A good concept album is hard to come by these days. When one does rear its ugly head, it seems to be the product of another band seeking the blessings of Helloween, Iced Earth, or Blind Guardian. Which isn’t all bad, considering some of my favorite concepts records are the American and German kind. What this means, though, is most of the concepts records I think of (except for King Diamond, of course) are of the power metal variety. What I don’t think of when I think concept record is doom metal; especially an independent doom metal outfit from North Carolina. Yet, there are still some ties to power metal as Temptation’s Wings delivers a story about as power metal as it gets. Debut record, Skulthor Ebonblade, tells a tale about the vengeance of one man (Skulthor Ebonblade) against an evil witch clan that burns his village to the ground. Not only is it power metallish, but it’s also a goddamn gem. It’s simple and well-structured and is an exercise of cohesive songwriting and great storytelling. Not to mention, Skulthor Ebonblade is a treasure trove of riffs, lyrics, and as much bass, drum, and guitar as you can handle. Now… let the story begin…

But, labeling Temptation’s Wings as just a doom band would be wrong. Regardless of the band’s name and their southern brotherhood with Down, these guys are no copycat. Temptation’s Wings are more than doom. The songwriting on Skulthor Ebonblade is a combination of Candlemass and Sabbath, with vocals bordering on the former and chorus arrangements similar to Night of the Stormrider-era Iced Earth. Topping it off, there are also pinches of Anthrax and Metallica sprinkled throughout. This alone is enough to get me excited in the pants, but then we get a story of fire, destruction, witch hunting, Viking sword gathering, and revenge? Well, fuck me.

After the bass builds the short “Burning of Hjalmar” up from nothing, “I Destroyer” cracks Skulthor Ebonblade wide open. My initial thoughts at hearing this were “this is the greatest Southern-vibed rollercoaster I have ever ridden.” On the surface, it’s standard doom-fare, but then it unleashes chugs and vocals as sinister as the Cthulu-ruled depths. In its six-minute runtime, this track jumps around like no other song on the album. And, at times, its schizophrenic nature is almost overwhelming. But that’s the only complaint I have with “I Destroyer.” And, regardless, it’s short-lived as the album pushes on with its six remaining tracks. Jump ahead to the ten-minute “Witches of Dredmoor” and you’ll find the band’s shining example of stuffed-to-the-brim songwriting. After opening with some beefy bass, this long epic explores everything from classic doom and addictive vocal arrangements to the chunkiness of modern-day Metallica. There are ascents, descents, and some of the catchiest vox on the record. Other tracks do a better job of expanding on the doom and thrash, but “Witches of Dredmoor” is the quintessential Temptation’s Wings song. It has it all, including the climax of this epic tale.

But the greatest piece on the record has to be closer “My Name Was Skulthor.” For all the doom enthusiasts out there, this one is a classic. Like its predecessor, “My Name Was Skulthor” is overflowing with memorable bass leads, moody guitar licks, and a chorus that will ring in your ears for days. Want even more bang for your buck? Look no further than “To Gorge a Legend (Ulfbehrt)” and “Lair of the Gorgon Queen.” The former sinks its teeth into you with massive, chugging riffs before it transitions into Viking-esque booms from an all-male chorus and guitar leads/solos that rattle underneath bass guitar supports. “Lair of the Gorgon Queen,” in particular, delivers a soothing Metallica-like intro from the Cliff Burton glory days. From here, we take a ride on a charging riff that swoops down and snatches up a chorus as old as Iced Earth.

As you can tell, there is a lot of bass guitar on this record. Actually, there’s a lot of everything on this record. And though the dynamics aren’t record breaking, I’m surprised they are as “low” as they are. Skulthor Ebonblade sounds like a record nearing DR9-10 by the way it hums and purrs across its fifty-minute length. It has a great vibe, great vocals, and the fluidity of the story is beautiful. Though tracks like “Into the Maelstrom” and “Treachery of the Blind Raven” don’t pack the same punch as the others, the record is without filler. So, the next time you think about what a good concept record should be, don’t be like me. Let doom have its chance.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: temptationswings.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/twbandwnc
Releases Worldwide: March 10th, 2017

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  • Sounds like Grand Magus run through a Cajun boogie filtration device. I dig it.

    • GardensTale

      It reminded me of Grand Magus straight off the bat, and that can only be a good thing. This is fucking sweet!

    • [not a Dr]

      Good thing I read that again: I thought you wrote “flirtation device”.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I’ve got that app too.

    • Eli Valcik

      Grand Magus + Visigoth

    • Norpal Nordickson

      Yeah there’s a whole lot of Grand Magus in here. The vocals, mainly. And seeing how Grand Magus seem to have devolved into a cheap Manowar pastische, this suits me just fine.

  • Reese Burns

    I follow the cover artist (David Paul Seymour) on Instagram. It’s cool to see one of the releases he lent his work to get featured here.

  • Feytalist

    That album name sounds like it comes straight out of the best/worst D&D campaign ever created.

  • [not a Dr]

    I get that not being King Diamond costs you at least 1 point in the Doctor’s scale, but the review alludes to a much higher score (as does the music itself).
    Looks like I’m one of those subjective-score-debating commenters now.

