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(The Lockdown Diaries)
by Dayal Patterson, 2020. 
Jim in the Greek mountains, 2020. Photo: Kostas Ypsilos.

One of the three founding members of Rotting Christ, Jim Mutilator was an integral part of the band until 1996, to the extent that he was effectively the leader/spokesperson for the group during some periods. His involvement in the Greek metal scene didn’t end there of course, and not only was he a founding member of black metal band Varathron and underground fanzine Genital Necrosis, but he also created the iconic and long-running record store Metal Era, as well as the equally famous (though distinctly less long-lived) Storm Studio, where most of Greece’s most important underground metal bands recorded in the mid-90s.

Following a hiatus from the scene, undertaken after selling Metal Era in the early 2010s, Jim has returned and is once again impressively active. Contributing heavily to 2018 book Non Serviam: The Official Story Of Rotting Christ, he also guested on Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia, the 2019 opus by Brazilian masters Mystifer. The same year would see him officially join Greek black metal veterans Medieval Demon on bass, as well as finally announcing his own outfit, Yoth Iria, a project he had been quietly working on for some years.

Featuring George Zacharopoulos (aka The Magus, aka Morbid, aka Magus Wampyr Daoloth of Necromantia, Thou Art Lord, and of course Rotting Christ) on vocals, Yoth Iria’s first release, the Under His Sway EP, also utilises the talents of another Rotting Christ alumni, namely George Emmanuel of Lucifer’s Child and Pentagram Studios. In fact, the launch events for this release were due to take place a few weeks ago, coinciding with a book signing for the Non Serviam book. With the current pandemic making such happenings impossible, we instead caught up from our respective lockdown HQs…

Rotting Christ 1991: Jim (centre) with the Tolis brothers.

Dayal Patterson: Hello again brother – tell us first, where are you speaking from today?

Jim Mutilator: “At the moment I am back at my village in the Pindus mountains, waiting for the quarantine to come to an end.”

How is it there at the moment? Are there many other people in the village?

“We are exactly 15 people here. It’s a totally isolated place, so we can be as free as we were before Covid. But of course we are not in direct contact with each other. Actually the average age of people here is nearly 80.”

Really, just 15 of you? Very different to life in Athens then…

“Exactly. Only 15 people live here at the moment and of course it’s a totally different way of life compared to Athens or the other big cities. We are surrounded by nature.”

How has the lockdown changed your plans with Yoth Iria? What did you have to cancel or postpone?

“As we are a new band we haven’t faced anything going dramatically upside-down, except the cancellation of a few events concerning the presentation of our Under His Sway EP, like the ones at Athens and Volos which you were coming to.”

Are you missing Athens at all?

“Not really, as I spent all my life in Athens, at least until 2014. Nowadays I have found a new house there and after quarantine is over I will be returning to Athens for permanent living.”

Do you prefer to be in the city or in the village overall?

“I prefer to be in nature, but I’ve got my work and it can’t go on from my village.”

Jim and Sakis at Metal Era, 2018.
Photo: Dayal Patterson

When we visited your old record store I was struck by how all the guys from the neighbouring book and food stores were so happy to see you again. Do you ever miss the days of working in the city centre at Metal Era?

“To be honest not. I don’t like this kind of business and I don’t want to be connected with trading again. The music industry is under big pressure and of course the reason is the internet. But from the other side, the internet helps bands to make their music easier known to audiences all over the world.

I’m really impressed how many record stores Athens still has, especially those leaning toward rock and metal music. In London we have two stores that stock some metal shirts and vinyl, and London is a much bigger city.

“Yeah this is also very interesting and strange at the same time, as there are around six metal stores in Athens and five or six more occupied with metal merchandise. Also there are some good stores in Thessaloniki. It’s another strange thing concerning Greece [laughs].”

How was it running your shop back in the day? Who worked with you that readers might know, in terms of musicians?

