Rotting Christ

The Heretics

Written by: RUB on 15/02/2019 21:32:22

As menacing as their band name may be, this Greek four-piece plays a very different kind of black metal, which perhaps isn’t as extreme as some of their Norwegian peers for instance are known for. The sound of Rotting Christ is a grandiose and melodic brand of the extreme genre, where you sometimes find yourself nodding along to progressive passages rather than killing your neck in the throes of blastbeats. Don’t get me wrong — the band has still managed to showcase some devastating songs in their time, but they pack so much more into their tracks than mere extremity. As the group proved with their magnificent “Katá ton Daímona Eautoú” record in 2012, and most recently with “Rituals” in 2016, they have developed an impressive ability to create their own brand of mythological black metal, which tells tales, stories and folklore in many different languages, ranging from Latin and Ancient Greek to Mayan, Persian, and of course also English. Boasting an impressive 30 years of existence, they’re now back with their 13th full-length, and it would seem that little has changed in the universe of Rotting Christ.

Much controversy has surrounded Rotting Christ in the past, which might be understandable since their name is rather blasphemic. But instead of resorting to sacrificing virgins, wearing corpse paint, burning churches or some other stereotypical black metal nonsense, Rotting Christ are simply letting their music and lyrics stand on their own, and this definitely speaks to their advantage, as it makes them stand out and be truly unique. The lyrical universe revolves around Greek mythology, anti-Christianity and of course Satanism, but the entire soundscape is much more atmospheric, outstanding and progressive than what you might expect. A key element in their songs is the heavy drumming, which almost resembles some sort of theme to a ritualistic offering (as seen on “The Raven” or “The Voice of Universe”, for example). This helps set the atmosphere, and one can really feel how every song, and actually the entire album develops nicely throughout the span of the 48 minutes because of it.

Since I don’t speak Ancient Greek, Latin, Incan or any of the other many tongues Rotting Christ use in their music, it is hard for me to truly comprehend what every song is about (apart from the fact that it is anti-religious in pretty much every aspect). Nevertheless, this doesn’t hinder a complete appreciation of “The Heretics”. The soundscape is captivating and interesting in an extreme sense thanks to the harsh growls of frontman Sakis Tolis. But it is also musically very appealing given that the rhythmic section is so intense and brutal, yet also manages to sound even beautiful at times (see “Hallowed Be Thy Name” for a good example). Where Rotting Christ are at their best in my book is in their combining the extremity of black metal with grandiose, fresh and unique elements, with the marching drums, intense guitars, harsh growls and even some monk-like chanting at times producing a sound that is instantly recognisable as Rotting Christ’s. Both “In the Name of God” and especially “Fire God and Fear” are textbook examples of this special sound.

There is no doubt that Rotting Christ are a controversial band in their own right — just not in the manner their many religious critics make them out to be. Their brand of black metal is a unique display of the prowess and writing ability these Greeks possess, and they have managed once again to create a lyrical universe that really speaks to the listener in such a way that it leaves a truly lasting impression. It was with good reason I had such high hopes for this album it turns out, because everything I dared to hope for is present on “The Heretics”. It might not quite reach the excellence of “Katá ton Daímona Eautoú” but still, given that the entire album clearly tells a greater story about various mythological subjects and folklore (to the epic tune Rotting Christ is revered for), this could quite possibly end up on my next best-of-the-year list. To put it short: Rotting Christ have done it again!

Download: Fire God and Fear; In the Name of God; Heaven & Hell & Fire; The Raven; Hallowed Be Thy Name
For the fans of: Septicflesh, Moonspell, Melechesh, Negură Bunget
Listen: Facebook

Release date 15.02.2019
Season of Mist

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