Brought to the world by I Hate Records on 18 March 2016 and stumbled upon by Jason Guest
Formed in 2005 and recording a demo a year later, “on account of local metalheads being largely ignorant and unsupportive of doom at the time” (make of that what you will), Greece’s The Temple took a lengthy hiatus. Summoned back from the dead in 2014 by bassist / vocalist / chief songwriter Father Alex, 2015 saw the release of an EP of the demo material. And now, a mere eleven years after forming, their first album, Forevermourn, has arrived.
What’s so striking about this album is how clean it is. Every melody is in tune, every harmony is spot on, every rhythm is right on time, and the production is flawless. Apparently, the music was recorded live in an abandoned music hall in one week and so, yes, the album sounds pretty big, the guitars and the drums filling the room while the vocals reverberate in the regal and melancholic air. But – and here’s the rub – it sounds so very produced. While not necessarily a flaw, the almost-perfect sound tends to diminish the impact of the emotive and melancholic ambitions of the record.
Opener ‘The Blessing’ establishes exactly what we are to hear from the 54 minutes that stand before us: long songs, heavy riffs, melancholic melodies, vocals saturated in pathos, and ostensibly complex structures. Track two, ‘Qualms In Regret’, takes that formula and does, well, nothing with it. A similar tempo, similar riffs, similar melodies, similar structure, and the same vocal delivery, it’s disturbingly similar to the first track. Okay, so track three, ‘Remnants’, has to be different, yes? Well, no, not really. The tremolo-picked riffing and double bass drum work scattered across the track and the up-tempo coda does little to lift the album out of its torpor.
Five and a half minutes in, the funereal ‘Death the Only Mourner’ has an interesting clean guitar section that develops well into a heavier version of itself. The remaining three tracks are dreary and uninspiring, the odd spark of potential disappearing as quickly as it appeared. And besides being no poet – “Her words made me shiver / As I was watching her flying away / Serenity inundated me / How peaceful I became in the end” (from ‘The Blessing’) – Father Alex’s insistence that one vocal melody is all he needs ensures that the album just plods on and on and on.
Seven tracks that sound all-too similar and increasingly dull, as complicated and intricate as the song structures and arrangements want to be, it all feels so very lifeless. Atop the endless and meandering “doom” riffs sit a bunch of guitar melodies that, in trying to be mournful, melancholic and all sad and shit, blur into one dreary, heaving mass, just like the songs. Positives? The band can write a tune with a natural flow to it, and they can play pretty well too. But otherwise, meh…
4 out of 10
- The Blessing
- Qualms In Regret
- Death The Only Mourner
- Mirror Of Souls
- Beyond The Stars
- Until Grief Reaps Us Apart