Rotting Christ's ongoing European tour came to a scary, screeching halt in Tbilisi, Georgia, last Thursday, April 12th, when officials briefly jailed two members of the Greek metal band on terrorist charges, ostensibly related to the outfit's controversial name.
Frontman Sakis Tolis took to their label Season of Mist's Facebook page to recount the weekend's drama. "After the regular document check at the border, my brother [Rotting Christ drummer Themis Tolis] and I were stopped by the police on our way out from the airport. After some minutes, we were ordered to follow police to another area of the airport, under the pretense of further questioning before entering the country. Instead, we had our passports and mobile phones taken away and were lead into a prison cell."
According to Sakis, he and his brother pressed the cops for the rationale behind their imprisonment to no avail. He says their lawyers informed the group later that they'd been placed on a list of "unwanted persons of national security" that identified the Tolis brothers as Satanists and terrorist suspects. "Without previous warning and no official reason, we found ourselves in jail, locked into a small and rather dirty cell, and without being permitted any contact to the outside world or legal representation or our embassy for 12 hours," recalls the frontman.
While the brothers Tolis bided their time in prison, the remaining members of Rotting Christ enlisted their local promoter to help find a workaround. The musicians were released that same day, performed their Georgian concert as scheduled and were able to continue their tour without incident. "We are extremely grateful to everybody involved in this process," says Tolis. "In the end, we were even able to perform our show and it turned out to be a fantastic night."
This isn't the first time Rotting Christ have landed in hot water over their name. During the 2000 Republican primaries, evangelical candidate Gary Bauer declared the group "anti-Catholic," prompting a direct response from the band shortly thereafter. Five years later, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine — also a born-again Christian — booted them off two metal festivals in Greece over similar concerns. Not that Tolis and friends give a fuck: "Despite the many shows that were, and still are, canceled, and the problems that occur with the distribution of our CDs, we kept this name," he told author Dayal Patterson in 2013. "We are still proud of it."