Founded over 30 years in 1987 by brothers Sakis Tolis on Vocals, Guitars and Keys and Themis Tolis on drums, Rotting Christ began to turn heads with their brand of Blackened Death Metal, beginning with debut album Thy Mighty Contract which was released in 1993, and now The Heretics follows up the hugely successful 2016 release Rituals.
Continuing the evolution of the band, the Greek brothers are joined by George Emmanuel on lead guitar and Vengelis Karzis on bass as they begin this chapter into a more Atmospheric Dark Metal, with melodic tinges.
Opening the album is a what feels like a call to arms through narration prior to the drum march beginning. There is a feeling as the release begins that this is the way we will be directed, with choppy guitars, military style drumming and a combination of powerfully evil vocals and the more sermon style narrative.
On ‘Vetry Zlye’ the band are joined by Irina Zybina, as she provides a soaring melody to the chorus of this musically Black Metal sounding track, to create the atmospheric and a very grandiose sound. The narrated sermons continue to provide almost inspirational phrases and quotations, creating the feeling that this could be a concept album.
Musically, the guitars are both deep and twisted, whilst the solos and riffs are perfectly balanced to provide the feeling and elaborate emotions as the drums provide the constant, precise and crashing beats that the music is built upon. The pace goes back and forth, targeting the full range of tones and occasionally feels almost Funeral Doom like with a slow and purposeful ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ which also includes choral sections for added effect and atmosphere, providing an almost Gregorian chant feeling.
This is not a pure Black Metal album, in fact the majority is Atmospheric Metal which is heavily influenced by Black Metal both musically and in the subject matter, as anyone would expect from the band name. The tracks sound very detailed and the sound is very full as every beat, note and vocal feels planned and though out, in order that the complexities are pieced together perfectly.
From the first listen the album has grabbed me and has already been on a very heavy repeat and will continue to be so as this album feels like we are experiencing something very special. Rotting Christ may have been making music for some considerable years and released a number of incredible albums, however they should be very proud of this one, as their evolution continues, making great music also continues. I am certainly looking forward to hearing some of this album at Bloodstock Festival.
The Heretics is released February 15th 2019 via Season Of Mist.
1. In the name of God
2. Vetry Zlye (ВЕТРЫ ЗЛЫЕ)
3. Heaven & Hell & Fire
4. Hallowed be thy name
5. Dies Irae
6. I believe (ΠΙΣΤΕΥΩ)
7. Fire God and Fear
8. The Voice of the Universe *
9. The New Messiah
10. The Raven
Style: Atmospheric Dark Metal
Studio: Pentagram Studios (Athens, GR)
Producer: Sakis Tolis
Sound Engineer: George Emmanuel
Mix/studio: Jens Borgen, Fascination Street Studios (SE)
Irina Zybina (GRAI): Vocals on ‘Vetry Zlye’
Dayal Patterson: Intoning on ‘Fire God and Fear’
Ashmedi (MELECHESH): Vocals on ‘The Voice of the Universe’
Stratis Steele: Intoning on ‘The Raven’
Sakis Tolis: vocals, guitar, keys
Themis Tolis: drums
George Emmanuel: lead guitar
Vangelis Karzis: bass
CD deluxe collector’s edition box
LP gatefold in various colours
LP deluxe collector’s edition box