September 8, 2012

Tempel - On The Steps Of The Temple

Written by Andy Osborn.

Despite metal being one of the most complex and intense forms of music, the vocal-lacking variety still remains an outlier and no heavy instrumental band has ever come close to mainstream success. In most groups the vocalist always becomes the de facto front man, giving fans an easy way to connect with the band through his lyrics and voice. This may explain why instrumental bands will always be on the fringe, the lack of an organic instrument can make a band seem mechanical or somehow less human. They need to fill in the expectation gap with songwriting that can touch souls.

The genre typically balances between two extremes, with the post-rock inspiration of Pelican and Russian Circles on one end and the technical shreddings of Colin Marston projects on the other. Uniquely, Tempel fall neatly in the middle with their debut full-length. It would be easy to give them the standard sludge/doom badge but the Arizona duo is so much more than that. They stick to a more sinister path; although despairing beauty is bountiful in their sound, their tendency for menacing chord progressions adds a tinge of ugliness that makes them appealing to fans of any extreme subgenre. The 53-minute album draws inspiration from any number of nefarious influences, attacking you with top-notch blastbeats, deathlike riffage and humble solos when you least expect them.

Each piece has its own unique voice and is easily able to keep attention with ever-changing moods and dynamic arrangements. “Final Years,” the third track, is the only introspective turn, a relaxing bridge that spans the chasm between pillars of intensity, showcasing the type of beautiful melodies and atmosphere the band is capable of without resorting to aggressive distortion. The closer is by far the album’s heaviest, whirling through decaying southern riffs over a constant double bass barrage and proving that a vocalist in the mix would only diminish the band’s towering creation. This temple is made of metal, and it’s begging for worship.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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