Rotting Christ is one of my favorite bands, and also one of my favorite bands to namedrop into a conversation because their name is so patently offensive that the reactions, especially in a small Christian community, are utterly hilarious.
Early in their career, Rotting Christ was actually a grindcore band. They only put out a couple of demos in that style before moving on to their more familiar black metal sound. As these demos are rare, I have never heard them and cannot comment on the quality.
Rotting Christ was a part of the second wave of black metal, and one of the elite acts in Greece. Greek black metal, often referred to as Hellenic black metal, had more of an emphasis on atmosphere than their Norwegian and Swedish counterparts. It was not as well-known as the other scenes, but produced some very fine bands as well; along with Rotting Christ, there was Varathron, Septicflesh, Necromantia, Thou Art Lord, and Kawir.
At this time, Rotting Christ released several terrific records. The 1991 EP Passage to Arcturo is one of the first well-known Rotting Christ albums. The sound was raw but did contain the atmosphere that would later become known as Rotting Christ's trademark. The sound would be perfected on Thy Mighty Contract, the band's official full length debut in 1993, and further smoothed out on Non Serviam, their 1994 sophomore album.
Soon thereafter, Rotting Christ began experimenting with some Moonspell-like gothic elements which would come to dominate their sound on their 1997 album A Dead Poem. This is one of their least popular releases with fans, yet it contains some of their catchiest songs such as "Among Two Storms." Rather than continue in this style though, the band took a step back and incorporated the gothic elements into their previous black metal style.
The two styles melded seemlessly, the band has released amazing album after amazing album, culminating in the fantastic Theogonia. Easily my favorite album of 2007, the band has paid homage to their roots by incorporating Greek rhythms and instrumentation into their music while remaining firmly entrenched in their metal style.
I urge the reader not to be turned off by the band's name. This is a truly great band that should not be ignored.