Greece’s extreme metal band Rotting Christ simply don’t need any proper introductions. Since 1987, they were originally playing a style of grindcore with elements of black metal with essential albums including Thy Mighty Contract, Non Serviam and A Dead Poem are all considered to be masterpieces within their own craft. As years go by, they shifted their sound to a much more straightforward, mythological and occultist style of gothic metal with elements of melodic black metal but it still maintained the traditional Rotting Christ sound fans come to know and appreciate. Following up to 2016’s Rituals, The Heretics is a album that’s proven to be a masterful, well executed and most detailed pieces of music in a very longtime that defines the genre’s roots while holding their driving aggression.
Rotting Christ seems like one of the many black metal bands to have acquired good taste, transcending most in this genre; their peers still relying an all-out-attack by playing as fast as possible where they naturally involved themselves not as a band, but individuals as well. While their last several releases relied on uniquely raw and theatrical sound, The Heretics is a concept album about freethinkers and revolutionaries of enlightenment who have, through their payment in blood or at the cost of their own sanity, laid the foundations of modern free speech. While the album does continue to strive from their inspiration of Greek Mythology and Anti-Christianity themed lyricism, there’s Gregorian chants and multiple layered vocal styles help build an awesome atmosphere which is present throughout the record both beginning and latter including some symphonic build ups that brings a rather sinister, dynamic, clever and atmospheric touch to make you feel you’re living in a time during the old ages.
Rotting Christ continues their thunderous onslaught with their dark and demonic fusion of gothic and black metal. Overall, the formula is carried out excellently, starting with the musicianship. Firstly, the vocals are wondrously ranged, stretching from deathly whispers to monstrous growls and screams. They also include some unsettling female chants and singing that add to the album’s dark atmosphere, especially in tracks such as In The Name Of God, Hallowed By Thy Name, The Raven and The Voice Of The Universe. Lyrically, album is all based on the ancient mythology of a variety of cultures, including Mayans, Persians, Sumerians, and, of course, Greeks where they’re proud to share their heritage.
Honestly, the majority of the material on this album is reminiscent of Aealo, but this in no way detracts from the strength of the album. Aealo was a very strong release, but The Heretics is easily Rotting Christ’s best, if not most matured, well written and magnificently crafted album’s they’ve ever done since 2004’s Sanctus Diavolos. The Heretics by Rotting Christ serves as a harbinger of things to come for Rotting Christ. It has the signature Rotting Christ sound we associate the band with nowadays that they’ve come full circle. This album is a neat conglomeration of black, thrash, classical and to some extent also gothic metal. Truly one of the best releases of 2019!
Overall Score: 9.5/10
Review by Jake Butler