England has a proud heritage when it comes to doom metal, with bands such as My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema blazing a trail previously set out by metal pioneers Black Sabbath, but the path less trod is the stoner-influenced doom of mighty US acts such as Monster Magnet with the emphasis on groove and power rather than Dickensian atmosphere and so it is refreshing to hear Midlands based outfit Temple Of Lies carving out their own place on the latter scene. Ostensibly mixing up the afore mentioned Monster Magnet with elements of long-lost grunge band Tad, Metallica and Mastadon, Temple Of Lies provide a neat object lesson in what can be done even without the support of a label on their aptly titled debut ‘monumental’ – a ten song slab of memorable hooks, huge (erm – monumental) guitar riffs and face melting percussion all handsomely packaged in a digi-pack for your aesthetic, as well as sonic, pleasure.
ToL hit the ground running with the frantic surge of ‘Mom’, Simon Shaw’s fearsome bark one part Hetfield, one part Kilmister and two parts Wyndorf – a potent combination by anyone’s standards. Meanwhile the guitars of Jon Scranney chug and surge with real power, the herbally-enhanced riffs possessed of a head-swinging groove that demands audience response in the form of slow-motion head banging and a desire to neck whole bottles of Jack Daniels. ‘Through the eyes of a dog’ takes a Spartan arrangement and heavily distorted vocals exhorting you to “break free, mother***er break free” in the time honoured tradition of bands such as QOTSA and Monster Magnet in a manner that suggests it would make an excellent single. ‘Rope’ is a faster moving beast with driving bass courtesy of Simon Mitchell who sounds as if he is trying to summon the forces of darkness through the power of his four-stringed instrument alone. ‘888’ (proving that for some bands 666 is just not evil enough) has a neat stop/start riff that satisfyingly introduces a different dynamic into the band’s sound whilst the chorus is more punk than metal, delivered with a meaty gang-style vocal that sticks in the mind with unnerving tenacity.
Having firmly impressed with the opening salvo, it is now the point where ToL need to consolidate their successes, something they do most firmly with ‘pigbitch’, a brutal slab of mid-tempo doom recalling Black label Society at their grittiest. The brilliantly titled ‘if God made sandwiches’ (no really) is delivered with tongue firmly in cheek (although it also made me want to eat, dammit!) and is then offset by the brutal ‘feed the greed’, a track every bit as ominous as its title would suggest. ‘Ethereal sea’ defies expectations for a softer direction raised by the title, and proves to be a suitably monolithic slab of stoner rock, once again utilising the bands knack for melodic, memorable choruses just begging to be sung along to, and the only real question is how on earth ToL have managed not to be signed with songs of this quality. The final two tracks of the album round things out in fine style – ‘scumdog’ being a QOTSA style work-out with a twisted riff and ‘King in my car’ being a super-charged slab of stoner rock worth the price of the record alone.
Temple of Lies are proof that to make a good record you don’t necessarily need a lot of money. What you do need are talent and determination, both of which ToL have in spades. Not only do they write memorable, powerful songs, but each musician has a distinctive style, bringing their own qualities to the mix, although Simon’s vocals do deserve special mention because his snarling, gritty, whiskey-soaked voice really makes this record. There are niggles – the mix occasionally favours the drums to the detriment of the otherwise powerful guitar sound – but nothing that can interfere with the notion that Temple of Lies are a rather special band and serving of far more attention in the years to come. If you want to hear a powerful, stoner/doom album with attitude and melody then ‘Monumental is for you’.
Find out more (and buy the album) at Temple Of Lies’ official site here.