“The shop really made great business for ten years. For example in 2002 we were taking in an amount of 1000 euros per day. In the beginning it was me Sakis and Takis, the first drummer of Thou Art Lord, that were running the shop. After there were a lot more people who came to work with me.

Funny to think that Greek black metal fans could come to the shop and find two of the three founding members of Rotting Christ working in the shop…

“Yeah this is true. It was a place for fans come and meet us and have big conversations and sometimes a lot of drinking.”

The village you are in currently, is this where your parents lived before they moved to Athens?

“My mother’s place. Actually my father abandoned me after I was born. I guess I was too Satanic for him [laughs].”

So this is the village that the Tolis family also came from?

“Yes. Actually it is the place of their father, as their mother is from another village, about five kilometres from here. But their mother’s village is a ghost village now, as it was abandoned by its people in the late 60s, for unknown reasons. The last time I visited it was amazing – some ruined houses and only snakes, bears and wolves living there.”

Rotting Christ mid-90s line-up, from left to right: Morbid, Jim, Sakis and Themis.

Is it coincidence then that the parents of the founding members of Rotting Christ both came from the same area, or did your families know each other before you guys were born in Athens?

“My mother and their father grew up together in our village. And actually they moved all together to Athens in the late 60s.”

And so these villages were basically abandoned at that point? How many people would have been in that village in the 50s or 60s for instance?

“If I’m correct, it would have been about 150 to 200 people. Our villages were destroyed by Nazis but the people rebuilt them.”

That’s pretty crazy – it must have been strange for anyone that decided to stay in the village when everyone migrated to the capital.

“Yeah that’s true. In the mid-60s almost everyone migrated to Athens and a few others to Germany, Canada and Australia.”

How are you keeping yourself busy at the moment? Are you able to work on Yoth Iria with Magus via the internet or has work on the band stopped for now?

The Magus and Jim Mutilator. Photo: Dayal Patterson.
“To be honest, I have a really nice home studio here and I spend a lot of hours daily practicing and working on new ideas. And yes, I have completed two more tracks and it seems that they will be included on our upcoming album as Magus really likes them.”

How many Yoth Iria tracks, not including the two original songs on the EP, are completed now in terms of writing?

“There are 14 more tracks and some more ideas for upcoming tracks. I must tell you that the tracks of the EP will not be included on the full album. We keep them only for the mini.”

Who is taking care of the lyrics for the band?

“I wrote all the lyrics for the EP, but The Magus asked to also write some lyrics and of course that was very okay and helpful for me. So on the upcoming album half the lyrics are from me, half are from The Magus.”

Can you tell us a bit about the themes dealt with in the lyrics?

“My lyrics are totally occupied with occultism and magic as a way of life. By that I mean philosophical magic that helps people to improve themselves [and rise to] a higher spiritual level, and makes sure that we face all creations of mother nature with true respect. As a further explanation of the meaning I can say like this: if each of us work personally with our own self, we will create a better world. Of course my lyrics are against all kinds of oppression, as my personal view is man should be free without fear. And of course they are against religion.”

Your lyrics for Rotting Christ were also very preoccupied with the occult – is this something that has always been part of your life and how has your outlook evolved would you say?

“Yeah I’m interested in occult and magic since I was a little child. I have been reading books about occultism since the mid-80s. Especially Aleister Crowley always had a big impact on my way of thinking and acting. Also the same goes for such high minds as John Dee, Leonardo Da Vinci and Aristotle. For me magic is something normal as everything around us is connected with magic. That is the reason I’ve written all my thoughts, including practical themes, in a book.”

Which we will talk about more in the future I’m sure. But sticking with Yoth Iria for now, were you surprised at how good the reaction to the EP was? I’ve only seen good reviews to date...

“Actually most of the people like our EP, but of course they need to listen to more tracks. Of course I’m happy, but still I’ve got to work harder and harder.”

Will you be using any of the old songs you wrote and sent me during the creation of the Non Serviam book, such as ‘Splendour Of The Sun’ and ‘In The Tongue Of Birds’?

