Nine full-length albums from this Czech black metal band and the sound of ROOT's new album "Heritage of Satan" makes one wonder about the style progression that has occurred over the course of those releases. Though rooted, if you will, in a conventional black metal format, "Heritage of Satan" offers a range of variations on that classic Scandinavian theme, not least of which includes a good amount of black 'n roll, straight up grooves, some gothic shading, and creative oddities, making for an album that stands apart from the pack, if not always in a way that will pull the listener in for the long term.
The album gets off to a mildly intriguing, though overly long at 5:33, introductory piece called "Introprincipio" that would have been more tolerable placed at the end. From thereon though, the tunes hit hard and leave a smattering of mostly positive impressions. Bringing special guests vocalist Erik Danielsson (WATAIN), guitarist Rune ""Blasphemer" Eriksen (ex-MAYHEM, AVA INFERI, AURA NOIR), and vocalist Adam "Nergal" Darski (BEHEMOTH) along for the ride on several tracks only adds to the numerous directional shifts. ROOT seems most at home with the dirty rockin' stuff, such as "Legacy of Ancestors" and the ugly, thick-riffed grooves/plods, like "His Coming", the latter also inclusive of what could be classified as a harmony vocal. As one moves across the album he will find that rare is the song that sticks too long to any one approach, a defining characteristic of "Heritage of Satan" that does more good than harm with regard to listener attentiveness potential. The fat, driving groove of "Revenge of Hell", featuring" the album's most memorable chorus, is spiced up with whispered vocal segments and a light picking closing section. Even when blasting in traditional black metal form on "Darksome Prophet", ROOT can't help but toss in a little black 'n roll for good measure. Marching beats and choral effects on "Fiery Message", several tempo movements (blasting, two-beat, etc.) and one of several instances on the album where vocals falling between strange and grandiose (often both) are employed on "Greetings from the Abyss", and the creepy atmosphere that shrouds "The Apocalypse" are but a few examples of ROOT's penchant for being different without losing the black metal aesthetic.
Give it at least a few spins before passing judgment and most will find the expansionist tendencies of "Heritage of Satan" to make for at least a moderately invigorating listen. Fortunately, none of the songs fall flat or seem forced in terms of experimentation ("Introprincipio" aside). Rather, any downsides would be better described as moments that may leave the listener somewhat nonplussed, rather than awe-inspired.