Temple of Baal – Mysterium (Agonia Records)Thursday, 1st October 2015
With many bands that started out in the raw black metal arena, expansion comes in the form of integrating death metal to the formula. Temple of Baal have had mixed successes with the experimentation, with their last album, Verses of Fire, not receiving as many accolades as some of their previous work. So back to the drawing board, and Mysterium thrusts more black metal into the proportion. The result is successful for the most part.
Mysterium is not a one-and-done listen. The songs have depth to them, and with the 6 to 9 minute length span, have plenty going on from start to finish. Many tracks shift from atmosphere to frantic speed to mid-tempo dirges and all things between. With an elevated black metal front, there is a definite grandeur to the riffing and much of it comes across with that black metal majesty seeping from the melodies. “Magna Gloria Tua”and “Black Redeeming Flame” are clear highlights in this regard, with a number of beautiful (yet evil sounding) riffs that you’ll definitely want to return to. There are still clear ‘death metal’ moments though, as evidenced in parts of “Divine Scythe” that switch from majesty to visceral aggression. The bombardment of blast beats (along with the black/death format) is bound to call attention to some Behemoth-isms but there’s not really a moment that one can claim Temple of Baal is going for copycat status.
There’s really only two small things holding this one down. The first is the similarity within the solos – often seeming to move in the same directions and ending on some sort of held squeal. The second is the more authentic black metal production. It works quite exceptionally with the black metal elements, but the more death metal oriented moments don’t have enough juice behind them to be entirely effective. But that being said, there’s still plenty to enjoy with Mysterium for black/death fans to dig into. Ultimately, this one sits in the win column due to Temple of Baal’s ability to fuse many elements into their sound while keeping the black metal mystique intact.