There are all kinds of underground doom/stoner metal releases coming out, with bands carving out their own corners of the genre. Heavy Temple, with their psychedelic overtones and varied songwriting refuse to be placed into one corner or the other. Their debut self-titled EP was a slow burn, a meditative half hour, brilliant in its visceral simplicity. But their new release is another beast entirely.
At four songs and 28 minutes, it matches the length of the first album, but goes in a completely different direction. The music is more energized, at times kicked into high gear. It’s more conventional, but retains the strong, catchy composition of the debut. The record commences with “Key and Bone” which starts as an easy-going headbanger with plenty of harmonies, but then has a galloping second half, reminiscent of Hawkwind. “Ursa Machina” follows, which feels more like a traditional album opener. It has a plodding beginning with lots of feedback seguing into riffs that would make their psychedelic and metal forefathers proud. This track proves that at times the band’s heaviness is in their ability to emphasize every note with a slow tempo.
“Pink Glass” feels like a natural followup, with riffs that glide across the stratosphere. It has this undeniably impeccable groove. The track switches it up a bit in the middle, very quiet with lonely bass licks (not too different from their debut), but then goes back to the usual chaos, a common trope in early hard rock. They saved the best for last in the final track, “In the Court of the Bastard King”. The songwriting on here is very choppy and staccato. Towards the end, it goes into an up-tempo dirge and has this primal quality. The whole song gives me Budgie vibes with mood changes and the fact that it feels like a really cohesive jam session.
High Priestess Nighthawk‘s voice shines here. While she was mostly quiet and somber on the first EP, this time around she’s belting out almost every line. I’d be lying if I said I understood what she’s saying, but I’m more concerned about how music makes me feel, not what it’s telling me.
The variety of sounds the band has presented is commendable, and they nail each one. I love it when bands break from their mold and try something different. The thing is though, Heavy Temple does not have a mold. There are some definite influences, but they do their own thing. They aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they don’t have to because the wheel is already so damn great.
1. Key and Bone
2. Ursa Machina
3. Pink Glass
4. In the Court of the Bastard King
Heavy Temple is:
High Priestess Nighthawk – Bass / Vocals
Arch Bishop Barghest – Guitar