It was around the time Aealo came out that I found myself really immersing myself into the music of Greek death metal legends Rotting Christ, follow that album, their style has very much followed a similar path that they headed down, still containing elements, but stepped away slightly from the black metal sound they first began with more than 30 years ago. Last year saw the release of ‘Their Greatest Spells’, a massive collection of best of tracks spanning their career. A perfect start point for those that have yet to delve into the music of the Greek legends, and a fantastic warm up for what was coming.
2019 brings us ‘The Heretics’, 10 tracks of what has become that classically distinctive, signature sound of Rotting Christ. It coils itself like a snake around what its past few albums have become and grips tightly as it shifts out farther than they have without losing any integrity or depth, starting of with aptly named tracks that will have an outsider wince, ‘In the Name of God’ is extremely self descriptive, the follow on ‘Vetry Zlye’ however is the first jump out of the album, melodic, probably more melodic than anything previous and takes its influence from Slavic paganism and the power of mother nature. The title translates from Russian to ‘Winds Evil’, it has a beautiful sounding guest on the song in the form of Irena Sybina.
‘Heaven, Hell and Fire’ brings in the bacon with its sincerely dark theme, something that has really had them stand out in throughout their career in a famously religious country. Always thematic, driven and riding their creativity on the dark side, the same darkened vibes continue strongly with tracks ‘Dies Irae’, ‘I Believe’ (both strong contenders for the best tracks on the album!) and ‘Fire God and Fear’. ‘The Raven’ brings The Heretics to a close, it bothered me for a while until after a few listens and fresh ears let me hear it for what it is, and that is something that has the band spread its darkened wings.
It won’t do anything for some, but it is something special. That’s not even taking into account the lyrical content, using the great poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven from which the song takes its name to a whole new level. A fitting end to yet another, fitting, and fiery release from one of the premier blackened metal bands, Rotting Christ. Long may they continue.