The Temple – The Temple Review

I’d be willing to put down money that The Temple is or contains a piece of Ulcerate. This New Zealand duo consists of P.K. on guitar, bass, and vocals (Paul Kelland? Sure sounds like him) and J.W. on drums (former Ulcerate vocalist James Wallace?), and to make matters worse, the self-titled debut was mixed and produced by J. Saint Merat. But this feeling of limbo, that maybe it is or maybe it isn’t, is what The Temple dwells in. Its debut is a thick, murky slog of thickly downtuned riffs, furious vocals, with doom tempos and blackened blastbeats in equal measure. Flowing like water and caustic as lava, this duo offers an overwhelmingly atmospheric depiction of misanthropic Gnosticism through a mixture of black, death, and doom.

Gnosticism is the belief that humans each contain a piece of divinity within themselves, which therefore maintains all that is physical is decaying. It’s this starkly dualistic worldview paired with the ideas of misanthropy that enters through The Temple’s breed of blackened death metal. It’s as vitriolic as you’d expect blackened death to be, but there’s something truly misanthropic lurking in the shadows – a nihilistic thread coursing through every riff and blastbeat. It feels labyrinthine, a blasphemous homage to the lost creature of man, accomplished with vigor and omen alike. If humans contain divinity, The Temple spits upon it.

For all the Ulcerate-esque intrigue amid these bleak tones, The Temple is its own beast entirely. While the former dwells in a warped breed of tech-death, The Temple feels liturgical, its plodding riffs ritualistic, forsaking technical prowess for simple dissonant conclusions punctuating each passage. Its meditative songwriting recalls The Destroyers of All in its ability to breathe across its forty-two-minute runtime. Tracks like “Prophecy Omega” and “Martyr of the Tyrant” balance its black and death assets with professional precision, reveling in monolithic death riffs while interspersing it with visceral blackened tremolo. The Temple’s atmospheric passages, particularly of “Pale Horse of Pestilence” and “Wolf in the Vortex,” recall the post-metal stylings of Amenra in their simple yet ominous strumming atop patient dynamics and shifting tempos, while “Hell Incarcerate” dwells nearly entirely in death/doom dimensions. Simple sustained dissonance adds a horror-esque dimension to its sound, making the closing “Void of Scars” strangely apt to close out the album: a passage features entirely distorted dissonant plucking with arrhythmic drumming underneath, which is then dynamically built upon to the conclusion of the track.

Another clue that hints at Ulcerate affiliation is the fact that there is very little wrong with The Temple’s debut. This duo has such a sturdy handle on its songwriting that the drums and plucking passage of “Void of Scars” feels vulnerable and melancholy instead of forced and jarring, while the simple strums of “Pale Horse of Pestilence” feel ominous instead of lacking. While Ulcerate offers technical dissonant licks aplenty amid shifty rhythms and tempos, The Temple’s simple approach gives greater credence to its songwriting. It is so rock-solid in its own atmosphere that the only obvious flaw is the jarringly upbeat tempo to start off “Hell Incarcerate,” whose doomy intro belies the pummeling beat that follows. Perhaps not a reflection of The Temple, if indeed this duo is a work of Ulcerate members, it does have a bit of an uphill climb to making The Temple as household a name as its mother group.

Is The Temple as iconic as Ulcerate? No. Is their debut set to challenge the blackened death scene? No. But is The Temple the best debut album I’ve seen in a hot minute? Hell yes. While I cannot speak on the status of its enigmatic partakers, The Temple offers one of the most intriguing black/death albums of the year. Consistently atmospheric without forsaking the weight of its riffs, it reflects the gloom and nihilism of its lyrical content nearly perfectly. With a minor snafu amid its songs and a long road to fame ahead, it nonetheless accomplishes obscure death metal heft with blackened severity with matchless grace.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Releases Worldwide: November 19th, 2021

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