I have a couple bones to pick with the debut self-titled album by Tempel. The first bone is that no, it is not Tempel, the excellent post/death/black-metal band that released 2015’s epic The Moon Lit Our Path. The second is that after I got over my disappointment… I was annoyed to realize that this album is a pretty god-damn good album that liberally borrows from countless metal genres.
You could be forgiven for thinking, at first, that this album is a collection of Kvelertak b-sides. The band is quick to tout the connection, and who can blame them, because Kvelertak is a hell of a band. I’ve loved them since I first heard them play live on BBC Radio back around 2011. Add to that, their first publicly released track sounds so much like Kvelertak it shocked me to learn that the only overlapping band member is Kjetil Gjermundrød, Kvelertak’s drummer. All the shared touring together must have rubbed off on Tempel, since occasionally the lead parts are so similar it’s surprising that the two bands don’t share a guitarist.
What this album is not, however, is a Kvelertak album. It hard to peg exactly what it is, but I can tell you that it is nine fun tracks that will have you pumping your fist in the air, taking a corner faster than you probably should, and contemplating throwing yourself in the mosh-pit even if you normally wouldn’t. Don Anderson of KHôRADA argues that there are so many metal sub-genres now that they’ve lost all meaning, and so the best descriptor is to just call it ‘heavy metal.’ Well, Tempel’s album is absolutely heavy metal.
The production is raw but balanced, evoking basement bands which are the hallmark of hardcore, but with enough attention to detail that it’s obvious they knew what they were doing, and did it on purpose. The riffs are catchy and fun, and it’s easy to tell that this band both does and doesn’t take itself seriously. I mean, there’s a track that starts with the unmistakable sproing of a jaw harp.
The drumming is above and beyond, driving the riffs as hard as the guitars. The tones are crunchy and unexpectedly low gain for a band this heavy, which makes them stand out in a sea of infinite metal options. I went back to listen to Kvelertak’s latest, in the wake of this album, and it confirmed what I suspected: Tempel brings back the energy and ingenuity of the first two Kvelertak albums which were sorely lacking on Nattesferd.
When all is said and done, if you enjoy any kind of metal, you should definitely give Tempel a try, because there’s something here for everyone. Like a strong beer from a great craft brewery, there’s an astonishing amount of depth and character. I’ve listened to this album easily fifteen times and I still can’t pick out any influence or genre elements strong enough that I could name them. Ultimately this album is as intoxicating as alcohol itself, so soak it up and have some fun.