Rotting Christ have released their 13th studio album in The Heretics. The Heretics comes out via Season of Mist and is a dark and powerful slab of black metal.
The creative Greek metallers are, on lead vocals, rhythm guitars and keys we have Sakis Tolis and on drums, his brother Themmis Tolis. Both original founding members. They are joined by lead guitarist, George Emmanuel and bassist, Vagelis Karzis who both joined in 2012. Being such a multi layered band, all members add backing vocals as well.
Rotting Christ are a bit special. One of the most highly regarded bands operating in the black/death metal genre today reminded us all of their unequalled brilliance with the singles released from The Heretics. Fire God and Fear, Heaven & Hell & Fire and The Raven are more than just special. They are brilliant. Dark, creative, mesmerising and intense. It comes as no surprise then that The Heretics is equally brilliant.
Joining the three spectacular singles are 7 more songs bringing is up to ten tracks, or 44 minutes, of intimidating black metal that shows Rotting Christ are the band that lead the way. The band other black metal bands should aspire to be like. The Heretics is the album other bands should want to release. An album that stays fresh and exhilarating from the first note through to the last. Never stopping for breath, never taking it easy on a song. These are ten masterpieces.
Opening with In The Name of God, we head straight into creepy atmospherics and background chants with a spoken word intro that ends into dangerous darkness. A filthy tone on the guitars, loads of layers and punishing rhythm back up vocals that are delivered in a dark and menacing style backed by choirs. Drawn out melodic guitar lines offer moments of optimism peaking through the dark cloud but always retreat before it becomes light. Vetry Zlye sees the pace increase with speedy drums and a more guitar driven intro. The chorus is amazing, bringing in clean vocals alongside the dark heaviness. Verses bring in riffs that are to die for as the layers of choirs and orchestral instruments add a feeling of blackened grandiose to the song.
Hallowed Be Thy Name starts with slow drums and howling wind before an ominous bell chime jumps in alongside drums and darkened bass tones. It is delivered like a devilish hymn with inspiring guitar tones, choirs and menacing whispered vocals. The stuff of nightmares. Dies Irae brings in a crunching head banging riff with punchy drums and distorted riffing for a few bars, that fades for more rhythm and chanting then continues to alternate like that for most of the intro. When vocals start proper they come delivered with conviction and force. A chugging instrumental with a wicked guitar line will get every head banging. Basically you don’t have to listen to this but be within 10 metres of someone who is and you may find your head start involuntarily banging anyway.
I Believe starts with spoken word before the guitars and drums bring the death metal side of the band in. It’s ripping and furious as the drums blast relentlessly and the guitars fire out the notes of the riff at hyper speed. The Voice of Universe goes for a thick, chunky riff with plenty of atmosphere and mesmerising guitar lines. My favourite though is The New Messiah. This song is just brilliance. Utterly astonishing in it’s heaviness but meticulous crafting. The drums are intense, the guitars mix between speed riffing and enchanting solos. The vocals move through different tones and volumes with lashings of layered atmosphere. It is so damn good.
The Heretics as a whole is an intense experience. Like a shroud has fallen over you as you are solely lost in the music both aurally but also visually. The atmosphere built allows you to imagine being in a dark place, a ritual, a forest, Hell or occasionally a version of Heaven where Rotting Christ are the soundtrack to your journey. It places you right in the middle of the scenes they have created. You can, and will, get completely lost in this album. An album which can proudly sit as the best album of this year so far. Maybe the best overall because I can’t think how you possibly better this.
Grab a copy of The Heretics now at all the usual streaming platforms now. You can, and should, also get a physical copy of The Heretics now at Season of Mist by following the link. Keep up to date with Rotting Christ news at their website and on Facebook.
Rotting Christ have also been announced as the Thursday night headliner as 2019’s Bloodstock Festival. You won’t want to miss that! Grab your tickets from here.
The Heretics by Rotting Christ (Season of Mist)
The Final Score - 10/10