There are bands that throughout their history developed their own sound, easily recognizable for those familiar with their discography, in this case a unique style of riffing and rhythm guitars. This is the case of Rotting Christ and others like Behemoth, Amorphis and Amon Amarth. “The Heretics”, the 13th album released by Rotting Christ, summarizes their legacy and adds new elements that keep the material exciting and fresh. The album is dark, mystical, sometimes epic and sometimes heavy. The fabulous artwork created by the Greek artist Maximos Manolis also needs to be highlighted.
The first song “In The Name Of God” includes an intro of Gregorian chants that immediately transmits the story that Tolis brothers envisioned. The second track is one of the most aggressive of this album. Here the highlight goes to the vocals, with a well achieved balance between Mr. Sakis and the guest Irina Zybina (vocalist of the Russian folk metal band GRAI). “Heaven and Hell and Fire” begins with Mr. Sakis declaiming a passage of “Book I of the poem Paradise Lost” of John Milton. The atmosphere in this song leads you to old monasteries and presents a gothic vibe like the one found in the “Sleep of the Angels” album. Dark and sorrow feelings are transmitted to the listener in this song and the same can be said for the “Dies Irae” track. “I Believe” is the music that comes closest to the early black metal days of the band. It includes very fast and repetitive drums, and the lyrics are extracted from the novel “The Last Temptation of Christ” by the writer Nikos Kazantzakis. This is also a special track as it is completely spoken in Greek by Mr. Sakis.
As the album progresses towards the end, it gains depth and the last 3 songs are the result of that. The track “The Voice of the Universe” includes the participation of another guest – Mr. Ashmedi from Melechesh. The album ends with the song “The Raven”, inspired by the poem with the same title by Edgar Alan Poe. After listening to the entire album I honestly don’t see what other song could be a more suitable end for this album.
This album presents a perfect balance between slow-tempo, mid-tempo, fast and aggressive songs. What stands out the most it’s the well accomplished construction of the songs and of the whole album. “The Heretics” is an ode to the critical thoughts towards religion. This was done in a similar way as the old time poets and novelists who dared to challenge the Church dogmas (the Heretics). This and the unmistakable music style of Rotting Christ allows this album to create a fully immersive atmosphere.
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