Temple Nightside: Condemnation

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Temple Nightside: Condemnation
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Temple Nightside: Condemnation
Black Metal, Death Metal
Dark Descent Records
September 26th, 2013
Release length: 44:16
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As of late, it seems that Australia is playing host to a lot of emerging Black Metal bands. Temple Nightside is one of them, though this two-piece group also seems to be involved with a number of that nation’s other Metal bands. Comprised of drummer Yonn “Basilysk” Mclaughlin, who is also involved with Autokannon, Backyard Mortuary, Damarill, Nazxul, and a few others, as well as the man behind everything else, Mitchell “IV” Keepin, who also has a hand in Ill Omen, Nazxul, Perdition Oracle, and former member of many other bands, there’s a long line of Metal influence that easily makes this partnership enticing. Formed back in 2010, they wasted no time in dropping their first EP, Prophecies of Malevolence, a year later to decent reviews, following it up with Cogitating Vacuous, a split with Antediluvian in 2912. It’s now 2013, and the duo present their first full-length effort, Condemnation. Is this a solid slab of Black/Death Metal, or is this just a recording with mystery you won’t care to know the truth or answers to?

Right off the bat, Condemnation is meant to be a raw, analogue recording, but when the music on “Shrine of Summon (The Great Opposer)” begins after a haunting introduction, it feels more like a gimmick than anything. The instruments are at a low level, using a distortion that gives the mid-range pitch of the guitars a bit of an ominous vibe, while the drums vary in volume, though some parts are drowned out horribly, and some cymbals have a really obvious wash out to them. While it does make the music a bit foggy and oppressive, it sadly just doesn’t sound that good. The performances themselves, however, sound promising, especially in what you can hear of the drum kit. Had they ditched this element of the audio, this would be a really intimidating and bleak song. Instead, it comes off more like a dull roar highlighted by a few of the more vibrant snares and echoed guttural moans and wails that are the best element of the album, complimenting the atmosphere the band is going for quite well to make this song, and many others, far more haunting than they have any right to be.

This also plays a factor in trying to figure out the pace or rhythm of “Exhumation; Miseries Upon Imprecation.” This one often has a trudging pace that is quite oppressive, but given the way the drums are handled it’s hard to tell if they’re out of sync with the guitars or not since some parts are drowned at the start. It isn’t until the second time you hit the main verse you can pick up on what you missed at the beginning. The additional keyboards towards the end, or what seem to be, are a nice touch and does fill out the dull buzz more, giving things a stronger impact. “Dagger of Necromantic Decay (Eater of Hearts)” is another track that falls prey to these issues, focusing solely on the parts of the drums that are almost inaudible, relying on the louder, oppressive riffs to carry it, which they just can’t until the drums pick up about three minutes in, focusing on the louder parts of the kit, and slowly picking up the pace. Even the guitar solo at the end is well executed and makes the song far more uncompromising.

While the audio does greatly dilute the impact of the album, the songs themselves sound like they’re pretty solid and would benefit from the music even just being a little louder all around. “Dagger of Necromantic Decay (Eater of Hearts)” is a prime example of this about half way through, and it isn’t the only one. “Abhorrent They Fall…” is a better representation, having a little more enthusiasm in the performance, and focuses more on the parts of the drum kit that are probably closer to the microphone, making the song sound so much tighter. The guitars find the dull tones masked by the drumming, and the harsher, higher pitched vocals cover up some of the washout, adding a little more energy that makes the performance far more brutal and not forcing you to find what notes are missing to make sense of it all. On top of that, the atmospheric bits and pieces can really stick out, such as the screaming winds against a crackling roar of emptiness on “Pillar of Ancient Death (Commune 2.1),” creating a fantastic ambient piece that sets a truly desolate environment into motion. Finally there’s the extensive climax “Miasma,” which makes for a violent assault, then a crushing piece of Ambience that makes the closing five minutes a genuine trip into the depth of Hell.

All the pieces for a successful raw Black Metal recording are here, but the problem is that Temple Nightside went a bit too much on the analogue direction, causing it not only sound gimmicky, but also come across as a largely sterilized and washed out mess. In a way it seems like the band wanted to capture the magic that Havohej has in the studio, but took an entirely wrong path at some point in this process. Thankfully not all songs end up this way, and when the band breaks into the depth of enthusiastic rage and hatred, it’s easy to understand what their going for, and why so many people seem to be stricken by this two-piece. it hits you like a brick right upside your head. Unfortuantely, these are few and far between, but all the songs at least show promise masked in a veil too thick to let it gleam in the darkness. For Temple Nightside‘s first outing, Condemnation ends up a recording that would have made one hell Ambient album instead.

01. Shrine of Summon (The Great Opposer) – 5:20
02. Exhumation; Miseries Upon Imprecation – 6:32
03. Abhorrent They Fall… – 4:31
04. Pillar of Ancient Death (Commune 2.1) – 3:45
05. Dagger of Necromantic Decay (Eater of Heats) – 4:44
06. Ascension of Decaying Forms – 6:45
07. Command of the Bones (Commune 2.2) – 2:26
08. Miasma – 9:00
Initial Pressing Score: 4.5/10

Temple Nightside

Digital review copy of this release provided by Dark Descent Records via Clawhammer PR.