Sunday, September 7, 2008

Review: Black Temple - Black Temple (2008)

Black Temple MySpace ]
Black Temple

When describing a band's sound, there once was a time when it was sufficient to simply say that they play "metal". Oh how times have changed. These days, bands are categorized to the Nth degree - Blackened Power Thrash with Viking influences, for example. I think this is a good indication as to the healthy state of heavy metal. So many bands incorporating so much innovation, the word "metal" is no longer detailed enough. On the other hand, things can get a little out of control. Take Finland's Black Temple, for instance. When I received their self-titled CD single, I was met with a promo letter declaring Black Temple to be the universe's first "Kung-Fu metal" band. Now there's a term I've never encountered before.

So what is Kung-Fu metal, exactly? Based on the two tracks presented here, I would have to say that this peculiar style of metal incorporates industrialized riffs, heavy use of vocal and guitar melodies, and a frontman who angrily croaks the lyrics. Come to think of it, Rammstein has been putting out some kick ass Kung-Fu metal for years! Actually, Black Temple is much more than just a clone of those famously angry Germans but the similarities are unmistakable. What sets these Finns apart from the Teutonic Industrial sub-genre of metal is their masterful use of vocal/guitar harmonies. Frontman Tang does sound a lot like Till Lindemann (Tang...Till, coincidence?) but sings entirely in English. As the lone guitarist, he also delivers a handful of scorching solos to go along with the locomotive riffs that are the backbone of the two tracks. The songs have more than a touch of a Power Metal feel to them, due in large part to the backing vocal hooks from Alexi Parviainen. Although not really an "official" member of Black Temple, Alexi's contributions are crucial to the memorability of these two songs. While both are excellent, I find "Luxury Girl" to be the strongest.

Black Temple is in studio as of this review, recording a full-length that - if these two tracks are a good indication - will be an instant metal classic. Expectations have definitely been set that high, for me at least. Do yourselves a favor and keep an eye on these guys.

Track Listing
1Party Material3:37
2Luxury Girl3:52
Total Runtime7:29

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Review: Canobliss - Psychothermia (2008)

Canobliss [ Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter ]

San Diego isn't exactly known for producing highly successful metal outfits (As I Lay Dying being the most "mainstream" band from there these days), but there have been some notables over the years - Cage, Cattle Decapitation, and Benedictum just to name a few. Lurking in the underground since the late '90s has been Canobliss, a progressive thrash five-piece that just might have what it takes to be the next big name out of San Diego. Formed over a decade ago by guitarist Samson Pedroza and bass player Chenzo Vidalez, Canobliss has released three albums prior to this year's EP Psychothermia.

It's immediately evident that the members of Canobliss aim to be taken seriously. Psychothermia is a well-crafted release, everything from the professional grade production job to the compelling artwork reveals the bands high level of commitment. Ultimately, though, it's the music that makes or breaks a band. Canobliss strive for a very progressive strain of thrash metal that can be rightfully compared to bands such as Tool (particularly on the title track), System of a Down, and to a lesser extant Coheed & Cambria. The song structures are complex, incorporating multiple time signatures, intricate riffs, and angered solos. Frontman Johan Maldonado is an excellent find for the band, coming on board in 2006. He blends a clean, very emotive style with harsh outbursts to consistently deliver a gripping performance. Successfully executing each of the various elements heard on Psychothermia is no small feat, and to nail them all underscores the talent of Canobliss.

As I mentioned earlier, "Psychothermia" exudes a distinctive Tool influence. Aside from that track, the members of Canobliss manage to keep their influences subdued by incorporating the best of each with their own style to create a sound that is both unique and familiar. While each track is built around separate and distinct elements, there remains a common thread that ties them together and results in a cohesive album. From Mike Russo's furious snare and Maldonado's semi-hardcorish barks on "Slingshot" to the Spanish-themed leads on "Adios", Psychothermia is a remarkable album that I highly recommend to fans of complex metal. Keep your eye on these guys.

Track Listing
1 Notorious 3:44
2 Psychothermia 5:22
3 Convicted Again 4:11
4 Adios 4:17
5 Take Vics 3:48
6 Slingshot 3:35
7 Pangea 5:32
8 Convicted Again [Radio Edit] 4:12
Total Runtime 34:41

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