Candlemass, Solstice, Warning, Isole, Mirror Of Deception, Scald, Reverend Bizarre. When you see those bands cited as influences not only do you know the band has great taste, but also that they are drinking from the source and that you are in the presence of that increasingly rare flavour, true doom. Doom, people. Doom. Forever having its clothes stolen; first by slow death metal, then by sludge and lately by the seventies ressurectionists. Clothes stolen yes but never its soul. True doom is more underground than ever these days, only Pallbearer really having poked their heads above the parapets of late, but its mournful, heavy, determined soul was born to persist. If doom can mean ‘judgement’ or ‘fate’ then it has forever stared into its own, unflinchingly, and carried on regardless one foot before the other. Unfashionable, unbothered, onwards.
Greek band The Temple actually formed in 2009 but before this had only 2015’s ‘As Once Was’ e.p. to their name. With their first full length album they wear their hearts on their sleeves from the first chord of ‘The Blessing’. This is no bad thing and this is high church doom, the strangely religious tones ringing like sombre bells, the melodic vocals and guitar lines slowly rising above the downtuned bass and steady, granite solid drums. Early Solstice turning slowly in a Warning direction, or a glance at Isole, with the vocals and the riff. It is a lovely, thoughtful vestibule to enter by, a rich one. Immediately entrancing it welcomes you within and lays out the heavy velvet of its music for you without pretence or posturing. A simple yet adept sound, familiar yes but as with all good first albums of true doom it has an undertow, a strain pulling relentlessly in the direction of its own path, its own future.
With songs like ‘Qualms in Regret’ there is something of Griftegarde (R. I. P.) in the quasi-religious mournful rise and fall of the vocals; not perhaps as dark but as sombre and as considered. The Temple heavily use the melodic guitar line following the crest of the riff here, too, adding a sharpness to the mix. On the excellent ‘Remnants’, a fine and remarkably complex song underpinned by a great Warning-esque fuzzed and smothering riff, there is great and ambitious use of harmony vocals. Yes perhaps they need a little work on some of the higher registers but they are still very good and this is a debut. Every debut is the marker of a work in progress and with doom I would say this is doubly so. ‘Death The Only Mourner ‘ delves deeper into the twin wells of Warning and Griftegarde and even surpasses ‘Remnants’ with its stately, echoing presence. A softer midsection leads into a wonderful, dense and emotional riff and again their ability to mix the tempo and arrangements shines through brightly, a lamp in the fog that demonstrates a heartfelt over of what they do to speak so fluently through their chosen genre.
And the songs, yes three individual songs keep getting better. ‘Mirror Of Souls’ has the intense personal touch, the demonstrating of emotion that Mirror Of Deception were so good at and again the vocals work so very well together to carry the listener onwards. There’s the hint of a progressive edge here too in the guitar work, the kind of thing While Heaven Wept used to balance so well before they tipped over into full on prog.
I do wish that the production, which is fine as far as it goes, could have been a bit more expensive, a bit more epic. These riffs and these vocals are crying out for it. This sounds like it was recorded in a chapel, a good acoustic space to be sure, but the songs are meant for a cathedral and the huge sound it can bring. Next time maybe.
The Temple may not know precisely where they are going other than onwards and, indeed, upwards but they most certainly know where they are from. That certainty of heritage, that belligerent loyalty and emotional attachment to an unfashionable genre is what gives them such a granite like foundation to build upon. This is a work of love and that sounds in every note here; honestly they are simply bursting with enthusiasm here (in a slow, doom kind of way of course.) No wonder I Hate opened their doors to them. Rarely have I heard such knowledgeable and affectionate doom debut, and the songwriting is glowing with talent. The best thing of all, though, is that through all the influences on show there is that extra something, that individual personality shining out, ready for the next steps.
It’s a fantastic start. Can’t wait to see what comes now.