Oh, how things have changed. Back in the Unchain the Underground days we used to get physical copies of releases. When I first started it as a print ‘zine in 1988, before some of my fellow staphers here at AMG were alive, it was a cassette and onesheet, then CDs. The digital copies just started to creep in towards the end of UtU existing as a web site. Nowadays we get a zip of MP3s that are usually mislabeled and are lucky to get a PDF with some facts on the band, so typically I turn to the World Wide Web for the scoop on an act once I’ve spun the record a few times. So, here I am, listening to Perdition Temple and gearing up to write a review. First thought is, “Holy shit, this sounds like Angelcorpse,” and Little Satan that lives somewhere in my cerebrum starts plotting on tearing this release up for being so derivative. So, I Google and discover it’s Gene Palubicki on guitars, Impurath on vocals, and Bill Taylor on guitars – the founder of Angelcorpse, the vocalist of Black Witchery, and the guitarist of Angelcorpse for a spell (and also currently Immolation), respectively.
In interviews, Palubicki stated Perdition Temple picks up right where Angelcorpse left off. A lot of the material for their debut, 2010’s Edict of the Antichrist Elect, was written for the fifth Angelcorpse release and when the band split, he carried it right over, handling all the duties besides the drums himself with the final Angelcorpse drummer, Warhead, behind the kit. Now, five years down the line with a full band behind him with a pedigree worth of the Westminster Kennel Club, expectations are high, and luckily, well met. Take the Angelcorpse formula and add the Tony Bennett of barbaric war metal at the mic and you’ve got a brew as potent as his former band at their best (Exterminate) and far superior than they were at their worst (the dismally-produced Of Lucifer and Lightning).
Relentless is the word that comes to mind. So much so that to the uninitiated ear, these 37 minutes might slip by without nary a note standing out. My wife often marvels at the pounding that seeps out of my headphones as I fall asleep to death and black metal almost every night, lulled to restfulness by the hammering at my brain. Those of us inured to the extremity can find both repose and rage in the wake of such a pounding, and it is that dichotomy that makes music this extreme such a rewarding listen. Palubicki’s true strength as a musician is his ability to articulate even when playing at lightning speed, a skill that is lost among many of his contemporaries. While it may feel like a wall of sound, a closer listen to The Tempter’s Victorious (particularly on headphones) reveals tasteful bass/guitar runs and brief moments of frantic groove and sophistication amidst the bestial maelstrom.
“Extinction Synagogue” is my favorite track on the album. Impurath’s vocals are particularly decipherable, and the crack in his voice at the end of the chorus on the line “proceed to crematorium” can be likened to a later-day Billie Holiday. Those sweet moments where the tiredness and age lent her voice a character that was sweeter when it rasped, except in Impurath’s case, it’s more likely to give you testicular cancer even if you’re a woman [That’s a wicked googly! – Steel Druhm].
The grooving dexterous workout that follows is mind-baffling in its schizophrenic arrangement, and the ten seconds I’d play for anyone that wanted to hear why Perdition Temple is relevant even in the shadow of Angelcorpse‘s legacy. The influence of Morbid Angel on Gene’s writing has oft been noted, and on “Chambers of Predation” it’s most obvious. There are passages in this song, particularly the slower section a minute and a half in, that if Morbid Angel wrote now would almost serve as a formal apology for crap nuggets like “Too Extreme!” off Illud Divinum Insanus. The rhythm section of drummer Ronnie Parmer and bassist Gabriel Gozainy are sphincter tight. Gozainy plays like he has four index fingers, matching even Palubicki’s most frenetic riffs note for note. Listen to the closing track, “Devil’s Blessed,” 15 seconds in. It’s like Coroner with a bag of crystal meth jammed straight up their asses, running for the can after winning a volcanic hot win challenge.
If you played The Tempter’s Victorious at half speed you’d have a solid death metal album over an hour in length at a tempo the lay person could actually grasp. As is, this is one for we the seasoned to wrap our minds around. Throw it on in the background while you’re doing anything but listening to it and many of the nuances that put Perdition Temple decapitated head and shoulders above so many other bands will likely be lost. This is not a lazy man’s listen, but as with most things that can be a challenge, the spoils are well worth it. Angelcorpse isn’t back, rather Palubicki and his horde have unleashed a brother to that beast with just as much brawn and even more teeth.