Rotting Christ - The Heretics

Rotting Christ The Heretics cover
Rotting Christ
The Heretics
Season of Mist
2019
6.5
After being chastised by a growing faction of people over lazy songwriting on their previous effort “Rituals” that seemed to put atmosphere before music, Rotting Christ decide to look back, at least as far back as “Theogonia” maybe, to try and invigorate themselves, moving forward.
 
With percussion that is reminiscent of those earlier albums that has more ethnic elements and with orthodox chants mixed in for good measure, opener “In the Name of God” repeats its chorus like a mantra over a nice riff, until it drives the point home.
 
“Vetry Zlye [Ветры Злые]” continues the recently established tradition of Rotting Christ to use languages not native to them in songs, with Irina Zybina of Грай providing vocals on the Russian chorus, in this rather epic, but somewhat monotonous track.
 
“Heaven and Hell and Fire” opens with a verse observed by Satan in John Milton’s Paradise Lost and mixes vintage Rotting Christ riffing (about the only good thing the band has to offer in my humble opinion) with the rather simplistic style of battery that the other Tolis brother is capable of. Of course, the accent and intonation might sounds exotic to some, but I can’t take any of it, or Christ’s words on the cross that are thrown in there for good measure nor the out of context quote by one of the founding fathers of the United States Thomas Paine, which closes the track very seriously, as they are used more for effect than to express some point that has any meaning or merit.
 
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” is a dark and brooding number that uses parts of the Lord’s Prayer, which it follows with Lex Talonis, the whole “Eye for An Eye” principle and then some William Shakespeare expert from “The Winter’s Tale” that praises Prometheus (which by the way also Greek black metallers Aherusia, did an awesome concept album, about). Not an Iron Maiden cover then (I’m sure, more will make this silly joke) or indeed the Lord’s Prayer, chant backwards just to be EVOL. Pretty boring though.
 
“Dies Irae” obviously quotes part of the “Requiem Mass”, in Latin and actually manages to create quite the foreboding atmosphere, mixing a neat riff with chants and the bands own interpretation of “Hell” in the afterlife.
 
“I Believe (Πιστεύω)”, is quoting Nikos Kazantzakis “Askitiki” (and not other works as mistakenly propegated in some reviews) and thus is spoken entirely in Greek; with some background vocals there to thicken it all up. With no disrespect, others have used the same passage before and using too many references or indeed one’s own language should be better left to scholars who could apply themselves properly to it. Here it’s once again done for effect and lacks substance.
 
“Fire God, and Fear” quotes Voltair and makes excellent use of pedal modulation, actually being one of the few songs I really enjoyed, along with “Dies Irae” and “The Sons of Hell” (which is a bonus).
 
“Voice of the Universe” is a weird mix of Latin, Arabic and English (both spoken by Melechesh Ashmedi of Melechesh) with Sakis only singing a chorus, concerning the Zoroastrian faith. It manages to sound odd and commanding with its monolithic riff and demented sounding Arabic verses… I think I like it, despite not being pretty straightforward and repetitive as fuck.
 
“The New Messiah” is mostly original, as it only quotes a single line from the Gospel according to Matthew, but it’s really hypnotic, with its repetitive and simplistic lyrics that question the fact that man seeks redemption from God through other men that appear as chosen ones/messiahs.
 
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” gets the Sakis “treatment”, a fate that I am sure it’s late author never contemplated while he was alive… over in all honesty much better riffs than his accented English. There’s also another person that is credited as Stelios Steele, who actually reads verses here and elsewhere on the album, who’s much closer to what you’d consider a native level speaker.
 
The Digital Edition and the Vinyl box set add two bonus tracks; “The Sons of Hell” is the former a rather riffy affair that actually builds on a traditional Greek dance motif, but sounds quite impressive nonetheless despite its limited musical and actual vocabulary. The latter is “Phobos”, a more stirring track mixing languages that sounds like something experimental from the “Theogonia”/”Aealo” era.
 
“Heretics” attempts to bridge the atmospheric approach with a healthy dose of the more tribal and ethnic style of recent RC output and is semi-successful in doing so, not sounding as pretentious as its predecessor but neither as forward thinking as the albums that came before that. Longtime fans will enjoy it, but it does very little for me, a person that only appreciates some of the band’s very early output for totally different reasons than most people do.