TOOTSTThere is something about the retro-sounding rock and metal which just grips you and this Vancouver based trio, created by Matt “Macarbe” Emery, “The Order of the Solar Temple” has it all. The proto-metal styled sounds of the legendary Blue Öyster Cult with healthy doses of mysticism, esotericism, doom and metal outbursts with falsetto wailings akin to that of King Diamond takes the early and well used philosophy of ‘denim and leather’ and gives it a healthy injection of things which sound like they have come straight from Aleister Crowley himself.

Opening up with “Fallout Woman”, the 70’s feel is right there. The soft vocals over the stripped back music sound soothing as the intensity gradually builds through the drums before a King Diamond worthy wailing ushers in a tasty blues styled solo. Keeping up the same pace and style, the song teases with its slow pace before another classic solo, similar to the first one brings the song home. “The Aeon of Horus” follows up and it’s a long one. The slow intro of samples gives way to a steady rock feel with some tasty lead work over it. The vocals have a bit more bite to them and the background chant-vocals mixed with the theatrical approach of King Diamond meets Matt Barlow of Iced Earth works well with this mystical number. The solo round three minutes in over a simple riff behind it builds the atmosphere up before the song gets back to its usual feel. A second guitar solo five minutes in brings the chanting section back. Towards the end of the song, it turns acoustic with the guitar playing the main riff to the song with no other accompaniment, rounding it out nicely.

“The Cult (Of Rock and Roll)” opens up with an almost KISS-like feel to it (think Detroit Rock City) and the vocals mirror that feel. Full of swagger and edge, the song builds up big for the chorus with some of the backing vocals sang in falsetto for good measure. A tasty little solo follows the first chorus as the rest of the song grooves along and as the song draws to a close, the pace keeps up and the vocals get more flair in them as the guitars tease with a repeating lead lick. “Jervas Dudley” starts with the sound of a church bell tolling in a thunderstorm, almost Black Sabbath style, but instead of a slow, thunderous riff, a more metal styled gallop follows with ghostly sounding guitars laced with thick wah-effects adds to the atmosphere. The guitar gets a little break to itself to bring in the verse and the vocals come in, full of power. They soften up in what could be called the “pre-chorus” section, adding a hypnotic feel to it over the clean guitars but an almost Frank Zappa sounding solo follows up. Its disjointed flow works well over the staccato feel of the rhythm before it leads back to the metal styled gallop feel again which has the right feel for head-banging along to. Halfway through the track, a breakdown happens, complete with wailed vocals and guitar solo which breaks it up nicely and the rest of the song gradually fades out into some out of tune sounding music.

“Pale Horse” starts with a motorbike revving and a groove filled riff which brings back the rock n roll swagger, complete with Hammond organ, Deep Purple style backing it all up. The almost Highway Star esque vocal wail makes you expect Ian Gillan to start singing about his car, and the feel certainly builds up to that with a tasty fast paced solo. The vocals come thick and fast, breaking into the wails without any warning, upping the intensity of the song, whilst the guitar teases in and out of riffs and twisting solos. It all works perfectly, making this probably the best track of the album. “Back Home” starts off with a bass intro and samples, giving it a moody feel but when the guitars kick in, it has an almost bouncy, glam-styled groove to it with a bright sound. The vocals are full of confidence and swagger, in a Kingdom Come kind of way whilst the song stays with the simple feel, which acts as a great comedown from the previous track and sets up the following number perfectly. “Dominance and Submission” is a BÖC cover and as expected, the band nail this perfectly, adding their own twists to the classic number – touches of Hammond organ, more flair in the vocals and a 100% increase in dramatic wailings. It’s a great rendition, there is nothing else what can be said really.

Closing the album is “The Order”. It starts with a spooky, doom-filled lead line which is accompanied by a slow, steady drumbeat, droning chords, a slow bass-line and some organ work. The main riff slowly drags its way along with an intense feel, perfect for slowly banging your head along to. It’s an intense number musically and the vocals add the drama needed to match the dark intensity of the track with plenty of flamboyance. The harmony vocals in the chorus are accompanied by a simple lead line and towards the end of the song, it trails out into another mood building segment with quirky, almost sci-fi styled sounds, chanted vocals and a faster paced rock feel which leads to an outro solo which rounds the album off nicely.

“The Order of the Solar Temple” is fantastic. It’s got the right mix of flair and creativity laced with the proto-metal feel which has a wide appeal. Don your robes, pull then hoods up, and join me at the altar to worship with the Order.

(8.5/10 Fraggle)