Heretix

A.D.

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This Boston-based alternative rock band could have gotten a better shake from Island Records, as they had a bit more punch than their contemporaries from the same region, O-Positive. Vocalist Ray Lemieux and guitarist/keyboardist Brian Hill wrote the songs that get propelled by the big sound of the 1980s, when A Flock of Seagulls were flying one way and edgier sounds were filling in the gaps. Producer Ross Humphrey, who worked with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Cliffs of Dooneen, keeps everything very to-the-point, though a little spice would have been of great value here. The choice of covers and their execution is always a telling point, and taking Marc Bolan's "Mad Donna" is a smart move; letting it border on hard rock, however, is not. Though not on any T. Rex tribute LP, it may have fit better on Resurrection of the Warlock than Exalted Companion, the latter a British release which featured another Boston act, Childhood, a group with a similar sound to Heretix. Ron Scarlett's quirkiness on the Childhood cover of T. Rex raises it above the usual tribute fare, and it's that distinctiveness that is missing on the Heretix effort. Their sound works better on the originals, "Always Darkest" overflowing with angst, a negative tune of no hope. The lighter alternative sound is there on Ray Lemieux's "Sheriff" and the cover of Donovan's "Season of the Witch." At five minutes and 46 seconds, "Season of the Witch" is the longest track, and though it is competent, it doesn't really give the listener a sense of what Heretix was all about. This was about three years before Nirvana would hit; the up-tempo Bo Diddley of "Promising Promises" has Heretix on the pulse of '80s groups finding an edge, the generation after new wave which anticipated modern rock. Interesting that "World Full of Tears" exemplifies the sound of the times and perhaps gives the best sense of what the band was trying to say. The purple CD cover has the four bandmembers' heads in north, south, east, and west positions, and it is all very interesting. They just needed a bit more personality and record company support.

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