Magister Templi // Lucifer Leviathan Logos
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Mercyless copycats…
Label: Cruz Del Sur Records
Websites: Facebook.com/pages/Magister-Templi | MySpace.com/magistertemplitheband
Release Dates: EU: 2013.05.10 | US: 05.07.2013
There aren’t a lot of bands out there that come close to duplicating King and co’s brand of malevolence. From his piercing falsetto and his operatic shrieks to his mid-range torturous screams and evil growls, King Diamond owns! Norwegian based, NWOBHM-inspired Magister Templi combine occult, doom flavored lyrics reminiscent of Venom and Mercyful Fate with upbeat, power chord infused melody along the lines of Mercyful Fate and Pagan Altar to arrive at a groovy platter of satanic malarkey. With a bio like that, a rock solid EP and two of Svarttjern’s key members, it’s no surprise indie label Cruz Del Sur (home to early While Heaven Wept and Pagan Altar) snapped up this five-piece. So does that leave Magister Templi as mere kingly copycats or something more?
Opening track “Master of the Temple” gallops along at a fiery pace with some interestingly schizophrenic tempo changes, morphing from soaring, breakneck highs to trudging, sludgy doominess. The Mercyful Fate influence is evident early on, with the opening riff bringing to mind “Into the Coven” – not necessarily a bad thing (heck, if the oath ain’t broke, don’t break it, right?) Abraxas d’Ruckus has melodic, soaring, sometimes otherworldly and demented vocals that brought to my mind Warrel Dane (Nevermore, ex-Sanctuary) and to a greater extent, the King’s excessive and all powerful vocal style [Hail to the King, baby! — Steel Druhm]. Vocal high points have to be “The Innsmouth Look” and “Tiphareth” and while Abraxas doesn’t quite hit the high notes the King reaches, I’m wild about his shrieky, cutting scream and I want to hear a whole lot more of it.
Baphomet and Patriark (Svarttjern) (guitars) are tight musicians capable of brawny, immense riffage. Tracks like “Master of the Temple”, “The Innsmouth Look” and “Leviathan” captivate with their breakneck speed. Akoman (Bass) and Grimmdun (Svarttjern) (Drums) contribute the hardened percussive elements on Lucifer Leviathan Logos and there’s no lack of solid beats, fun fills and driving tempo. The tracks are plenty repetitive and about as catchy as that infernal dose flu you’re trying to avoid – I dare you to fight their earworminess. While they do what they do well, Magister Templi haven’t pushed themselves beyond that of what Mercyful Fate, Pagan Altar and a host of other NWOBHM flavored bands have already done. I’m hoping their next release will see them pushing the boundaries a little more.
Lucifer Leviathan Logos has got a slightly fresher mix than that used by Mercyful Fate, and pleasantly enough they’ve got it right while still managing to sound sufficiently dirty and doom-laden. The big downfall on this album is the aforementioned utter lack of originality. Keep in mind though, not every band can be original and sometimes you just have to admit an album’s good and enjoy it for what it is. Outside of that, there’s a slight lack of cohesion with the tracks. Yes they’re all occult themed, but other than that they feel like a grab bag of tracks rather than one solid idea.
I have to admit, like Lucifer, I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for this album. It’s a comfortable listen and it’s quickly carved out a nice little niche on my playlist. My favorite tracks ended up being “Lucifer” (I actually have to force myself to not sing along to this damn song – that chorus is just freaking ridiculous!) and the odd finisher “Vitriol”. I’m not sure where this track wandered in from, and at times it leaves you feeling like it jumped ship from a Jethro Tull album. The lyrics are nutty, referring to death, decay, decomposition, carcasses and three-headed dragons really, what more could you want? This is a good first release from a band I’m going to be keeping my eye on [The eye of the witch? — Steel Druhm].