Following their stunning debut album On The Steps of the Temple, the Arizona-based instrumental duo Tempel take their sound to the next level on their forthcoming sophomore effort “The Moon Lit Our Path”, due June 16 in North America, June 15 in the UK/EU and June 19 in Germany.
Recorded at guitarist Ryan Wenzel’s Phoenix-area Arrowhead Studio, “The Moon Lit Our Path” — which features intricate artwork by Lucas Ruggieri (Kylesa, Dragged Into Sunlight), as seen above — features five colossal tracks that mix progressive, black, death and post-metal into one mammoth sonic cocktail.
Today, Tempel is pleased to reveal the album’s opening track, the eight-minute composition Carvings in the Door. The song is now available as an “instant grat” download with digital pre-orders of the new album on iTunes and Bandcamp. Fans can also stream the track in its entirety on PureGrainAudio or directly below via YouTube.
When Burzum released Hvis Lyset Tar Oss in 1994, underground metal was forever split. This album featured longer songs where concept was closely intertwined with song structure, and riff shape defined by mood. It both made undone past paradigms and raised the bar.
After that point, black metal and death metal deflated. The initial rise of ideas created in reaction to outrage at a dying civilization was gone, and nothing else propelled the genre forward, so it fell into self-imitation based on outward traits. Further, few bands could handle the raised bar, so it was “explained away” in social circles and the music tended toward the more primitive, not less.
Thus is the problem with raising the bar. Once you have done it, people either rise to the challenge and forge ahead in the new language, or have to hide the fact that they’re here for the gravy train which means they want to make the same dumbass music they would make in rock, pop, punk or blues, but use some distortion and call it “black metal.” That leads to high margins: the product is cheap to make because it’s a well-known type, but it has a higher markup due to novelty.
However, unless you’re deaf, you’ve noticed that the output of underground metal has seriously flagged in quality since the mid-1990s. Not so in quantity, of course, where we have more bands than ever before who have better production, are better instrumentalists, and generally more savvy at the music industry. Unfortunately the music they produce is not as good as what a few lonely intelligent outcasts did in the early 1990s.
This leads us back to a question of metal’s growth. Do we keep up with the raised bar? Style is not substance, but the two are related. Without enough substance, style never evolves; without the right style, substance often gets lost. Artists tend to visualize the two at the same time as part of the same articulation of an idea that they are communicating through mood, or the sensation of perceiving something and wanting to engage with it. In theory, metal could continue with what it has, using the same styles but writing new music, and many bands have succeeded in that. But keeping up with the raised bar has some advantages.
First, instrumental metal would be difficult and this would draw a line between metal and the pop, rock, blues and rap and place us closer to ambient and classical in the respect scale. Take for example this quote from educator Liam Malloy:
“In the past, heavy metal has not been taken seriously and is seen as lacking academic credibility when compared with other genres such as jazz and classical music. But that’s just a cultural construction.”
Second, this change would get rid of the vocal problem in metal. We know what death/black metal vocals are, but the shock has worn off as they’ve been appropriated by other genres. They are not extreme anymore, and overused by those who like them because a plausible imitation is easy to pull off. On the other hand, shouting vocals (Pantera) are annoying, most male singing sounds like drunk guys brawling, and the high pitched “operatic” vocals divide an audience. No vocals, no worries.
Third, this would make it easier to tell real metal bands from the weekenders. Real bands can put together long pieces that make sense, where the weekends just want the appearance thereof. Contrast real progressive rock like Yes to the somewhat paltry substitute in Opeth. Opeth have nailed the aesthetic, but not the underlying musical depth or density. When you hear the two together, it’s clear they are from different genres.
Fourth, instrumental metal would enable greater riffiness in metal. Already there’s a storm of protest when “riff salad” songs emerge, even if the riff makes sense. Much of death metal was an end run around using constant verse-chorus vocals, thus liberating guitars to create more interplay between riffs. Without vocals to keep bringing the song back to repetition, riffs could have greater leeway and repetition would exist not out of standard song form, but to emphasize parts of the song that need repeating for the sake of atmosphere.
Many people out there want metal to go instrumental. While it loses the masculine and terrifying aspect of the vocals, it encourages a competition among metal bands to not only preserve that but make it more extreme among their instrumentals. And if anything, that’s closer to the spirit of metal itself.