    • Stop it.

      • [not a Dr]

        My wallet will be giving it a score of 10$/10$.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      The good doctor’s 3.5 is like other people’s 4 or 4.5.

      • sir_c

        That sounds a bit creepy. Like when you go to a doctor, he looks at your newly acquired STD and says “Mmm … interesting”

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yup, I get that all the time. Keep in mind I have never given anything higher than a 4.0. So loads of gushing on a 3.5 works for me.

      • sir_c

        so you are saying your ratings run 0-4? Or you did not yet encounter that mesmerizing 5-start album yet?

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Have never found those albums that deserve a 4.5 or 5.0. Probably will never find a 5.0.

          • sir_c

            Mmm maybe you should rethink some of the criteria. e.g. albums that last even 20 years after their inception. Instant 5-stars may be impossible in this case, but they must be out there…

            I don’t have many 5-star albums, but The God Machine and David Bowie are among them. Sometimes it takes 3 years before I return to them, but every time it’s like fitting an old glove. For me, that is a 5-star.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I didn’t say old albums aren’t deserving of perfect scores. I can think of a few albums that just blew me away. But in the last three years with AMG, I haven’t found those albums.

          • Danny

            Is it that you don’t think any records deserving of a 5 have been released in the past 3 years, or just that you haven’t been given any of those to review?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Hmmmm good question. There are a few I would say are right up there (you can probably guess that from my top ten lists), but none that I have reviewed.

          • sir_c

            ah that clarifies; you said you never found any 4+ albums, so that gave me the impression you did not have any.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Nope, got plenty. Just not the stuff I’ve reviewed here.

          • [not a Dr]

            And I’m starting to believe I’ll have to wait until the 7th day of July 2017 before I read anything about that!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Ha! Nah, it actually would have a perfect home in the beginning of April 2017…

          • [not a Dr]

            That should give me something to read while waiting for the February ROTM.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Love me some Southern fried bass. Not as juicy as the bass on Ironsword’s None But the Brave (jumping the genre here, but it’s my recent standard for great bass sound), but very tasty.

  • Danny

    Didn’t Draconian have a killer doom concept record called Arcane Rain Fell? But this sounds like much more fun, I’ll have to check it out.

  • ExtremeAidan

    The score surprised me. After gushing about the album the whole time I was sure this was gonna a 4.0 at worst, maybe even a 4.5. About to go listen to it myself because it sounds like a pretty good album.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    They should get +0.5 for having the word “Wings” in their band name and having wings on their logo.

    • sir_c

      Only when they would incorporate a photo of Paul McCartney as well

  • Ta2dlam

    Totally diggin’ on this. A buddy of mine tried to get me, for the third time unsuccessfully, to listen to the new Khemmis in it’s entirety. Temptation’s Wings kicks it’s ass in my opinion in every way…and I’m prepared now for the Khemmis lovers’ hate.

    • Austin Lovell

      Any particular reason Khemmis doesn’t do it for you?

      • Ta2dlam

        The vocals fall really flat for me and the music, while quite good, simply isn’t enough to save it. Listening to a lot of extreme metal I’ve almost completely allowed the vocals to just be more percussion but when someone is actually going to sing I find that I need more emotion coming forth to find it engaging. I’ve had this issue with other groups subject as Mastodon and sometimes enough listens will bring me around. The same may occur with Khemmis because, as I said, I do find the music quite good.

        • Austin Lovell

          I gotcha. I personally love his vocals, especially on Hunted. I have the exact opposite reaction to them, and I feel they really meld well with the instruments. Their tone is superb and their riffs are mammoth. Three Gates is my personal favorite, especially for that opening riff and the way the vocals kick in is superb. Hopefully it’ll click with you someday.

        • Berit Dogg

          Well I for one agree. “Uh, OK, I guess”.

  • Norfair Legend

    When did John C Riley get so fat and grow a beard?

  • Music seems fine but those vocals are rough.

  • Bas

    Nice, thanks dr. just the medicine I needed !

  • Metal and Hockey

    Ordered the CD this morning!

  • herrschobel

    This took me a couple of songs to get into…mainly because of the singing…but after it clicked it REALLY clicked….very good stuff and something even my kids will like…those hiphop loving little punks

  • I.B. Hurtin

    I’m not hating on this, but my first thought upon listening was “Sounds like Spinal Tap trying to sound like Iron Maiden.” I can picture the dwarves dancing around Stonehenge now!

  • ArtifeX

    Ain’t a fan of classifications but I think that Stoner Epic Doom would be appropriate. Great album, awesome for playing on the road. 4.0 for me.

  • Serjien

    So this was surprisingly delightful!
    Maybe it is just me, but when I saw the cover the first thing I thought of was a The Walking Dead comic.

  • Nate Sweet

    Couldn’t stop laughing through “to forge a legend.” Cheesy power metal at its finest. ULFBEHRT!

    I think this is one of those albums that, while I appreciate the musicianship, just doesn’t really click with me. Excellent review nonetheless. Got me to listen to it.

  • TW drummer

    Hey guys thanks for the kind words in this thread about the album! Angry metal guy is the best!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thanks for the great album.