Temple of Baal
"Lightslaying Rituals"

(Agonia Records 2009)Temple of Baal - Lightslaying Rituals

In black metal's staid universe, any bit of innovation or differentiation is a welcome sound to ears that get battered by endless waves of lo-fi buzzing. That's why bands like Nachtmystium and Deathspell Omega get all the girls (figuratively), while the guys stuck in 1994 more often than not are shut in their mothers' basements, practicing how to make up their own corpsepaint and trolling eBay for the rarest of rare demo recordings (this is very literal). With their latest album, Temple of Baal have shuffled their spiked boots in the right direction, taking their kvlt black metal chalices and dipping them in the inky pool of hellish death metal.

"Lightslaying Rituals" is almost too meaty for a black metal album; Temple of Baal toss around chunks of rotting carcass like a rabid demon in a slaughterhouse. Of course there's the barely-controlled trem picking you'd expect, but the band employs the kind of heft usually reserved for acts that write lyrics about causes of death and evisceration plagues. The themes here seem to be demonic or something, although it's tough to tell due to guitarist/vocalist Amduscias' bloody phlegm-flinging growl. There isn't a great deal of variety on the album, just a consistent, barreling train of brutality. That being said, it isn't a monotonous listen, and each track has its own bludgeoning identity.

Mixing two subgenres of metal isn't exactly fusing atoms, but Temple of Baal must have a home chemistry set, because their seemingly simple alchemy is devastatingly effective. The band manages to splice the most effective strands of black and death metal together, mixing the raw-nerve aggression of the former and the latter's unmatched ability to devastate. "Lightslaying Rituals" shows that you don't need psychedelia, saxophones, or experimental tendencies to make progressive (at least a little bit, anyway) black metal.

A-

buy it!