Actually, this is a GREAT Zorn release
Allan MacInnis | Vancouver | 10/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The person who reads this should be, really, a Zorn fan lost in the maze of his output, scared to invest in a Zorn CD like JUDE that just tortures the listener, or something TRULY strange like ABSINTHE, which is beautiful but really difficult to hook onto. Rest assured -- THIS IS A GOOD ONE. It's the one I'd recommend for anyone considering buying one of the Japanese Zorn releases -- RADIO, somehow, never really appealed to me, GRAND GUIGNOL is a bit too DARK for most folk, and ABSINTHE, like I say, is just STRANGE. Not this disk. It's very varied, at times dark, intense,and violent, and elsewhere playful in bizarre and challenging ways. The "Here Come the 7000 frogs" duet between Zorn on alto and Boredoms weirdo vocalist Y. Eye, gibbering, shrieking, and generally flipping out, is priceless. There's also a surprisingly funky cut here, "Fire and Ice (club scene)." Well worth it. But "Is it safe?", you ask me again, reaching for the dental drill. Yeah, sure, if you're adventurous enough. Heh."
Not quite Torture Garden...
idvego | Alabama | 11/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Heretic" is definitely a good record. It's represents a big change for Naked City, though, and if you're looking for another "Torture Garden" or even "Naked City" or "Radio", you won't find it here. This is more experimental, (at times) ambient, and definitely less structured and edgy than the previous Naked City releases. It seems to be a lot of lick-based noise where you have drums, keyboards, other percussion coming in and out, keyboards, other percussion, nothing planned out or even, shall we say, MUSICAL. Not to say it's a bad record, though, because it's definitely worth having, but don't go buying it hoping to get another "Torture Garden" fix, you'll only be disapointed in that case. There are absolutely no elements of grindcore, surf, or much of anything that made up Naked City's original mission, but do give it a chance, it will grow on you if nothing else."
Difficult, but brilliant album-- carves its own style.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 03/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Naked City was a compositional worshop for John Zorn-- while the band is known for its genre blending jump cut styles and hardcore miniatures, there are a number of other faces to this group, and "Heretic" displays them. "Heretic" exists in sort of an electric improv form that is unique to it-- there's not an attempt at bringing in other genres, no blending swing with hardcore and so on. As a result, it works better in terms of being a coherent statement than much of the other Naked City material.
One other difference is that the music here lacks the sort of density and business of "Naked City" and "Grand Guignol". This is further accentuated by all of the musicians not appearing on every track, instead we get a number of different views of the band. Like most Zorn material, there's not a lot here that's not terribly interesting, and there is a lot of note-- the churning, building, atonal "Sex Games" and "Saint Jude", zorn/Eye duets ("Sweat, Sperm + Blood", "Here Come the 7,000 Frogs", and "Mantra of Resurrected Sh*t") that reallys show off how brilliantly these two work together, a Frisell/Frith duet that illustrates the strength of the two of them on their instruments ("Vliet"), and speaking of Frisell, his guitar playing really gets shown off on "Submission" with a fractured and disjoint lead. And then there's "Dominatrix 2B", which actually has that jump-cut feel, although moving through the sort of environments and attitudes set up on this album rather than other genres. Also of note are the "Heretic" pieces, on which much of saxaphone technique and vocabulary he developed that are so unique to him are shown off over shifting backgrounds. But perhaps most stunning is "Back Through the Looking Glass", I've been trying to determine how to describe it, but it really needs to be heard to be appreciated.
In its own way, "Heretic" is brilliant-- its a challenging listen, and if you're not firmly entrenched with Zorn's way, its probably going to be difficult to digest, but like many of his works, this one rewards repeated listenings and patience."