“Both of these songs will be included. They are already recorded in fact.”

At Pentagram?

“Yes of course.”

How did you find it working at Pentagram? I really enjoyed visiting and recording there – it’s a very unusual setting, this abandoned building in an rundown neighbourhood by the docks.

“This studio is a great place and I feel like home. It’s located in Piraeus next to the train station and from its balcony you can see all of Athens from the one side and the sea from the other. There are squatters and so on in the neighbourhood, but they are not criminals or dangerous. Just poor people.”

How has working with George Emmanuel shaped Yoth Iria would you say?

“I consider George Emmanuel as a very genius man. Not only as a musician, but as a producer. He only needs a word to understand what you exactly need.”

George Emmanuel behind the desk at his studio, 2018. Photo: Dayal Patterson.

Did his production change the songs at all? The final songs on the EP definitely sounded heavier than the demo versions for example.

“Absolutely he did. Not only heavier but darker as well.”

Will George play on the forthcoming album as he did on the EP, or just produce this time?

“After the quarantine is over I will confirm a full line-up. I’ve talked to some guitarists, so we have to come to a decision soon as there are some live plans after the summer. John The Maelstrom will take care of the drums – he’s the one that plays the drums on the EP, and is also playing for Thou Art Lord. He is a very talented young drummer, but The Magus knows him better than me and he was the one that told me about him. Also he has his own band called Caedes Cruenta.”

How is it working with The Magus now compared to a quarter century ago when you were in Rotting Christ would you say?

“I must tell you that me and George Emmanuel were totally surprised how professional and good a musician The Magus is. He learned the tracks in two days and he came to the studio really well prepared. I think because we are both mature in our personalities nowadays our cooperation is really very good. Back in Rotting Christ we were really young people, we had different ideas and opinions so sometimes we had some arguments. But not today.”

You of course worked with him at Storm as well as in Rotting Christ – how did you divide the work back then?

“The Magus was our producer. Of course he added a lot of good ideas in the band but the main things in Rotting Christ were by Sakis, Themis and me. But The Magus was the main producer in almost every production back then, and I think he was the one who was mainly responsible for the distinctive Greek sound.”

We have just hit the 18 month anniversary of the aforementioned Non Serviam book, do you get much feedback on this tome, given that you are one of the main voices present within it?

“Yes – this book was a great experience and I really got strong feedback. But overall the most important part of it was that all these memories came back to me.”

Non Serviam book signing at Bowel Of Noise, Athens, 2018. Photo: Anthony Kaz.

What is your feeling about Greek black metal in 2020? Do you think the classic recordings of the 90s are now properly recognised worldwide and what do you think of the scene in Greece now in terms of active bands, venues and so on?

“I think that Greece is a country with a good tradition in black metal. And it still births great bands that capture the old feeling, but also still create their own style. It’s obvious that albums like [Rotting Christ’s] Thy Mighty Contract, Non Serviam, [Necromantia’s] Scarlet Evil Witching Black, [Varathron’s] His Majesty At The Swamp, have had a worldwide effect, having influence a lot of bands, and without any doubt they are historical monuments.”

Okay and lastly, what is confirmed for Yoth Iria for the future?

“We have a show with Mortem in October in Greece. Actually it will be our first live show and it’s great that we will share the scene with Mortem as we know them from the late 80s. More plans include possibly releasing our debut album in 2020 and more live shows around the world.

We have also had a wine dedicated to us! It is a very special dry red wine produced by the wine company Potsios for Yoth Iria. The company is going to release a heavy/death/black ‘compilation’ of biological wines, releasing about 6 bands per year – ours is a Cabernet Sauvignon.”

For more information on Yoth Iria visit:

Jim in Nea Ionia, the town in Athens where the band grew up, 1992.


(Official Rotting Christ merchandise is available HERE and various items relating to Greek black metal are available HERE