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TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE: "Prophecies of Malevolence" - 70%

skaven, January 13th, 2013

Ambient and black metal often walk hand in hand, and how could that not be true when we consider something like Temple Nightside's debut EP Prophecies of Malovelence that is so lush in atmosphere that the actual metal instrumentation gets very blurred in the highly ambient soundscape. No, this isn't the kind of beautiful black metal ambient á la ColdWorld or Vinterriket, this is something from the depths of the underworld where all sinister resides.

Lo-fi production, richly atmospheric sound and utter evilness isn't, however, a new thing to many of these late Australian black metal groups that the country has spawned lately, such as Atra and Ill Omen – the latter project being responsible of Temple Nightside as well. The only major difference between those acts and Temple Nightside is that this is a more deathened effort: although I'd say this is still prominently black metal with all the tremolo work and discordant pluckings, the vocal pitch is way lower, resulting in some sort of whispered grunts, plus there's plenty of death metal esque, palm muted riffing within the mix.

But I do not believe that any review of Prophecies of Malevolence should focus solely on the metal because around half of the EP's length comprises the harrowing, droning ambient. It's harsh and distant as the other tracks, and very evocative and malignant. It's rare to come by this well done 'interludes' but these Australians are definitely on the right track when it comes good blackened ambient.

27 minutes pass fast, but in a way it is only good that the EP isn't prolonged. This is just about the right length for a style in which the musical style doesn't much vary and where the echoing, blurry sound might dull the listener after a half an hour. Adorned with a great looking cover art, I find Prophecies of Malevolence a worthy experience. It is not quite extraordinary, as there's not much personality in the actual riffs, but any fan of deep atmosphere in their evil black metal better check this one out.

3.5 / 5
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Whispers of woe across a haunted horizon - 73%

autothrall, June 15th, 2011

The snag in defining an effort like Prophecies of Malevolence is that it's so successful at its dark ambient elements that I'd almost rather place it in that category than the black metal itself, which often feels as if its riding in the passenger seat. But in general, these Australians have found themselves an engrossing balance of swelling oblivion and writhing, snarling madness that is guaranteed to haunt anyone who falls prey to its shadowed, vaporous clutches. In listening through this EP, I felt as if I were directly upon the precipice of falling night, as if my very footsteps were skirting its border, my eyes and ears a mute witness to the horrors of its life-leeching, opaque embrace. I'll say it here: Temple Nightside might have some issues, but beyond any doubt, they live up to their fucking name.

Prophecies of Malevolence is essentially one, grief-strewn saga woven into nine fluid tracks, five of which are ominous, ambient pieces which swelter and drone as if they were born of a vast, vacuum void-maw upon the threshold of madness, sucking souls into the nothing of its being. These tracks are titled "Commune 1.1-1.5", though they're each given titles, like "Eclipsed Salvation" or "Malediction Evangelist". The remainder of the release is comprised of solitary, distant black metal overtures. The percussion is quite low in the mix, tinny and hammering against the more resonant guitar tones, while the rasps breathe out like dense specters lost in a frozen mist. This is not necessarily a riff-oriented band. Think of some minimalist parallel to old Emperor, at least in the guitar department, which in itself transcends into some ambient force of chaos right at the edge of perception.

That's not to say there is no structure present. For example, the slower paced track "Acolyte Abomination" in particular evokes some ghastly dissonance through its shimmering rhythms. But the majority of these metal tracks, like "Incipit - Relinquished" and "Twelve Divinations of Spheres Beyond", thunder along with abandon, and the listener always feels so far away and helpless, as if there were no way to stop whatever nihilistic vortex the band were summoning. To their credit, the atmosphere alone is kind of cool, but it definitely would not harm them to pen some more jarring or memorable guitars, even if they keep such a far off tone in the mix. The sheer ambient tracks, on the other hand, are quite amazing, and despite the minor nitpicks, a sit through of the entire 27 minute EP yields an eminent fear and harrowing.