The Temple In The Underworld

It's rather strange that even though several long-term Root supporters consider this the weakest of the band's releases, they still regard it as a spectacular album. That just goes to show you how solid Big Boss, Blackie, and the minions really are - if a lesser recording in a group's discography is nothing but an endless barrage of brilliant solos, commanding vocals, thoughtful interludes and a fantastic all-encompassing concept, it's pretty difficult not to grant them an enormous amount of respect. Temple in the Underworld is about as dynamic and forcefully potent as any black metal recording can be, and while it's not as vicious and demonic as Zjeveni and Hell Symphony were, it moves along with so much charisma that it's impossible not to become utterly absorbed.

I imagine the problem most people have with this is how Root appear to be in two different places at once. Much of that blast beat and seething occult style has been disbanded for the epic and operatic transition that would later take over completely in The Book, and Big Boss rumbles along energetically performing baritone singing, high-pitched wailing, and his older twisted black madness approach all at the same time. Not only that, but everything has taken on a much more melodic, doomish, and altogether uplifting approach, closer to a scorching mist slowly circulating throughout the land and destroying it than a giant creature from the bowels of hell smashing it to pieces. Where the confusion occurs is that pieces of those old elements are still very much present; so many different layers and maneuvers can seep into a five minute period that it's altogether disorienting at times, and it can be difficult to follow what's going on.

The thing is, Root are talented enough to somehow pull all of it off extremely well! Every advance, every direction, every change in atmosphere... there was a time when I had convinced myself this was the weakest album as well, and I'm still having difficulty criticizing even one aspect. From the sludgy numbing power of "Aposiopesis" to the contorted chaos of "Message" to the chillingly dark title track, it's all simply a masterpiece. As far as I'm concerned, everything they've done is, as well as the other projects of Big Boss and Blackosh.

Over time, I've grown much closer to this than I am with The Book. Since Redblack recently re-issued it with Zjeveni and bonus tracks, there is absolutely no excuse for not owning Temple in the Underworld anymore. And if I had to choose the weakest album (though my opinion often changes on this) - I'd probably have to say Kargeras. But it's still an amazing release!

2002 hando