It features heavy, industrial tones, such as what sounds like pipes, mixed with light guitar riffs and Halo's trademark messianic singing. The main song of the piece is a remix of A Walk in the Woods, which was featured in Halo: Combat Evolved. The first part of the piece is a remix of The Gun Pointed at the Head of the Universe (the only recurrence of this theme outside of the first game), and also includes part of the melody of Enough Dead Heroes. The title may refer to the Arbiter, who is a hero to his people, despite being branded as a Heretic.
Also, it may refer to Sesa 'Refumee, another character that is seen in a bad light by his own people and is a Heretic in the eyes of the Covenant, but is a hero in that he fought against the Prophets. It could also be John-117 since to the humans he was a hero of the humans, but a heretic and demon in the eyes of the Covenant.
A remix of this song appears in the first part of Delta Halo Suite, and is heard during the "Helljumper" cutscene at the beginning of the Delta Halo mission.
- Heretic, Hero has been remixed for Halo 3 as a portion of Released. It also bears some similarities to Impend, from the same title.
- Despite being a Halo 2 song, it is played on the main menu of the essentials disk of the Halo 3 Limited Collector's Edition.