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.
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