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Wednesday 21 December 2022

Reviews: The Temple, Evil Oath, Highway Queen, Rokets (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

The Temple - Of Solitude Triumphant (I Hate Records)

Formed in Thessaloniki in 2006 The Temple are a maudlin, grief stricken, doom band who bring only the biggest riffs and lowest notes possible. Of Solitude Triumphant is their second album and follows 2016's Forevermourn along with their previous EP and single split with Acolytes Of Moros, it's another compendium of foundation rattling riffs, mournful vocals and conceptual lyrics about a souls journey into being. As with many doom heroes, but especially Warning who The Temple use as a huge influence, the lyrics and music have a spiritual edge.

Me To Lichno Astrou the opening choral chants that are prominent in a sung mass, though of course they are put to the heavy rhythm of Father Alex (bass), Stefanos (guitar) and Pavlos (drums) as those harmonic leads of Felipe edge into the epic doom of While Heaven Wept, Atlantean Kodex and Solstice. With Profound Loss, the melodic lead shifting into the slowest offering here. The vocals of Father Alex too are vicious when he growls but the cleans not quite up to the earnest longing of Patrick Walker but near enough that there's a lot of passion and loss that comes through on Reborn In Virtue.

More chants come on the A White Flame For The Fear Of Death before there's much more riffage and yearning vocals, the bells toll for the speedier picking of The Lord Of Light. Of Solitude Triumphant is another superior selection of doom from The Temple, kneel at their altar and pray to the riffs. 9/10

Evil Oath - A Kingdom Of Fire (Self Released)

A debut back metal album can often be drawn into the world of toilet black metal where the production is tinny and hollow. No there's the trve cvlt lot that think this is how it should be, music played as if recorded on a worn out tape player, down the corridor from the actual recording studio, but I prefer the style that actually has production and broader sound range than just fuzzy tremolo riffs and washed out blast beats.

Thankfully Evil Oath have taken their musical influence from the second/third wave, the tremolo picking obviously still the major factor but the use of orchestras and synths to create atmosphere, building a stronger more cinematic foundation for them to build their extreme metal sound on. Recorded by the band members, Mexicution (drummer), M.C. Abagor (guitar/vocals), Rydall (guitar/vocals), Stormcrow (bass, vocals). A Kingdom On Fire was mixed and mastered by Van Voorst to make the record sound bigger than many others that are only on their debut full length.

What I will say is that the intro feels as if it's all out of whack sound wise, thankfully the first track proper As The Tenebris Vortex Opens, gets going the cleaner, bigger mix/mastering makes all the difference as the instrumentation is crystal clear, the riffs shift between traditional black and death metal, while the vocals bark and growl, conceiving and praising The Devil. 

After a few tracks of ferocious blasting we get a dark synth interlude before the vicious extreme metal comes back, Evil Oath reminding me of Celtic Frost, Darkthrone and even Morbid Angel, the vocals utilising that Tom G Warrior grunt as the technicality never overshadows the aura of the songs, just heightens their appeal. So many black metal bands try to be more 'authentic' than the other, by making it raw and ragged Evil Oath however are content in making well produced, song driven extreme metal. 8/10 

Highway Queen - Bitter Soul (Rockshots Records)

Finnish rockers Highway Queen have released their debut album Bitter Soul through Rockshots Records, coming just before the end of the year it's an album with a bit of proto-metal and melodic rock fused together in a style of Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Lucifer and The Blues Pills all melded in one place. Having released a few singles and EP's on Inverse records they have brought their grittier, occult rocking to Rockshots Records as the spectral vocals of Virpi Kääriäinen soar on top of the distorted riffs from Teemu Kääriäinen.

Get On Your Knees being one of the many witchy sounding tracks, though on I Lean On You there's a tribal feel to the drumming of Henri Backman as we go into some alt rock ala Skunk Anansie, Here I Am a bit lighter as the melodic rock/NWOBHM overtones kick in. Bitter Soul is a record that is perfectly listenable, but not much more than that, there are a multitude of bands doing this kind of music so Rocket Queen find themselves sitting in the middle of the pack. 6/10

Rokets - Break Free (The Sign Records)

More Finnish rock n roll, this time with bag full of attitude as Rokets release their second album, the five piece packing this nine song album with garage/fuzz and 12 Bar R&B, Burn Down The Wall gets things started with firebrand Wilko Johnson guitar stabs and some boogie woogie piano playing. Destroyer keeps the pace fast, the likes of Nashville Pussy, Lords Of Altamont and of course Swedish legend The Hellacopters can all be heard on Break Free

Formed in 2017 they have been carving up Europe and the USA since then, this second album coming from lots of honing on the live stage and also that the members of this band are all long time parts of the Finnish underground so there's a lot of experience to show. Things get a little lighter on Best Kept Secret before the punk rock comes back on Straight From The Source, which has to be a Ramones homage. 

Best played in a sweaty club through some fuzzy Vox speakers, Break Free gets wild and raucous but never evokves into anything more to than competent rock n roll. 7/10

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