Cruz Del Sur Music is certainly boosting their reputation as a label to keep an eye on, and fast on the heels of recent release by intercontinental doomsters King Heavy (see Ave Noctum passim), comes Oslo’s own Magister Templi with their latest release ‘Into Duat’. Now, my first fear on seeing the title, and the fact that the band have adopted monikers such as ‘Baphomet’ on guitar and ‘Grimdun’ on drum was that I was in for an unwanted slice of badger faced screeching to an accompaniment of chainsaw guitars and double kick drum battery. Fortunately the fine editor of this site knew better than to let my review skills loose on such fodder, and a something far different and far more gratefully received rumbled from my speakers.
Whilst magic is firmly on the mind of the band with ‘Into Duat’, the Norse and Abrahamic myth cycles that are the normal fare of black metal are nowhere to be heard, the band instead creating a near concept album built around the legends of ancient Egypt ‘Creation’ starts the story, the pre-Judeo-Christian genesis tale being told to a combination of doom sensibility in slow slogging guitar breaks interspersed with the punch of early NWOBHM riffing. ‘Lord of the Morning’ follows, the opening guitar harmonies instantly bringing to mind classic Candlemass, a band that Magister Templi often match with their theatrical story telling style, the sun god of the Nile’s mythology providing a suitably epic lyrical base for the track.
‘Osiris’, starts off with spoken lines that could have been culled from HP Lovecraft before the music kicks in, group chants over the chorus harking back to early proto-metal occult rock stalwarts whilst the crashing cymbals and galloping guitars again call back to classic metal for their influences, the solo being high, clean, and technical. In this one 3 minute 20 second track the band manage to punch in more story telling and key changes than some more self-indulgent bands manage in four or five times that length, and I’m talking about you Iron Maiden! Sometimes less can be more, and by not meandering and over repeating themselves, the band have given a concise example of that maxim. Even those tracks such as ‘Horus The Avenger’ and ‘Anubis’ which follow, whilst longer, and stuffed with instrumental breaks, both clock in at under the five minute mark, sounding lean and snappy, whilst still with enough rough edges to make it sound less like the product of a heavy handed engineer, and more the creation of the musicians, something that could be recreated live without resorting to backing tracks and other tricks many bands that overcomplicate their recordings have to do.
Nothing about ‘In Duat’ (factoid: Duat is often translated as the Egyptian underworld) is a new or radical departure from established sounds, instead it is a solid slice of metal that owes as much to the likes of Manilla Road as it does Black Sabbath. However, the dedication of the lyrics to ancient Egyptian themes combined with solid musicianship being what gives the album an identity that helps it stand out from the crowd, whilst individual tracks like the epic ‘Slaying Apophis’ cry out to be played live.