Fills a gap in the black metal catalogue

Greece’s black metal titans Rotting Christ have been around through most of the scene’s ups and downs since the early 90s, resting on a formula that has seen them sitting in a familiar sounding rut for some time.

The early rumblings for this album seemed indicate that Rotting Christ was going to change up a little and give that formula a different kind of sheen in an attempt to bring back some lost interest amongst the black metal hordes.

From first listen, it has to be said that not a lot has changed. If anything, The Heretics feels like a culmination of the band’s previous four or five releases. Great lead and rhythm guitar work with a fairly consistent, direct, if at times plodding, mid-paced percussion underlay.

Things don’t start to get interesting until third track ‘Heaven & Hell & Fire’ where a choir makes the first of a few appearances, adding weight to the subject matter vocalist Sakis Tolis confronts clearly in the last passages, setting a lyrical scene for the rest of the album.

‘Dies Irae’, ‘I Believe’ and ‘Fire God and Fear’ slot perfectly together as the centrepiece of the album with just enough of the same old ingredients and a flourish of the newer choral vocals to keep the listener interested, with some great guitar work adding much needed polish right as ‘Fire God and Fear’ begins to plod a little too much.

Saving for a big finish, Rotting Christ have taken Edgar Allen Poe’s haunting literary prowess and set it to music with ‘The Raven’ adding the freshest elements of atmosphere as the band evoke the darkness of the original poem, stepping the furthest away from their well worn wheel house in years as it builds over layered guitar textures and Tolis’ heavy baritone voice seething through gritted teeth as he relays the darkness of the poem.

As a whole, this smacks of a band on cruise control. There are some interesting elements, but taken as a whole it is too similar too Rituals before it and Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού before that and so on across the spectrum of albums released since the early 2000s. Sure it will fill a gap in your black metal catalogue, but long term you will go back to the earlier albums.

  1. In The Name of God
  2. Vetry Zlye
  3. Heaven & Hell & Fire
  4. Hallowed Be Thy Name
  5. Dies Irae
  6. I Believe
  7. Fire God and Fear
  8. The Voice of Universe
  9. The New Messiah
  10. The Raven