It has been a long time in the making, but The Heretic Order are back with a bang with their third offering, III.
The Heretic Order – III (Massacre Records)
Release Date: 27 May 2022
The dawn of a new Heretic Order era brings a meaner, harder-hitting collection of songs to the coven table. Not that things were ever not heavy, you understand. It’s just that Ragnar has made a conscious decision to make this album as heavy as hell to infiltrate your twisted minds.
“This album is a mix of furious guitars and thunderous drums,” Ragnar told MetalTalk, “heralding a pack of faster, meaner and heavier songs than before that drip malignant venom into the listener’s consciousness.” After the first of many listens, it’s pretty obvious he’s got it spot on.
“III tackles a myriad of issues both old and modern,” Ragnar says, “from the topical ills of world pollution, disease, human greed and the corruption of religion, the Illuminati and secret society of alien life, to historical tales from the dark ages of humanity such as the genocide of the Cathars, executions and Mayan human sacrifice.”
Nothing has avoided scrutiny from the sick mind of Ragnar, having now shaken off the title of Lord to become Dominus, the master and ruler of all he oversees. A more befitting moniker, perhaps, with the Latin term more in keeping with the mayhem that is evolving herein.
Well, if that has not whetted your sick and twisted appetite quite enough, let the dissemination begin.
The album intro Prologue is a short soundbite depicting an Amazonian backdrop and chilling screams, which sets the scene for the human sacrifice that is about to happen in the opening track, Children Of The Sun. The mid-paced opening lulls the listener into a false sense of security before hitting you full in the face with a riff as powerful as a Tyson Fury uppercut.
Dedicated to the feathered serpent Mayan god Kukulkan, Ragnar rasps the cheery words, “Their lives are torn away, their skin is cut to shreds, we offer pain to please the snake.”
It is the first single off the album, and it’s probably fair to say, with its subject matter, it’s not going to get much airplay on Radio 2. However, the rather more accommodating and discerning folk at TotalRock radio have seen fit to add this barnstormer to their playlist.
There’s no let-up with the second single, King Of The Damned. Twin guitars introduce this one, again about slaying, though this time closer to home, with the Tower of London playing host to this particular execution. South American tribes didn’t have the monopoly on gruesome torturous killings, our very own medieval royalty were pretty decent at it as well, back in the days when it only took the King to have an off day for someone to lose their head.
Ragnar’s choice vocals fit perfectly into the context of the song, which is destined to become a live favourite with its obvious crowd participation parts.
Dark Shadows is a slower number with, dare I say, melodic guitar parts over a cutting riff, which opens with the words “I was born with the cursed mark, the sign of perdition.” This has Ragnar emitting the most unearthly gargled scream that could only come from someone who has been cursed to eternal damnation, so chilling that it will have you shaking like a shitting dog.
Burn This World is a ferocious thrasher, opening with frantic stick work from industrious drummer Andy Payne. This is the bands warning of the ills of world pollution. The deathly growls, “There’s no god to save our souls,” are spat by guest vocalist Jeremy Gomez aka Solomon j Lucifer Christ from the band Red Method, straight from the bowels of Hades, where we are all undoubtedly heading when we finally kill our planet.
After the hellfire storm, the song ends with an almost accepting acoustic outro amongst the sound of burning embers. Take heed. The sermon of impending doom has been passed.
The third and final single released from the album is The Conjurer, which opens up with a chainsaw of a riff that would fell an oak at fifty metres. It’s short and sharp and is three minutes of skull-crushing Metal, much in keeping with what has gone before and what is in store from here on in.
It’s nigh on impossible to pick a standout track on an album with the bar raised so high, but if we are about to be put on the Judas chair (perish the thought) and must commit, then we are going with this one.
Like a Heavy Metal Jackanory, Mark Of The Beast tells the story of the Cathars’ religious persecution at the hands of the Catholic Church. Beginning and ending with nylon strings and with nothing short of a Metal maelstrom in between, there’s no let-up between the acoustic sections with a machine gun riff wasting all before it. “It’s the mark of the beast, feel your rage glow, killing in the name of God,” wails Ragnar before letting out a now customary venomous scream. You can almost smell the stench of death.
Spirits Of The Night is an eerie ditty which includes some tasty theremin work courtesy of Ays Kura of the band Die Kur, who is clearly on the same wavelength (excuse the pun), and a child’s tormented cries courtesy of Dominus DF Ragnar junior no less. Sleep will be your enemy after hearing this.
Deaf Forever is a cover of the Motörhead song and a perfect choice for the vocal tones of Ragnar, which have been likened to Lemmy in the past. It’s well-executed and a fitting tribute to the great man, never straying too far from point apart from the riff being heavier. Well what do you expect?
Spiders begins with a minimalistic spooky keyboard intro leading into doomy guitars paving the way for the slowest number on the album by far. Featuring mesmerising guitar work, not the same but not unlike The Snake from the debut album. With the words “little spiders weave their web” and “the spider lives inside my head”, this is an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare, ending as it started with more spooky keyboards providing the outro.
Four-string low end introduces the next song before a blistering early solo leads into total carnage. “The sound of the axe cleaving flesh, the song of steel, the hymn of death” makes you feel like you’re about to lose your life in the midst of a battle. Invictus ebbs and flows between a bludgeoning slab of ferocity that makes your teeth rattle n’ roll. So fast, so furious one moment, acoustically slow and subtle the next, it’s a banger in every sense of the word and a real shred fest.
Did we say The Conjurer was our favourite song on the album?……hmmm.
Epilogue ends the album with a soundtrack that evokes visions of rain forests, tribal drums, thunderclaps, howling monkeys and exotic birds overlayed with the voice of a Mayan shaman.
Now, we are far from fluent in Yucatec Maya, but we think The Heretic Order may just have dedicated this monolithic masterpiece of an album to the gods. What a fine choice.
So, there we have it, a sonic slab of classic old school Heavy Metal mostly at full throttle. With searing guitar work, thunderous drums, and bludgeoning bass, III emits a modern twist interspersed with deft acoustic passages that evoke an appropriate medieval feel which resonates through this album.
III is an album that is undoubtedly the best work Ragnar and his bedlamite cohorts have delivered thus far, which says a lot when one considers the strength of the debut album All Hail The Order and the follow-up Evil Rising.
This collection of songs would make an appropriate soundtrack to the most heinous horror movie you could imagine.
With sublime guitar work from Marcel Contreras-Chalk and shredding from Dominus DF Ragnar, who also recorded all the bass parts (before the arrival of new bass player Connor Meighan), III implants a solid and profound rhythm section with Andy Payne.
III is released this Friday on Massacre Records. The album launch party is at the Dev in Camden, London, the next day.
Ignore this album at your peril because Dominus DF Ragnar knows where you live. Let the nightmares begin.