Saturday, October 10, 2009

Templestowe - Cimmerian (2009)

Templestowe is a young five-piece band from Australia which performs a brand of high octane melodic death/thrash metal. For an unsigned band's debut album, this is a fairly professional offering, from the cool cover art & logo to the recording itself. Some might take a look at the band's image or listen to Jon Hocking's rather hoarse vocals and mistake this for a metalcore band, but I assure you that's not the case. It's obvious the band has various influences within the melodic death genre, but also a sensibility for good old heavy metal music that translates into a hungry originality. Cimmerian was mixed by Scott Carter of Aeon of Horus (I reviewed their debut last year), and in fact Templestowe once had several members of that band in the ranks, but the sound is nothing alike. It's also professionally engineered and mastered.

"The Pendulum" is a brief instrumental lead-in, with a flowing lead over some warm-up drums, before "This Wrathful Abyss" drives forward with some nasty riffing into a melodic chorus, and later a bluesy solo with a solid thrash riff below; followed by a pretty ballsy bridge with some riffing akin to Testament. "Vacant Illusions" is a mid paced thrasher with some good dual melodies, which picks up pace into what is almost melodic black metal. "Entities" is a graceful but jolting track which a number of good riffs, I like the breakdown that makes up the verse with its circular riff. Moshable, but not cheap. "Embers" is a bluesy instrumental that leads into the charging "Oath of Failure", a melodeath track that plays by the book but features some decent riffing. Title track "Cimmerian" is yet another instrumental, this of some mighty acoustic guitars that finally surge into some electric chords and a lead. "Like Parasites" and "Desolate Obscurity" are two of the strongest tracks on the album, and the closing "Relics" is nearly nine minutes of showcase for the entire range of the band, with a savage thrashing end section.

Not all of Cimmerian's tracks would burn into my memory, but there is enough here to reveal a vibrant potential within this band. I grew accustomed to the vocals, but they were a little more throaty and slobberish than I am fond of (though not as distracting as a lot of shitty metalcore bands). There are, however, some moments where they strike with precise punchiness. This band is a better alternative to overrated crap like the Black Dahlia Murder or Three Inches of Blood, but with a similar flair for balanced melody and aggression. One might compare them to a more prehistoric cousin to Insomnium or Kalmah, without the keyboards.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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