You kind of know what to expect from a cold, dark name like Stygian Temple and that’s just as well as these Germans don’t go down the normal public Internet route of giving much in the way of information away. Indeed we don’t even get an inkling of who is involved here and it’s down to the music to do the talking. There’s scant info with the press release apart from the promise of 41 minutes of ‘pure satanic fanaticism’ for those of us who we are cheekily told capable of perceiving it. As that’s my task, it’s good enough for me so time to enter the tomb.

A somewhat symphonic sounding intro heralds in these 7 dark hymns, slowly building tension and atmosphere with a brooding militant drum beat which sounds like it’s knocking on the gate to hell trying to gain admittance. The door is verily flung open with ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ majestically unveiling itself on back of a piercing vocal cry and shivering guitar lines. Everything is palpably trembling as we await for an explosion which comes in a vortex of spiralling guitars and beastly lower gurgles from the vocals. From slow, to mid-paced to a full on seething morass, this has taken us in and shown capabilities and it’s obvious the band are more than comfortable whatever speed they play at. It’s all very confident and precise, rich in melody and strong in feeling. I was impressed on very 1st play and this has grown with repeated spinning, the biggest surprise even if we don’t know who the players are is that this appears to be a debut release.

‘Cathartic Nimbus’ gallops out the traps and the band obviously salute the old ways of the black metal scene, there is nothing but pure respect here from the thorny malevolence of the guitars to the guttural bellow of the vocals. I noted on the booklet that the band salute Mayhem and cite them in tribute to ‘The Great Cosmic Void,’ but if I had been forced to guess at Stygian Temple’s origins I would have no doubt plumped for Swedish. There’s something about the melodic guitar lines that reminds a fair bit of the likes of Dissection and at full force the pulverising intent of Watain. Anyway it all comes back to Mayhem in the 1st place and fans of any of the aforementioned are no doubt going to be impressed by this. Further salutations are given on ‘Verbum Dei,’ with the shiver inducing guitar line on intro which invokes the majesty of the night sky with the spirit of Emperor entrenched. This slower number hits all the spots and really draws you in whilst you anticipate the huge barraging mass of the title track.

This might not be the most original album you will hear but damn that’s nothing to deter from its impact and this is a sign that’s an incredibly formidable one. All hail the glory of Stygian Temple!

(8/10 Pete Woods)