There’s more to the death/doom hybrid than just slowing your roll every once in a while. Taking that level of ferociousness and consistently landing in the pocket of groove (which I envision as being made of leather and studded, and capable of holding multiple invisible oranges) is essntial. It’s something bands like High on Fire excel at, being able to stay loose and dirty even as guitars, bass, and drums lock seamlessly to pummel you to the ground, and with their second album Lords of Death it’s safe to say Temple of Void are on their way to those same hallowed heights.
Coming out of the bowels of Detroit, Michigan the band immediately showed a firm grasp of the mid-paced groove stomp on their 2013 demo, but comparing the tracks there to their final incarnations on 2014 debut Of Terror and the Supernatural you can hear the fuzzed out growth: things move a little more deliberately, there’s a deeper fuzz to the guitars that make the tunes even gnarlier. A dynamic song like “Exterminate Gaze” with its palm-muted chug nails bands like Bolt Thrower and Jungle Rot’s ability to emphasize that relentless march forward. But then you also have those snail crawling doom lines and the band sinks to another level of Hell. The band rightfully got a lot of kudos for the debut, and could have been content to play with their established style on a follow-up, but Lords of Death takes a nastier, faster route.
Things seem about the same tone-wise with “The Charnel Unearthing,” an instrumental opener that again nails that specific chug as clean arpeggios ring above the grind. But with “Wretched Banquet” come the dive bombs, and a call that this record is going to get really nasty really quick. Mike Erdody’s vocals are somehow even deeper and more filthy than on the debut, and the band slips in and out of the sludge mud to channel early Slayer in between the death and doom. When the guitars lock for some diminished harmonies or run off on a mournful wail like in the middle section of “The Hidden Fiend” it feels like everyone has distilled the music to its essence. Forget the lack of fat, Lords of Death is desiccated skin and bones, the dusty exhalation of the undead come to sever your life and it is brilliant.
My sole complaint is all that fat trimming leaves the album a little short: when all is said and done we have six full tracks plus a brief acoustic interlude and that opening instrumental. But if you’re going to have a problem, leaving fans wanting more seems a good problem to have. Temple of Void have taken the three years between albums to really hone their delivery to a razor’s edge, and I’m primed for more whenever they can get it out to me.