The masters of Greek black metal are back with their thirteenth full-length album. The history of Rotting Christ is now more than thirty years old and is studded with some masterpieces, excellent albums and other good but certainly not epochal ones. To this list belong substantially all the works that came after Theogonia, what I personally consider the real last and indisputable record of the band of the Tolis brothers. Over the years Sakis has commendably tried to make the sound more varied by inserting ethnic elements or even resorting to bold experimentation (see the collaboration with Diamanda Galas in Aealo), but this has led to the loss of a characteristic gift such as the gift of synthesis, usually exhibited through an essential but absolutely enthralling riffing. And so it was more than legitimate to think that The Heretics was above all a good pretext for Rotting Christ to undertake a new tour in the company of other champions of southern European metal like Moonspell, risking to be quickly archived in favour of the great works recorded at the turn of the century, but in reality it’s a work that is anything but dull and negligible, because at more than one juncture you can recognise the enveloping and corrosive traits of the best times, combined with other pleasant but mannered tracks made interesting by the use of psalmodising or reciting voices and lyrical references that are never banal. If it’s true that the freshness of the best years is now a memory and that the best things of the album in the end lead back to those patterns that those who love this band know by heart, it can not be denied that songs like In The Name Of God, Heaven And Hell And Fire, Fire God And Fear and The Raven are effective, engaging and able to put to fire and iron the places that will see the Greek band performing live in the near future. Considering the rumours that preceded the release of the work defining it as weak and lacking in reasons of interest, together with the fact that, at least for certain critics, there are bands with names (in the company of ours I would mention Dream Theater for example) that today, even if they rewrote the bible of metal, would receive negative reviews regardless, I was pleasantly surprised by The Heretics, which is certainly not an offence to consider a work worthy of the fame of Sakis and associates provided that one does not expect every time a new Non Serviam is released. On the other hand, the album tends to grow after each listening, and this is one of the symptoms that often prove to be indicative of the actual value of a record, and frankly, if that handful of songs that I mentioned had been written by another band probably it would be spoken of with much more emphasis, so in the face of opposing sides between those who will consider The Heretics a disappointment and others who will sing its praises forever, without wanting to make an easy exercise of cerchiobotism never as this time we can say that the truth lies exactly in the middle.
2019 – Season Of Mist