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(Live Review) ROTTING CHRIST + Support - Reggie's Rockhouse, Chicago (3/3/23)

Written by: The Beard & Little Johnny

Tonight loyal readers and followers of metal, after two uneventful months in seclusion, the 2023 concert series finally begins with show number one, and bands one-to-five performing from Reggie’s Rockhouse in Chicago.

Headlining tonight’s five band bill: Greek black metal legends, Rotting Christ with support from ... Carach Angren Uada Garea Echo Primordium

Knowing that this was a sold out show, your intrepid reviewing team arrived early and dined at Reggie’s so we would have ample energy to make it through the hours of black metal chaos we were anticipating. The Beard had a Chorizo Burger with a Permanent Funeral IPA from 3-Floyds Brewery, while Little Johnny went with Chicken Wings and a Zombie Dust IPA (also from 3-Floyds.) Food was fair, but the beers were quite tasty.

We then awaited the doors opening to the venue, and based on the line snaking down the street in front of the building, this one was indeed going to be crowded.

Since The Beard did not have any magic press passes this time around, seating was a non-option as the very few seats in Reggie’s were taken in about the first six-seconds of the doors opening. So, faced with the knowledge that the Beard would be standing for about five plus hours, I didn’t hurry, and instead took the time to peruse the Rotting Christ merchandise (assuming I wouldn’t soon get that chance again since this Greek black metal band doesn’t often tour the United States).

After finding a t-shirt I liked and parting with thirty bucks to obtain it, I eyed the rapidly filling room and selected a spot on the right staircase allowing me a height over the standing crowd and a railing to lean on. Johnny, as expected made his way into the rapidly developing sardine can that was the main floor.

With bands tonight from Greece, Portugal, and the Netherlands, the crowd reflected a large ethnicity, and I could hear multiple languages being spoken. Still, there remains that metal camaraderie, and even when I wasn’t able to actually understand what was being said, it seemed to run the usual gamut of discussing bands and metal.

  • shop talk. I noticed from my elevated viewpoint that Johnny was over with a crowd of Greek guys apparently learning how to yell “Fuck Yeah” in Greek. It’s “Gamo Nai” for those that care.

Finally, the lights dimmed, and it was show time. First band up were local boys/lady Echo Primordium.

ECHO PRIMORIUM Four piece black metal act with semi-clear vocals and female lead. Pretty basic solid music, considering the show openers seldom get much in the way of lights and sound as the tech monkeys are usually still dialing in as they adjust to the filling room.

Singer Asce Echo had a sound vocally like a slowed down Quarthon from the Under the Sign of The Black Mark era. Songs were drawn from their Ex-Aether release. I enjoyed her vocals and especially the last number. Additional mention was the really solid drum work from Dave Cieck. The Beard awards a 77/100 to start.

GAREA (black metal from Portugal)

Masked and somewhat atmospheric, but at times intensely fast as well, Garea seemed

to blend Amorphis with Wolves in the Throne Room. Their music is both focused and

chaotic, entwined within each other. The Beard found it an interesting sound. Not

amazing, but it holds your attention.

Although hard to find in the swirling maelstrom of people, Johnny has started banging,

but no pits yet. The night is still early. There was a lot of fists pumping though.

The Beard awards Garea 78/100.


Masked and like a more formal black metal midnight, UADA HITS HARD and with

intense energy. This is a band that has already been around since their inception in

about 2014. Although they only have three releases in those eight years, this hard

working band has also garnered such noteworthy praises as being on both Kerrang's top

50 Metal Bands of the last decade, and Decibels 100 best albums of the last decade

lists. (Ed: Sorry, but they wouldn't make The Mighty Decibel's lists on either count!)

Their music and imagery speak of mysticism and magic rather than just the traditional

“Hail Satan” black metal material. Music off their latest release Djinn mixes pacing and

gives it (and them) a more listenable edge which the Beard enjoyed. (Ed: Melechesh's Djinn ... well there's an album that would make a best-of list in The Mighty Decibel's eyes!)

UADA seems to have captured a style that puts them equally at home with traditional black metal, or

fringe black/death like Sylvaine or Cult of Fire. Overall, The Beard is impressed with their work. Johnny liked the fast parts and now he wants a black metal robe of his own.

UADA gave a harsh, yet definitely nuanced, performance and garners an 86/100. Only

vocal quality kept them under 90.


While The Beard does appreciate the symphonic additions, and the concept album

writings of this Dutch band, as well as the corpse paint commitment to cause, the rest,

(musically), is a step down for me after UADA, which reflects the perils of “slotting” (i.e.

sometimes when you follow a great set, yours is lessened).

On the other hand, they did get a pit going so Johnny was happy.

Carach Angren, as a band name might ring a bell for devoted LOTR Tolkien fans as it

is Elvish Sindarin for “Jaws of Iron” and refers to a pass of mountains that leads into

Mordor. During their fifteen years of existence this band has released six full length

albums (mostly of the concept variety covering tales of ghosts and horror). There is a

definite effort and (once again) commitment to cause from singer Dennis Droomers and

keyboardist Clemons Wijers, but in seeing them for the first time, the Beard missed out

on the concept aspect, and found them more of a lightning fast double bass attack of

blackness with some keys for atmospheric enhancements. Given time and effort, I think

I could get into their studio pressings, but this particular set, (especially coming after

UADA’s strong showing), only nets a slightly above average 77/100.


Where the support acts upped the ante on the evil with a capital E, Rotting Christ

reminds us all that they are simply a talented band that sing some evil songs. Don’t get

me wrong, I don’t know anything of their personal philosophy, maybe they eat calf

hearts after the show, but during it they are some talented musicians who write well-

structured songs that are full and layered.

Having been around for thirty-five years and having released thirteen full length albums,

founding members and brothers Sakis Tolis (vocals) and Themis Tolis (drums) continue

to bring the bands ever-evolving style which might be best defined as an amalgamation

of black and goth metal. Adding guitarist Kostis Foukarakis in 2019 was a brilliant

stroke as his skills, look, and stage presence enhance the band in every factor. Finally,

bassist and backing vocalist Kostas Heliotis gives the headbanging hair tossing and

totally into the music lifeline for the rest to feed off of.

Although the vocals are pretty indecipherable, (which costs them a few points), The

Beard enjoyed their set very much.

Johnny rocked out as much as he could given everyone was packed in like sardines.

Despite the tightness, several pits did appear and twice (from my safe view on the

stairs), I witnessed the “exit with extreme prejudice” move by security. At one point I

even watched security help a guy limp out with what looked to be a blown right knee.

This is why The Beard stays out of the fray and in a safe space. As I’m chasing a Heinz

ketchup bottle here in 2023…(Means I’m going to be 57 this year), I have clearly

recognized PITS are for the young and crazy. This would of course mean Little Johnny

who also thoroughly enjoyed getting back on the thrashing, banging moshing horse and

as we walked to the car for the return trip home mentioned “Some chick liked my cap.”

All in all, a great first show, and kick off to The Beard and Little Johnny’s 2023 concert


Rotting Christ is awarded a strong early 90/100.

Remember, you can find footage of all the Beard and Little Johnny shows on my TikTok

page. Just search #thebeardandlittlejohnny.

Until next week when the metal bus rides again, from The Beard and Little Johnny…” Horns Up!"


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