Rotting Christ are one of the premier extreme metal bands who have recently entered their fourth decade of being a band. The Greeks single-handedly spearheaded the black metal scene within their geographic region, and are one of the truly underrated underground metal acts in existence today.
Led by brothers vocalist/guitarist Sakis Tolis and drummer Themis Tolis since their inception in 1987, ‘The Heretics’ marks their thirteenth studio record. Unlucky number for some you might say? Not in this case. What we have here is a splendid amalgamation of melodic death metal spliced with extremity in all the right places which not only retains its underground feeling, but also gives the band a platform to go on to bigger and better things, even at this late stage in their career.
Opening track, ‘The Name Of God’, commences with a spoken word voiceover (the first of a few on this record) before bursting into life with a Behemoth-esque anthemic soundscape. The theatrical element to Rotting Christ‘s sound has always been on point, and it comes through here brilliantly along with impassioned screams placed in amongst the chorus to great effect.
The band aren’t afraid to steam ahead with full-on melody as ‘Vetry Zlye’ shows, while ‘Heaven And Hell And Fire’ showcases tribal twin guitar leads which sit at the forefront of the track. The higher-pitched melodies and squeals from the instrumentation are reminiscent of bands such as Wolfheart; Sakis‘ chanting vocals rolling in the background along with those aforementioned guitar harmonies resulting in a really catchy tone. Not entirely for black metal purists then, but the band’s sound has clearly matured over the course of time.
Some of the voiceover segments and operatic vocal chanting found through the album can veer a bit samey, although in general there’s a lot of uniqueness for the listener to be become entranced in. ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ strips back the pace, with sludgy guitar riffs lurching across the surface with intermittent speed picking breaking things up (before another of those spoken voiceover sections closes out the track), whereas ‘I Believe’ goes in completely the opposite direction with a speedy assault on the senses primarily voiced in the band’s local tongue.
Fuzzy guitars course through ‘Fire God And Fear’‘s droning sonics, ‘The Voice Of The Universe’ is the highlight of the record, with a relentless drumming performance from Themis giving a solid backbone to the track and creating a driving atmosphere combining brilliantly with the odd melodic refrain from the guitars, while closer ‘The Raven’ spills into a more gothic tone with a repeating riff filled with surprise and drama.
If you were a fan of their previous effort, 2015’s ‘Rituals’, then this is a continuation of that solid vein of form, with stunningly crafted extreme metal that makes the band sound as fresh as they were some 32 years ago.
After getting into alternative music during the mid 90s with the rise of nu-metal and pop-punk, I’ve gradually spread my interests far and wide and have a real love for metalcore, prog metal and tech metal. Amongst other things, I am a husband, father of two amazing kids, heavy metal DJ, and video game/book/nerd enthusiast!