HERETICAL SECT - RAPTUROUS FLESH CONSUMED
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!
Heretical Sect are a somewhat mysterious black metal outfit from the Southwest of the United States. Pretty much anonymous and low-profile and with only one underground EP to their name the charmingly titled Rapturous Flesh Consumed is their full length debut release, and is largely a grim homage to early 1990s black metal and, to a slightly lesser extent, death gore metal from the same era. Whereas organic rawness tended to be the trademark sound of that period, Heretical Sect instead employ a tighter, more exact delivery albeit with a production that evokes an atmosphere that is at once claustrophobic, echoey, and temple-like. Moreover, while there is no shortage of the pre-requisite battery of vintage freezing black metal riffs and clattering blast beats, Heretical Sect add a textured dimension with chilling choral and droning layers that provide an unsettling ceremonial vibe.
Heretical Sect throw a lot into the mix, too. The ten minute Baptismal Rot and Ash is a winding sinister homily to grief and malice that tries everything from slow ritualistic soundscapes to rattling, charged blasts and all sorts of demented vocal contortions. All the same tricks are compacted down into the likes of The Depths of Weeping Infinity which whip up the tempo a good bit with windswept savagery. Across the album buzzaw frenetic riffing interchanges with breakdowns into doom dirges and back again, possessed solos and tremolos erupt with little build-up or bridging while Resurrection Sky even acts as several minutes of ritualistic ambience. The band's strongest hand, however, perhaps lies in their knack of evoking sheer labyrinthine atmosphere where slower, panoramic vistas conjure an unnerving metaphysical and otherworldly quality. During these passages, the album reaches its most vividly bleak and profoundly sinister.
Rapturous Flesh Consumed does little in the way of reinvention but is blazing with conviction. This baleful melee encompasses all the pertinent blackened chords and rattling blast beats of the day - sometimes songs changes tack several times, verging on unruliness - but the foreboding transcendentalism gives the atmosphere an anguished vastness.
Curiously, the subject matter cited as inspiration for this music is the Spanish conquest of the Americas in the Sixteenth Century, with particular focus on the experience of the American Southwest from where the band originate. Decimating nostalgic shibboleths of cowboy culture, the core sound is a grim homage to the infamous atrocities associated with colonial dominion and the brutal suppression and persecution of indigenous peoples, culture, and spiritual beliefs. It was, indubitably, a period that irreversibly and profoundly altered the complexion of the continent and is fairly original subject matter in extreme metal (though Iron Maiden got there first with Run to the Hills...). Metal bands are frequently culpable, however, of seeking out grisly subject matter to suit their imagery and music rather than the other way around: the musical style was going to be there as a pre-determined certainty and the artistic backstory is often stapled on as a convenient theme. Be that as it may, but what Heretical Sect do is connect authentically with the bloody, unglamorous and often overlooked early chapters of their region of the world. The tortured, hypnotic, ceremonialism of Rapturous Flesh Consumed radiates the horror of religious inquisition and the annihilation of long-held spiritual identification.