stage after so many decades on the road, hypnotizing the crowd and making every single one of their concerts simply memorable. In addition, I need to mention bassist Kostas Heliotis and guitarist Kostis Foukarakis also added their share of heaviness and electricity to the show, headbanging nonstop, interacting with the fans, and of course, playing all songs to perfection.
I was finally able to witness the guys playing songs form their awesome 2019 album The Herectics live, those being Fire, God and Fear and The Raven, and both were superb. However, their classics including the opening tune 666, Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy, Elthe Kyrie, In Yumen-Xibalba and Noctis Era were the most electrifying moments of the show as expected, generating intense, unstoppable mosh pits for the delight of everyone who decided to brave the storm that became the main pit. And how not to love Rotting Christ when they worship our buddy Satan by playing on the same night the songs Apage Satana, Societas Satanas, and the majestic Grandis Spiritus Diavolos? That was superb, and the energy flowing between the band and the crowd was insane.
Whenever the mighty Rotting Christ takes the city of Toronto by storm again, I’ll certainly be there. It’s one of those must-see shows by a band that loves what they do and that loves to witness their fans going mental during their live performances. The temperature inside Lee’s Palace was so hot that some people had to wait after the show was over for their shirts to dry from all their sweat before enduring another cold winter night in Toronto, but after all was said and done everything was totally worth it. Sakis is an unstoppable metal beast, the city of Toronto loves him, and hopefully next time he’s in the city with his horde they can play in front of an even bigger crowd. And until that day comes, we should all keep these words deep inside our herectic hearts… NON SERVIAM!
Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy
Fire, God and Fear
Grandis Spiritus Diavolos
Sakis Tolis – vocals, guitars
Kostis Foukarakis – guitars, backing vocals
Kostas Heliotis – bass, backing vocals
Themis Tolis – drums