Band: Temple Of Baal
Label: Agonia Records
Genre: Blackened Death Metal
Release Date: October 2nd, 2015
Temple Of Baal is a French blackened death metal band from Paris. They’ve been around for quite some time now, active since 1998 to be precise. But in all honesty, I had never heard of them. And if it wasn’t for this review, their latest release would’ve gone completely under the radar for me as well. And I find that odd to say the least. Because from what I’ve heard, these guys can compete with the best in the genre.
Let us get to the point right away: Mysterium is a good album. It’s filled with plenty of great riffs and solo’s, features a really cool distorted bass sound that’s very much up front the entire time, it has a gloomy and evil feel to it and overall delivers a terrific mix of my two most beloved sub-genres; death and black metal. However, I had a rough time listening to this album more than once a day. While I really enjoy the overall sound and feel of this album, the tracks just tend to show too many similarities and some of them drag on a little too much. And because of that I was never really yearning for more.
What makes this album great is at the same time its major weakness: the considerably more black metal oriented, drawn-out, heavy riffing approach Temple Of Baal takes is what makes them stand out. And I really admire their unique sound within the genre. But it can turn out too be a little too much sometimes, up to a point where you could say it even becomes somewhat monotonous. That’s my only big complaint about this album, though. And it’s mostly the second half of this album that suffers from this. Another minor complaint is the production. The guitars get all the attention, and I’m sure that’s just how they wanted it. But it’s pernicious for the drums. They are too often too low in the mix. Skvm, the drummer, gets his moment of glory from time to time, but it’s something that bothered me constantly anyway.
Now for the good stuff, the opening track ‘Lord Of Knowledge And Death’ is a modest masterpiece. The intro sent chills down my spine, the imposing guitars that follow are vastly overwhelming and that kick drum that sets the whole frenzy off is a nice touch. This track also features hands down the best solo on this record, followed by the one on ‘Magna Gloria Tua’. Speaking of which, is another awesome track. This is Temple Of Baal and their atmosphere-building style of blackened death metal at their best. Intense and furious, slow and crushing, mind-bending and psychedelic… this track has it all.
The first half of ‘Divine Scythe’ is a faster and thrashier display of what Temple Of Baal is capable of. Some real head banging fun. After ‘Divine Scythe’ however, Temple Of Baal continues in that same steady pace for the rest of the album. Tracks like ‘Hosanna’ or ‘All In Your Name’ do feature some standout moments. The latter I remember mostly for its extremely heavy, echoing, distorted and straightforward stoner bass suddenly thrown in there. I felt as if I was listening to Sleep all at the sudden. ‘Hosanna’ on the other hand for its heavy, fast and aggressive chorus. But other tracks like ‘Holy Art Thou’ or ‘Black Redeeming Flame’ share so many similarities to other tracks, the second time around, you won’t even remember any of it.
I really enjoyed Mysterium, I genuinely did. But will I listen to it a lot in the future? Probably not. ‘Lord Of Knowledge And Death’ and ‘Magna Gloria Tua’ will end up in some of my playlists however. And if you’re a fan of the genre, this is definitely an album you should check out. If you’re not, you’re not missing out on a classic here either.
1 Lord of Knowledge and Death
2 Magna Gloria Tua
3 Divine Scythe
5 Dictum Ignis
6 Black Redeeming Flame
7 Holy Art Thou
8 All in Your Name
Total Playing Time: 55:28