It’s that time of the year when the nights last forever and the days flash by within the blink of an eye, the weather is bitter and coupled with what seems to be a permanent drizzle of rain. The trees are bare and the streets empty, I need something to transport me away from my home office and frozen nips, when up pops The Shaman with some blackened death metal out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Courtesy of Heretical Sect with their debut record Rapturous Flesh Consumed, a tempestuous storm of black metal and death metal strewn together with a spattering of doom to create a refined yet ferocious maelstrom. This monster record is out now via Redefining Darkness Records and Gilead Media.
It’s 2020, it’s a debut record and it’s extreme metal… using my dyslexia ridden brain, that equation can only equate to gold. This year has had so many stunning debut’s from groups like Bedsore, Disembowel and Warp Chamber. Will Heretical Sect buck the trend?… In all honesty, I wasn’t aware of the group before picking this up, but as you all know I’m a sucker for a killer album cover and boy has Rapturous Flesh Consumed delivered. Zac Scheinbaum was specifically commissioned to adorn the record to convey the theme of ‘ghastly religious persecution’ and I think we can all agree it’s a wonderful piece of art, really striking and an immediate introduction into the hellish torment that lays inside.
With lyrical themes exploring religious persecution, murder, disease and atrocities in their native American Southwest, the record is centered around Salvador de Guerra, a religious zealot and Catholic Padre, infamous for mutilation and torture. The album explores Guerra’s insanity and postulates some fictional reasoning behind his actions, seeing him obsess over the relationships between Christianity and native traditional beliefs. The records lyrics are deep, dark, full of anguish and superbly written. They offer a unique journey into an area of the world that isn’t often focused on within the extreme metal world. Sometimes the lyrics in extreme metal can take a back seat to the music, but thankfully not here. They’re at the very front of the carnage, just where they should be.
tremolos are mixed in with sweeping death metal riffs and crushing doom filled portions…
The album kicks off in the best way possible, blasting the frost away with shattering drums and a Tom G Warrior ‘Oughh!’. Tremolo picked guitars drape over the carnage as Heretical Sect set about telling their atrocity filled story. Although some may title this a black metal record, it’s so much more than that. The tremolos are mixed in with sweeping death metal riffs and crushing doom filled portions that come together to create this whirlwind of blackened death laid out before us. What’s more is the production is surprisingly clean, which is usually a negative for a record like this, as I usually want it gritty and dirty, but like the artwork, the striking yet clean production works really well, tying up the performances to create a more polished piece than what you would usually expect. This is best shown with tracks like Resurrection Sky, it’s full of character and punch. The guys at Cauliflower Audio did a great job.
As the album progresses, you get more and more dragged into it. It’s really a surprise when the ‘silence’ of the record hits you. I think this is predominantly because of the well placed variations in sound Heretical Sect throw into the maelstrom. It’s full of ominous atmospheres, tinged with the sounds of the American West, almost like the riffs and torturous themes are covered in a thin veil of dust from the Chihuahuan Desert, not too in your face, but just enough to add that truly unique flavour their sound. The vicious performance from vocalist Warg really help to push this fear inducing atmosphere. His cavernous, corrosive, aggressive and varied performance is an excellent accompaniment to their sound and my highlight of the record, especially on tracks Baptismal Rot And Ash and Pit Abominations.
I could bang on all day about how surprised I was by this record, and how annoyed I am that I didn’t know about Heretical Sect before their debut full-length! So, to answer my question earlier, does Rapturous Flesh Consumed buck the trend of 2020 being the year of the debut? (Patent Pending) Well if you’ve got this far then you’ll already know that it certainly hasn’t. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable listen from start to finish and one that I’m sure will be getting a lot of attention, and quite rightly so. So grab your spurs, bull pin tie, stetson and stick on a fresh layer of corpse paint, sit back and let Heretical Sect blow you to smithereens.
Scribed by: Matt Alexander