Temple of Void, Demo MMXIII: Living in the Gateway

It’s a brief but intense catalog of miseries that Detroit double-guitar five-piece Temple of Void emit on their 2013 debut release, Demo MMXIII. It is a demo, obviously, and self-released in an initial CD pressing of 200 — reportedly there’s a repress in the works — and it comprises just three tracks that total 22:15 between them, with “Beyond the Ultimate” and “Exanimate Gaze” hovering around six minutes each while closer “Bargain in Death” extends the lurch to 10:36, rounding out with cyclical riffing that more or less could go as long as the band wanted it. Aggressive, tonally weighted and dark in its atmosphere, Demo MMXIII is on the sludgier end of doom, but follows a course derived in no small part from extreme metal — death metal, particularly — and vocalist Mike Erdody, also of the live incarnation of Acid Witch and formerly of Borrowed Time, is a big part of what situates them as such. His vocals aren’t unipolar in the sense of just being low-register growls, but there’s no clean singing to be found in any of the three tracks, so Temple of Void wind up with a newer-school feeling take on death-doom. The tones of guitarists Eric Blanchard and Alex Awn are oppressively heavy, but not overly concerned with adhering to a classic approach, and though “Exanimate Gaze” speeds up some toward its end, the demo by and large makes its sonic impression with a thunderous plod thickened and pushed forward by bassist Brent Satterly and drummer Jason Pearce, and presents its extremity in a manner both professional and vicious.

Production quality comes into play quickly with Demo MMXIII in that it would be a much different release if recorded dirtier. I guess that’s universally true — if things were different, they would be different — but it comes into relief with Temple of Void in that where their moniker might lead a listener to expect cave echoes and direct-to-Maxell rehearsal-room quality in the recording, “Beyond the Ultimate” dispels that idea before even the first verse has begun. Erdody sets the tone with a welcoming growl over a nasty, hulking riff, and by the time they’re a minute deep, Demo MMXIII has established a course far from the dictates of doomly trend. That is to say, there’s nothing cultish in their temple. Sure, the lyrics of “Beyond the Ultimate,” which come included with the CD version but are also available online, talk of “Haunting, cryptic visions,” and sacrificial summonings, but the vibe is utterly terrestrial and rather than try to creep you out with its vibe, it takes the (admittedly, more efficient) route of bludgeoning you with a hammer. The actual words to the song are largely indecipherable through Erdody‘s growls — at least until you’re reading along — and the aggression in his style is the stuff more of modern deathcore than most of what one runs into even in death-doom, where playing ultra-low growls and clean vocals or spoken parts, Novembers Doom-style, is the expected norm. Both for that reason and the sheer fact that the band sound so pissed off, I’m more inclined to think of Demo MMXIII as death-sludge, but its foundations are unquestionably metal and the result is brutal and poised in like measure.

A sample of Chris Sarandon from 1977’s The Sentinel launches “Exanimate Gaze,” and as soon as the entrance to Hell is announced, Temple of Void get underway with their most metallic offering of the three on their first outing. Pearce keeps a doomly sensibility in half-timing the drums behind the opening push as the guitars and bass set a bleak, crushing bed for the coming verse. There are flourishes of melody in the breaks, but they’re just as ready with feedback, and the crunch of the verse is metallic in its seeming will to dominate, the second half of the song building in pace and thrust to a genre-transcending payoff that’s well met by Erdody‘s growling. To finish out, “Bargain in Death” isn’t necessarily more patient — Temple of Void are intense, but they don’t necessarily feel like they’re jumping the gun at any point — but at its core is a repetitive method that essentially beats its riff into you in its early verses. If it’s a surprise after “Beyond the Ultimate” and “Exanimate Gaze,” you probably haven’t been paying attention, but the slowdown as the fivesome head toward and through the middle of the track accounts for its extra mass over the two predecessors. Erdody takes his last screams — the final one is held to the point of breaking — just before the four-minute mark, and after that, Blanchard, Awn, Satterly and Pearce embark on a sort of plotted instrumental jam, running through cycles and developments of the progression that carry into the last fadeout, some six minutes later. If there’s a last turn, it comes around 5:45 with the emergence of a sample, but by then, the course of the rest of the track is telegraphed, and it’s pretty clear Temple of Void are going to just doom on it for a while. Guitar leads enter and exit, but the plod is constant, and it makes a long march out, finishing not like three-quarter-speed Cannibal Corpse, but like a band with a nascent will to defy what’s expected of them. That will has already served them well on this debut demo, and can only continue to do so as they move forward creatively and stylistically.

Temple of Void, Demo MMXIII (2013)

Temple of Void on Thee Facebooks

Temple of Void on Bandcamp

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One Response to “Temple of Void, Demo MMXIII: Living in the Gateway”

  1. Eric TOV says:

    Temple of Void’s debut full-length available now for pre-order!

    “…of Terror and the Supernatural” picks up where the demo left off and steamrollers the listener to death via a slow, high-fidelity death metal assault. 51 minutes of doom that often draws comparisons to Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Cathedral and early Opeth. Members of Acid Witch and Hellmouth. This debut album is heavier than Thor’s hammer.”


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