Temple of Evil – Apolytrosis Review

Esoteric concepts need some sort of well-endowed platform to rise above obscurity. Temple of Evil believes in the summoning power of their latest sermon Apolytrosis—an ancient Greek term for the concept of redemption through sacrifice. Hailing from the kvlt island nation of Cyprus, in the brutal waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Temple of Evil presents us with the familiar offerings of pummeling blast beats, furious tremolo riffs, and embattled barks—all with the melodic flair of other Hellenistic acts like Rotting Christ or Nightfall. So what kind of dark promise did these unsung black metal maestros make to lead us to salvation? Svpercalifragilisticexpiapolytrosis.

Temple of Evil plays a proficient, occasionally surprising, melodic style of black metal. In the six years since their first conjuring, The 7th Awakening, these Cypriots have structured their sophomore outing for success with each Cimmerian psalm titled with a step along the path to ascendence1. Guitarists Apethantos and Nekrocurse build a tried-and-trv atmosphere with their forceful second-wave guitar attack, Nekrocurse also providing pivotal synth moments to build additional unholy tension (he really sells it on “Metousiosis”). Though not as bombastic as an act like Necrophobic, the duo provides ample wrist-snapping riffs on thrashers like “Avtaparnisis,” which even features a sneaky, creeping bassline.

Good black metal, especially in this crowded day and age, needs to be aided by diversity in drumming to have any presence. To lead each ritual, drummer Apophis2 litters Apolytrosis with exciting and swaggering skin-pounding moments. Whether it’s the blast that leads into a syncopated assault of “Apognosis,” the marching snare and quick cymbal work of “Epignosis,” or the waltzy death-doom saunter of “Thanatosis,” heads will bob, feet will tap, and hands will (attempt) to slap at furious speeds. Occasionally, I’m reminded of the frenetic yet fanciful rhythmic energy of Valdur, albeit in a much more polished package—though there’s nothing clean about these grooves.

While our hero on the cover tears his own flesh to free his soul, some production choices here do not allow that intensity of sacrifice to pervade through Apolytrosis—there’s not a clipped floor tom nor shredded hissing guitar screech to be found on this spacious master. The guitars, drums, and vocals all sit in the same mid-range window, with the vocals being the unfortunately lost subject among the openness of the sound. “Epignosis” stands out as one of my favorite tracks on this album because of the chaotic drum leads, but the relentless snare and full cymbal expression render Arkhon Sakrificer’s thunderous roars to a lowly crackle. The title track “Apolytrosis,” true to the expression of sacrifice, should be filled with the fury of a man enraptured, and while we’re treated to a wobbly, almost surf-rock guitar brilliance, we hear a shout washed away in the waves.

For a genre that grows by the dozens every week, success requires more than cautious and clean execution—Apolytrosis has left me undefiled. Shimmering guitars and shining cymbals cast too much light into this dark cathedral, never forcing us to take a step back to feel safe. The bravest moment comes all too late at the close of “Anavasis” where we’re left at the crescendo of a scorching guitar wail, wondering if we achieved anything. Temple of Evil has the chops and ideas to craft a good album, but they haven’t brought enough to the altar to ascend quite yet.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Folter Records
Websites: templeofevil.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/templeofevilband
Releases Worldwide: November 26th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Google-assisted English translations of the Greek titles: Descent into the Underworld – Hopelessness – Self-denial – Knowledge – Apparent death – Spiritual shift – Redemption – Ascension… it’s all Greek to me though, so Greek readers feel free to chime in.
  2. Yes, they recruited an Egyptian god.
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