Saturday, March 22, 2014

Erebus Enthroned - Temple Under Hell (2014)

If the incredibly distinct art style here seems familiar, it's probably that you've seen the work of Russia's Denis Forkas Kostromitin on the latest Behemoth album, The Satanist, or perhaps on the debuts of lesser known acts like Altars and Wrathprayer. I find it incredibly oblique yet alluring, and while I've no idea whether he just has it commissioned or he actually sits through the albums in advance and uses them to summon up imagery, they're almost always a lock for the sounds they herald. The Erebus Enthroned sophomore Temple Under Hell is no exception, a murky concoction of black metal extremity which is true to the purpose of 2011's Night's Black Angel: lightless nihilism, fleshy and misanthropic dissonance, no source of comfort or happiness or warmth anywhere.

In some ways I might define this disc as 'bog standard' it certain doesn't reach far beyond the bounds of its genre, and thus you'll only discern slight differences in production from other works in the field. I certainly felt a few traces of De Mysteriis dom Sathanas-era Mayhem on the first album, and those remain prevalent here, though the music has a bit of an awkward, swarthy eeriness to it that reminds me of the last 3-4 efforts from another Enthroned (the Belgian one). Riffs vary between all-out assaults of cavernous tremolo picked patterns to rolling, churning chords being crested by sprays of gleaming dissonance (as in "Trisagion"), but this whole fucking thing is infernally dark and impenetrable, masked with a caul of gloominess, brutality, and occult hunger. Anyone remember the 'black pudding' monster from D&D? Okay, if those things could wear headphones, this is what they'd probably listen to while they're slinking along the cellars, crypts and corridors of Abyssal shrines and torture chambers. The album title is just too accurate, and if you don't come out of the music feeling less hopeful for your future than you went into it, then congratulations, you are fucking immune to the affectations of the black metal genre.

It's not incredibly unique, once again having components that are drawn from an obvious source or three, but where it might lack in nuance or creativity it compensates with harrowing effectiveness. Plenty of details in the vocal performance, which ranges from growls and rasps to haunted howls and groans, basically whatever manifestations of pure evil the drummer/singer 'N' conjures forth straight form the nether. Guy sounds like a living digderidoo in the middle of the title track, which is perhaps the most explosive piece though it drags a little long at nine minutes. Also want to comment that the bass tone here is great, nice and loud and gives you a morbid substrate for the thinner, dissonant driving guitars that fly all over it; while the drums are more than up to the savage standard of the genre. Blasting effortlessly, but also creating a vast calamity upon which the instruments are forced to sit uncomfortable. Really, Temple Under Hell is just another 'total package' sort of black metal album which should draw in purists who can listen beyond the fact that they probably own this already through its ancestral bloodlines to the mid 90s. Greatness? Perhaps not yet, but I'd say these New South Welshmen have edged out the first album with this offering. Goes well with black candlelight and the consumption of a still-beating human heart.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

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