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Rotting Christ - The Heretics

Label: Season of Mist
Format: Download
Released: 2019
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9/10

“The Heretics” is a work of ruinous beauty.
The shame of it is, most of the conversation around this release will focus on the band name and its associated controversies, instead of just how damn good the music is. This stigma (no pun intended!) seems to have been the case across their entire 13-album career, and will certainly follow them til the end. And of course, this is the kind of attention they’ve courted, so no feeling sorry for anyone - - but it’s a shame there’s this obstacle to overcome. Anyway, I won’t contribute any further to that noise. Let’s just talk about the wealth of great music to be found on Rotting Christ’s 2019 full-length, “The Heretics.”


The dark ambience of the record is like a bottomless black well of dream and nightmare, murky depths full of riches and treasures to be plumbed and dived. This is every bit as heavy as you expect, but also imbued with great depth and soul, plodding along at tempos that keep you invested and interested, . The lead male vocals are gritty and harsh, but not to the point of making you squint, and their accessory male choir and occasional female voices add grandeur and epic, gothic beauty to the whole thing. They're closer to Type O Negative than to Slayer.
The song “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (no, not that “Hallowed Be Thy Name”) is just gorgeous and haunting. When this comes on, everything else will become secondary. It may be the strongest piece on the album, but opening track, “In the Name of God” is also a contender, as is “Dies Irae.”
With the Latin chantings, the choirs, lyrics, and tone, “The Heretics” is absolutely steeped in Judeo-Christian imagery, but it adds gravitas and grandeur. Rotting Christ are serious, and their message appears to be more about avoiding the pitfalls and dangers of organized religion, than about shock value sacrilege, to stir up the rosary clutchers. This theory is backed up by lines like, “My own mind is my own church" (a Thomas Paine quote) and “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities” (Voltaire).
At the end of the day, it’s always about the musical quality for me, and “The Heretics” is quality of the highest degree.

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