Ihsahn is recording his upcoming solo album right now in Norway according to Blabbermouth. Furthermore Ihsahn believes that black metal is not a specific type of heavy metal music but rather a mind set and that the random progressive rock and jazzy instrumental masturbation Ihsahn performs now is still actually “black metal” despite not even being metal music to begin with, yet alone black metal.
There remains a massive confusion in mainstream media, society, and culture regarding metal as a truly separate genre of music. The mainstream media and leftist-controlled academia regard metal merely as a subgenre of rock music, rather than its own distinct genre. This is of course absurd. If metal isn’t its own entirely separate genre of music then jazz, folk, country, and blues are all rock ‘n’ roll too as they can all be played with the same basic set of modern instruments. Since this topic is well-documented in Death Metal Underground’s extensive Heavy Metal FAQ, in this article I will merely layout some basic musical differences between the genres and provide a few appropriate examples to hammer it down into the brains of the ignorant.
New Wave of British Heavy Metal Band are finally releasing their long in the words album, Room of Shadows. Room of Shadows consists of unreleased vocal tracks from deceased frontman Terry Jones that were supposed to be released as Never Quite Dead in 2014. Never Quite Dead was delayed, the instrumental tracks were rerecorded, and the album became Room of Shadows, which is to finally see release on Temple of Mystery Records on August 24, 2017.
Tau Cross previewed the cover art and a track of their upcoming Pillar of Fire album on Relapse Records. “Deep State” sees the supergroup headed by Rob “The Baron” Miller regress towards a hybrid of crust, thrash, and modern rock as seen on the final Amebix album, Sonic Mass. While free of the overt Brit pop and Godsmack of Sonic Mass, “Deep State” is still almost static like a rock song with riffs around a static chord for catchy rhythms and vocal hooks to be arranged around. The instrumental music is a tired retread that I have heard at least a few dozen speed metal band do better before.
“Nothing gold can stay,” reminds us the poet Robert Frost, and this applies to black metal. Its gold occurred between 1991 and 1994, when its progenitors innovated a new style and took it to great heights, but after Burzum – Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, it became clear that black metal was not content to be a normal, rock-style music genre.
Nuclear War Now! Productions has re-released Demoncy‘s hypothermic Within the Sylvan Realms of Frost, continuing the independent metal label effort to repackage every outstanding death and black metal classic into commercialized fodder for every awkward hipster deadbeat lurking online. While clearly this reissue CD is a cash grab from Ixithra (You can still find the Faustian Dawn / Within the Sylvan Realms of Frostanthology CD for under ten bucks on Discogs) marketed towards recent nu-metal drop outs who never heard the original, revisiting of Demoncy’s most mysterious full length is certainly worth a listen as it benefits from a much improved sound quality. Since every re-release inadvertently strips the original album of its cult status and lore let’s make the most of our opportunity to embark on one more journey through the frigid tundra of Demoncy’s best kept secret.
A member of 1970s British progressive rock band Beckett is suing Iron Maiden for a six line lyrical tribute in ‘”Hallowed Be Thy Name” off Number of the Beast to one of Steve Harris’s favorite prog rock songs, “Life’s Shadow”. Some random band manager Barry McKay is suing Iron Maiden on behalf of Brian “Ingham” Quinn, one of the two credited writers of “Life’s Shadow”. McKay is alleging that Iron Maiden came to a secret settlement with the other writer credited on the record, Bob Barton, and that Quinn really wrote the song himself back in 1969 rather than in the early 70s when both of them were in Beckett. Barton is also being sued and McKay is now trying to hit Iron Maiden up for a “few hundred pounds per live performance” for a license to perform their own music.
Former and probably current crack smoker Bobby Liebling of long running stoner rock, pseudo-metal band Pentagram was arrested for apparently assaulting his elderly mother, causing him to be dropped from Pentagram’s upcoming European tour. Liebling famously was filmed smoking crack in his elderly parents’ basement in suburban Maryland for the Pentagram documentary Last Days Here. Liebling’s drug problems and abhorrent personal behavior have long sabotaged any chance Pentagram may have had at creative of commercial success.