Sakis Tolis, On Thorns I Lay, Machiavellian God- concert review

Sakis Tolis is beyond doubt, one of the most emblematic creative forces of the metal scene. The frontman of Rotting Christ is a versatile artist, who proves to still...
Sakis afis concert

Sakis Tolis is beyond doubt, one of the most emblematic creative forces of the metal scene. The frontman of Rotting Christ is a versatile artist, who proves to still have something more to say. Even after thirteen full length albums with Rotting Christ, Sakis appears to have found a boost of creative inspiration. This is how Among the Fires of Hell must have come to life. Sakis’s first solo album was released last year and let’s hope it will not be the last. This album reminds us of early Rotting Christ albums, such as A Dead Poem or Sleep Of The Angels, even though it is more punchy here and there. 

All in all, this solo album deserved a tour of its own, even after more than one year from its release. Fortunately, Beyond the Void tour not only included Romania, but also we benefited from four concerts, in Cluj-Napoca, Bucharest, Iasi and Constanta. Other two bands opened each of those four shows: On Thorns I Lay from Greece and Machiavellian God from Romania. Final Step Production took upon themselves to organize these four shows and they did a great job, as always, with no delays or other problems. 

The second show in Romania took place on November 9th, in Quantic Pub, the best location in Bucharest for this kind of events.  

Machiavellian God went first on stage and they were amazing, which is no surprise, since we are talking about one of the best death/ doom- death metal band in Romania. The band members are all proficient and experienced musicians and Mihu, the vocalist, has gained a reputation for his heart felt, spine shivering interpretation. The guitar riffs were majestically performed, the drums were strong, fast and tight. This doesn’t come as a surprise from a drummer who’s been also playing black metal for more than a decade. 

Our only regret  was that  Machiavellian God only played a short setlist, with four songs from their debut album and two new ones, that will appear on their next record. Thus, they started with Aeon’s Dawn, the second song from the album Divine Flaw. Then, there was their most recently released single, The Burden Of Existence. This is definitely a song with a very strong message and it perfectly fits Mihu’s vocal register. Somehow, his whole being seems to resonate with this song and the result is amazing: I saw people in the audience with tears in their eyes. 

The following three songs on the setlist highlight the virtuosity of the guitar players: Iter Incipit, Iter Prosequitur and Iter Finem. The band finished the show with a new song, one they had played live only two times before, entitled Shadows and Chains. There will be a video for this song soon, as the band announced. Machiavellian God is also working on recording the new album, so there will be new music coming from them soon!

The next act of the evening was On Thorns I Lay, a Greek band that underwent a lot of changes in style during their long standing activity. Since their foundation in 1992, the group has gone through different stylistic facets throughout its career, starting with brutal death metal, then transitioning to a blackened death doom symphonic style, embracing atmospheric doom-death in their early albums and later gothic metal with their subsequent albums.

On Thorns I Lay is among the bands of the first major gothic doom wave that systematized the principle of contrasting vocals. In the early 2000s, they shifted towards a more stripped-down and introspective rock-metal style. The band went on hiatus in 2006, for almost ten years. They reunited in 2015 and gradually returned to the doom-death style of their beginnings. They have released four albums since their reunion, the most recent of which was released in October 2023.

Their setlist consisted of seven songs. They started with Fallen From Grace, a powerful song well executed. The sonic attack went on with Newborn Skies, Misos, The Song of Sirens then Olethros Pt.I, Erevos and it ended with Thorns of Fire. There was not only technicality which impressed, but also the theatricality of the vocalist. The singer often fell to his knees and let himself fall prey to feelings that he transmitted to the audience. The scenography was effective and went well together with the music! All in all, On Thorns I Lay put up a show that won’t be easy to forget! 

Afterwards, when Sakis Tolis went on stage, the crowd went wild! Even though they’ve recently seen him on the same stage, less than two months ago, with Rotting Christ, at Metal Gates Festival. This time Sakis was there with a new lineup, playing some of the songs from his solo album. He also performed five Rotting Christ songs, some of them never interpreted live by the band. The highlight of the setlist, at least for the Romanian public, was the interpretation of Cine iubeste si lasa, a cover of Maria Tanase’s well known song.

From the debut album, Sakis Tolis played My Salvation, Among the Fires of Hell, The Dawn of a New Age, We the Fallen Angels, Ad Astra Live With Passion – Die With Honour, but a bit heavier than on the album. Afterwards he played a Daemonia Nymphe cover, Nocturnal Hekate, which was performed in a different style than the original. Next was Cine iubește și lasa, then five Rotting Christ songs: Thanatou, …Pir Threontai, Holy Mountain, Ira Incensus and ended the show with Non Serviam

The show was great, the audience were headbanging most of the time and the artists were long acclaimed. Definitely one of the best concerts recently!

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