Temple“Ritualistic Death Metal Necromancy” is what they call this. That’s Metal of Death rather then the genre, I’d say. This thoroughly blackened slab from Australia is as black as it gets – hissing prophets in blackened corridors of hopelessness and gloom. It’s all designed to unsettle us and fire up our darkest imagination. Maybe “Shrine of Summon (The Great Opposer) is set in swamplands. I think not. As I listened to the black undercurrent and the swirling sound, I pictured a voice from that shrine but such is the murk that I couldn’t see him. It’s a bit Blut aus Nord in ambiance, and so is “Exhumation; Miseries upon Imprecation”. Here again we’re dragged along. There’s no escape. The tortuous majesty keeps us there whether we like or not. It’s got a kind of industrial air like Aborym but it comes from a more spiritual plane. It’s like being at your own funeral, starting from the moment of going through a slow death. Drums plod like a falling axe. The guitar plays the funeral rites. The hissing is somewhere in the background, as winds blow. Eerie sounds prevail. Finally the drum takes on a splash of colour in this morbid scene.

Of course the atmosphere doesn’t change a lot. It’s blackened gloom and more blackened gloom. This is patient and reflective of lingering death. “Abhorrent They Fall” has a despairing air. We’re entrenched in this nightmare. “Pillar of Ancient Death (Commune 2.1)” starts with ominous rumbling. It’s got to be bad news. Obscure ambient sounds get closer and encircle us. These sounds develop and “Dagger of Necromantic Decay (Eater of Hearts)” lives up to its title and presents us with the prospect of swarming flies in an environment which recalls punishment and putridity. Chaotic scenes develop before “Ascension of Decaying Forms”, another enveloping and lingering nightmare, full of melancholy and hopelessness. It has a mystical quality too, as if decaying shadows have indeed risen, and we are left to contemplate a scene of despair and nothingness, save maybe a few smouldering embers. The ominous rumbling returns and heightens gradually, developing into another eerie and frightening tableau. After “Command of the Bones (Commune 2.2)”, “Miasma” begins and shocks us with its violence, something to which we haven’t been subjected thus far. But it’s still foggy and crust-laden. The demonic voice hisses through the bleak devastation which the instruments portray. It stops. The drum beats mysteriously. Chaos erupts. Sounds can be heard of mass murder and suffering. It’s a fitting end.

The path does not deviate. Gloom is the order of the day and night. “Condemnation” is liable to sweep you up and crush you. It’s not an album for the faint-hearted.

 (7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)