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I’ve heard some unique label names before but Cruz Del Sur is probably the most uniqe I’ve heard yet. They also release some pretty unique bands and Magister Templi is no different. Extremely unique to say the least. An odd mixture of classic metal elements combined with those of a bit of progressing and intense doom, put this cd at the forefront of this genre. I like bands like this as they tend to be a bit more abstract than your conventional doom metal bands. Whether it be the lyrical content or even the writing of the music and even the overall ambience of these tunes, Magister Templi has all bases covered on this effort.
All elements are covered 10 fold here. The guitars have a nice classical, hard rock edge to them in some parts and the band incorporates them with the traditional doom parts for a nice little twist to this approach. On the solos, however, what I find odd is that there is a slight “bluesy” type feel to them. This really adds to the doom side of things. I had never thought that the 2 genres could fit together but the band does it rather nicely. On other songs the solos are more traditional and stay to the strict specifications laid down by forefathers of this genre. Along with the blues element, you can almost hear an Iron Maiden type vibe in some areas. On other songs, you will notice that the bottom heavy bass is showcased rather nicely to give these tunes a little added volume or depth.
One of the main influences here is most definitely Candlemass, but you can also hear slight elements of bands like: Count Raven, Cathedral, and an ever so slight influence from the band Confessor. I would say the Candlemass influence would be centered around the vocals and the awesomely bombastic drum work. The Cathedral influence would be from such albums as “Forest of Equilibrium” and “Endtyme”. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard Count Raven, but what I do remember from them is a horrific Sense of Desolation and Isolation, and that is the feel I get when I listen to Magister Templi. The production of this album is fairly decent but perhaps a little “foggy”. Again, this is one of those cds where the little quirks in the production and mixing work to the advantage of the band and the ultimate feel of the album as a whole. It’s as if the album has a “dated” feel to it, but I just chalk it up to the possibility that this is what the band was going for. Thus giving us their nod to the old school of their particular genre Just as many other bands nowdays are doing. You can definitely feel the respect these guys have for their art and staying true to form.
This band really rocked my brain with this album. I had high hopes for it from the get go and was not disappointed in the slightest. It has sparked an even deeper interest in this particular genre and even though this album was just released. I am already anticipating their next metal opus just as I am with a few other bands. This cd is going to have a lot of time in my stereo so until the band decides to start working on another release I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with this album. That’s the thing with this band. By the time the album is over, you are left wanting more. That is one of the main keys of being a successful band. And there is no doubt in my mind that these guys will be around for a long time and be successful for however long they are around.
Magister Templi managed to sneak up on my aging ass from half a planet away (the metal hub also known as Oslo, Norway) and ran me through with their debut full-length album, Lucifer Leviathan Logos…that makes them sound more like ninjas rather than the masterful metal maestros that they are.
At any rate, Lucifer Leviathan Logos is an album that blindsided me with its modesty, purity, and, well, for lack of a better word, Mercyful Fate-iness. I was expecting more of a Moss-ish sound from these guys (which would have been awesome, too), but as soon as Master Of The Temple started up, I knew I was in for something special.
In case I haven’t made it clear over the course of the last seven years of reviewing metal, I’m an H.P. Lovecraft NUT! And any song that pays homage to The Old Ones is golden gravy in my book. And The Innsmouth Look is, not only a great musical representation of Lovecraft’s work, but it’s also the best I’ve ever heard to date (a title once held by Metallica for The Thing That Should Not Be and just about every Morbid Angel song).
The opening to Lucifer had me scratching my head for a few moments as I tried to figure out how Pantera’s Rock The World and Van Halen’s Running With The Devil somehow collided on my iPod, and after the trans-rock mindfuck subsided, I was treated to yet another instant “Mercyful Fate-y” classic (Jesus! I’m namedropping like crazy in this one, ain't I?).
Here is where I would normally start pointing out the stuff in the album that bores/bugs me. Move along, folks. There’s nothing to see here.
It’s not really easy for me to say this since there have been a ton of excellent albums so far this year, but Lucifer Leviathan Logos is at the top of my list for best album of 2013!
Scandinavia is certainly leading the charge in this new wave of occult themed heavy/doom metal bands, with names like Portrait, In Solitude and Ghost generating a great deal of buzz. No doubt Magister Templi will also be written into this category, due to the lyrical themes and the overt influence of Mercyful Fate, but I can't say that these Norwegians feel like a disposable rehash of any of the aforementioned; and with a bit of refinement and sharpening, they could very well become one of the greatest riff monsters in that particular scene. Alas, I'm not sure Lucifer Leviathan Logos will prove the group's ticket to the big time, because it seems marred by one of its most prevalent components to the point that I found myself distracted away from the excellent guitar progressions, dwelling a bit too much on the vocals of the Abraxas d' Ruckus.
This is a case where both their production and inflection really threw me off from the supporting instruments. It's not that Ruckus is incapable of holding a notes or shifting pitches, but there's just something really strange about his intonation and enunciation of particular English words that seemed alien to me. Now, granted, it's quite likely that this is a secondary language for the guy, and normally I enjoy such little quirks, but paired up with the placement of certain lyrical lines, and the lyrics themselves, the experience became disjointed. For one, he seems erratically loud and separate in the mix of the recording (especially in the 'narrative' part in "Master of the Temple"). The guitars and drums are clearly audible, and strong enough that it's not a deal breaker, but he just seems like he's singing in a different space. His tone falls somewhere between Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeternus, Mark Shelton of Manilla Road, and the more operatic doom stylings of the earlier Candlemass records. With a little bit of an Ozzy lean in the actual structure of delivery. Loud and clean overall, but aside from the earlier issues, he also sounds too forced when he's shitting into his upper key, and while 'charismatic' I just felt like there wasn't enough inherent anger and potency in his voice to convince me. Perhaps not awful...
However, the riffs are so great through this album that I felt like they deserved something more. Largely rooted in traditional 80s heavy metal, I definitely picked up a Danish or old Swedish vibe redolent of Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Mercy, and other bands of that nature. Riff progression choices might not always be original, but they're rather refreshing just the same. The 80s are being used as inspiration, not just a source for ripping off aesthetics, but I enjoy the dirty grooves and rhythmic punctuation that often recalled Michael Denner and Hank Shermann in their prime. Not to mention the authentic, down to earth production of the guitars; not too polished, not too grimy, just right. Bass and drums are groovy if not necessarily as standout as the rhythm guitar, and the whole thing feels like this burly time machine tweaked on the occult nostalgia of simpler years. The music could definitely use some better leads as dressing for the superb rhythm tracks, but there's enough melody running through the riffs to somewhat compensate. The samples and atmospheres are a bit strange (like the intro to "The Innsmouth Look"), but functional, and the evil acoustic guitar that inaugurate the closer "VITRIOL" are proof positive of what potential these guys have as raw composers.
If I was to judge Lucifer Leviathan Logos simply on the rhythm guitars, I might award it flying colors, but as a whole package, there was just something still nagging me about the vocals the entire time. Not that they're necessarily annoying, mind you, and one does get accustomed to them after a few spins of the album, but still I just don't think they're the greatest match for the music. The high end transitions, enunciation and lyrical arrangements need some work. Otherwise, Magister Templi has the chops to prove itself in this rapidly expanding niche. The Lovecraft, Crowley, and horror lyrical themes are par for the course, but on the other hand...they're par for the course.