There’s so much good music in the world, gems hidden in a sea of the bland and the bilious, and too little time to go looking for it (“first world problem”, as I believe the youngsters like to say.), which is why this reviewing lark can be a real treat when a friendly editor sends a thing of rare beauty your way, in this case ‘Chassit’, the latest EP by Philadelphia’s own Heavy Temple. A band that has managed to escape my attention so far, on the strength of this release they are a band I will be actively seeking out.
‘Key and Bone’ opens the offering with a timeless instrumental intro that would not be out of place on the soundtrack of ‘The Witch’ a film that I know divided opinion but I found fascinating, the haunting cello and ritualistic chanting bringing to mind the isolation and magic of the movie. That is all before the song proper fires up, dirty, laconic riffs and bass complimenting the occult vocals of the fantastically named High Priestess Nighthawk; throw in a blasting psychedelic freak-out towards to the end of the track, and surely the band must be a certainty to play the likes of Desertfest or Freak Valley in Europe, or any of the Doomed and Stoned style festivals in the US whose line ups I stare at in awe and jealousy.
‘Ursa Machina’ follows hard and heavy in full Sabbath worshipping mode, although a mischievous part of my mind did start to hear the voice of Nigel Tufnel saying “and oh ‘ow they danced, the little children of Staahnn ‘Enge” over the first few bars! However, when the actual lyrics cut out of the speaker like a ritual summoning any thoughts of comedy were washed away by a deluge of fuzz, a sound that is further exploited in ‘Pink Glass’, a number that turns up the retro feel, bringing to my mind the proto-metal sound of the likes of Black Widow at their heaviest. The EP ends with ”In The Court of the Bastard King’, a number that could indeed be the bastard child of King Crimson’s Prog masterpiece, throwing doom tipped barbs of spite at its hated parent whilst having to acknowledge a shared musical DNA.
As an introduction to the band, ‘Chassit’ is an excellent starting point, and I hope it is also a precursor of albums to come. Furthermore, as another year goes by without Electric Wizard, the yardstick against which so many acts are measured, releasing new material, Heavy Temple is certainly making a strong bid to fill that void.