Tempel – On the Steps of the Temple (Prosthetic Records)

Sunday, 19th January 2014
Rating: 8/10

It’s kind of interesting to think that after centuries of musical compositions across the span of Western Civilization – from the Medieval to the Classical of the modern age, that a good share of it has been music written without the human voice in mind.  When looking into the relatively recent era of rock and roll, instrumental music is largely uncommon.  Surf rock pioneer Dick Dale has been doing it for years, and of course the virtuoso guitar players of modern times as well, but for whatever reason our appetite for rock music is usually not sated without the main course…the vocals.  These, which normally make or break a band anyway, can almost seem like a dumb effort to engage when done for the sake of itself.  After all, how many times have we heard a good sounding band with a bad singer, so hence, a bad band?  Too damn many.

Phoenix, AZ’s Tempel are an instrumental post-metal band who undeniably have no need for another cook in the kitchen, so to speak, as they compose weighty and emotive music that lets the music speak for itself through sonic peaks and valleys of darkly melodic and ethereal doom.  With obvious comparisons to genre favorites Pelican, there is also present in Tempel’s music a bit more darkness and gravity than the aforementioned Chicagoans.  At times I can draw comparisons to the crushing doom of Norway’s Sahg (track #3 “The Mist that Shrouds the Peaks”).

While just a duo (two guys names Ryan and Rich), the sound is very full indeed – bass, rhythm and lead guitars bathed in atmospheric keyboard and driven by versatile, pounding drum work.  Here you’ll find much texture, effective harmonies and adept musicianship creating an ominous yet promising, introspective yet decisive, 52 minute journey of heaviness.  It should be noted that Tempel superbly emotes the theme of the album.  I am left with a sense of satisfaction at reaching a hallowed destination after enduring the perils of the natural world, as well as facing the inner fears of the human mind.   A great debut album for Tempel.

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