After leaving me with a rather boring note in Rituals, it’s good to see that these guys are finally putting the elements back into the band which made them most notable, at least in my opinion. Namely, the fact that strong melodies and even some rather awesomely unexpected guitar solos take place on this record, making it more than just a metallic display of Grecian theatrics. There’s even a slight sense of depression in these aforementioned melodies, which brings me back to the level of A Dead Poem or Triarchy Of The Lost Lovers.
The Heretics is not a complete throwback however, with grandiosity still barreling at a full-frontal pace towards the listener. I realize that this level of grandiosity is now a part of who they are, and that they want to be this sort of “epic rock band” because they’ve sold very well in Greece, but at the same time, I wish they’d tone it down a little on all the pomp for once.
But then again, I still have those older albums to listen to if I’ve ever a hankering for the way that things were. Rotting Christ are obviously not that kind of band anymore, and I doubt that they ever will be again. The same can be said about their black metal beginnings, which are now a thing of past, except for Sakis Tolis’s vocal rasps. Even then, this is about as far from black metal as you can get and feels more like a call to battle in ancient times than it does frost-covered monuments of ice and snow.
Unfortunately, Heretics is a rather short listen, even though it successfully melds together much of what has made the band great over these years. Honestly, I have to compliment Rotting Christ for their decision to bring back the sullen melody lines that I recall (from what now feels like a generation ago), and I would hope that this isn’t the last time we’ll hear these atmospheres utilized.
“The Raven” really cements what this band used to be, just with a little more firepower than I’d have been used to pre-Theogonia. That’s not entirely a bad thing, since it seems like the band is getting another shot at mainstream notoriety despite their thirty years of performance.
Unfortunately, this also gives listeners that have been arguably living under a rock a chance to express their displeasure for a band that apparently “will never get anywhere with a name like that.” I guess it’s time for me to tell these Greek legends that they’ll have to hang it up according to a fellow who proves to me in words that the genre is taking a real plunge in the mainstream altogether.
It is a terrible shame that music with such class and precision as these titans have assembled for almost as long as I’ve been alive is still considered a sort of “weird, underground art,” and while people continue to drown themselves with cookie-cutter rock acts and auto-tuned hip hop music, at least there will bse something of brilliance in which to soak in and truly explore. Although The Heretics is a bit of a light listen, it is one that you will want to come back to repeatedly. There’s real substance here, and I can’t say that about many mainstream artists these days, though perhaps I am just getting old.