Review – Temple of Dagon: Revelations of the Spirit

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Self-release / Black Voodoo Records (Vinyl)
  • Release Date: June 9th, 2015
  • Genre: Crust Punk, Death Metal, Thrash Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Temple of Dagon is a five-piece outfit based out of North Hollywood, California, that is heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It even says so in the band’s moniker, channeling both a name of a story and entity from his mythos that also stands as a Mesopotamian god. They formed back in 2009 as a four-piece, issuing their debut EP Book of Azathoth later that year, and then their debut full-length Rituals of the Deep in 2014 themselves. The long gap between releases seems to be due to losing three band members in that span of time. In 2011, their drummer, Dude, left the group and was replaced by Gio (Merciless Death, ex-Hexen), who also was out by 2013, finding Nelson filling the spot. Bassist Eli also left in 2012, while Jacob (ex-Empty Vessels) joined as a guitarist. Now, about a year after the last release, and some time after these line-up changes, Temple of Dagon entered Earth Capital Studios as a five-piece to record their second EP, Revelations of the Spirit, which is being handled by Black Voodoo Records in vinyl format, as well as by the band for digital distribution. But is this outing worth checking out, or is it better left glancing over?

In keeping with the Lovecraftian themes of the release, “The Evocation” starts off with a slow ritualistic march that slowly builds to a short burst of crossover influenced death metal that acts as an infectious introduction to what the band is largely about. That catchy performance gives way to “The Horrid King”, an odd mixture of nearly all the styles that Temple of Dagon dabbles in. For the most part, however, it comes off a hardcore attitude driven version of later Deceased laced with Crowbar thanks to the deeper doom metal shouting vocals that really could use a little extra range – a plight that much of the release suffers from, sadly – as well as the rawer nature of the recording giving things a bit of a sludgier disposition.

“The Wandering Spirit” ends up a largely different type of composition. The crust punk elements are far more obvious, laced in with some catchy mid-pace thrashing that picks up about a minute in. While the song itself has a great deal of dexterity, the vocals, however, remain just as monotone in their shouting to the point that they sound flat compared to the varying atmospheres and styles that shift seamlessly throughout the near six-minute offering. What starts as a relatively straight-lined hardcore encounter becomes a groove oriented death metal piece with additional sludge felt in the guitars and deep pulses of the bass that add an enlightening tone to the song as opposed to the fairly dismal first few minutes of this track, as well as “Nexus of Reality”. This final track has its fair share of chugging guitars, again playing up the hardcore angle of the group’s sound in the intro, as well as with a little extra speed around the three-and-a-half minute mark.

Temple of Dagon

As a whole, Revelations of the Spirit is a good EP, but that’s about as far as one can go with the compliments. The analog traits, deeper tuning, as well as the loud presence of the bass guitar all work to make this effort sound gritty, which plays off what doom metal aspects appear. None of the four tracks presented really sound like one another outside the vocals, which is something definitely in favor of the band. However, it’s still incredibly odd having a hardcore attitude from the flat deeper shouting where it really shouldn’t exist, such as during “The Horrid King” and its melodic atmospheres. Despite forming in 2009, Temple of Dagon still has room to grow as an act, unless all these gripe are just the band tackling an EP which makes it seem like they are still unsure in their direction as a unit, or just flow better when outside the typical restrictions of this type of smaller endeavor. But, however you look at it, Revelations of the Spirit is far from a bad release, though there’s enough conflicting much of the time to keep the listener from being able to fully embrace one aspect of the release or another.

Temple of Dagon

Digital review copy of this release provided by Black Voodoo Records via Earsplit PR.