|Review: Rotting Christ - The Heretics|
Label: Season of Mist
Year released: 2019
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: February 24, 2019
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (6 Votes)
Achieving a songwriting peak in terms of mixing their unique form of melodic Black Metal with heavy focus on native instrumental in their last few works—especially on Rituals (2015)—Rotting Christ once again bets on blending aggressive with ethereal, brutal with atmospheric. The warlike veneer provided by the competent drumming of Themis Tolis and the quasi-Gregorian chants in the background illustrate this from the beginning with "In the Name of God", a song that feels like an introduction to a deeper, denser story. It is not, however, as the constant uses of rhythmic pace and instrumental repetition seen here are also present throughout the whole record.
When the Tolis brothers are at their evilest, which is when the band is more aggressive and raw like on "Vetry zlye (Ветры злые)" and "Dies Irae", is when the band is at its best. These are the moments where the old Rotting Christ surfaces and show glimpses of their initial nature, similar to that of fellow countrymen Varathron and Thou Art Lord.
Tracks like "Heaven and Hell and Fire" and "Fire God and Fear" transpire with a sorrowful, almost monastic atmosphere which will surely reach those who enjoy spectacular and epic moments. Those moments are too sugary for a Black Metal act, however, and with the melodic approach added to that, it becomes rather annoying in some moments; Rotting Christ have been doing this for a while now, so this doesn't come as a surprise, but I'll always expect more cruelty and less cheesiness in my daily Black Metal dose.
The best part of the album is the end portion with "The Voice of the Universe", follow-up "The New Messiah" and the magnificent closer "The Raven". These feel like denser, more destructive versions of a Moonspell of Amorphis song, especially closer "The Raven". With wonderful vocal lines and guitar leads, the rich, layered sound and the choice of songwriting are the perfect fit to end the album.
The tribal, ready-for-battle aura and the need to sound forever epic that surround Rotting Christ are both their strongest weapon and their Achilles heel. While the band strives in those moments where the iron is hot and their inner savagery combines perfectly with the operatic ideal, the constant urge to deliver the most grandiose experience possible tends to get bothersome and repetitive.
All in all, The Heretics is once again a good album by the Hellenic masters, but—as it is with most of their works from the past years on—it's an acquired taste.
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Interview with Sakis Tolis on January 20, 2013 (Interviewed by D "Chris" Carter)
Interview with Sakis Tolis (vocals, guitar) on March 11, 2010 (Interviewed by Michel Renaud)
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