Back with surprising alacrity, Temple of Lies, those Leicestershire doyens of doom-laden rock ‘n’ roll, have marched into view with a brand-new album tucked under their collective arm and a steely glint in their eyes. Picking up, more-or-less directly, where last year’s deeply impressive ‘from sand’ left off (and this should come as no surprise given that many of the ideas stem from the same sessions), ‘the serial killer suite’ nonetheless feels bigger and bolder than its predecessor.
Kicking off with a song entitled ‘epic doom’ is a pretty damn bold statement. You either need the chops to pull it off or cojones the size of over-grown water melons. Fortunately, in the case of Temple of Lies we can vouch for the former and, therefore, have no need to go checking for the latter. Jon Scranney riffs away like the demon he is right from the get go whilst Simon Shaw, the band’s motor-mouthed frontman, emerges from behind a demonic cackle that owes as much to the vaudeville scene as it does metal. It’s a cracking opening track and it leads neatly into the greasy riffing of ‘illusion of choice’ in which the band draw on the likes of Down for their NOLA-influenced sound; hell, the band even manage to get the band name into the lyrics in case you were in any doubt as to who it was swinging you around by the nether regions. The track ends abruptly and the band wrong foot the listener with ‘broken mind’, a track that sounds not unlike System of Down covering Sabbath. A mid-tempo beast, ‘Modus operandi’ sees Simon trying out a cleaner vocal tone than we’ve previously heard from him. It provides greater diversity to the album and it is good to hear the band experimenting effectively with form, albeit without a corresponding loss of power. An album highlight appears next in the form of ‘skin’, the album’s epic single (and if you’ve not checked out the video, make sure you so do), with its double-kick flourishes and percussive vocals. The first half concludes with the slithery might of ‘I cut you bleed’, another track with hypnotic clean vocals adding depth to the whole.
Aptly-titled, the lysergic haze of ‘Sleep’ is an ode to insomnia before the stunning ‘Dark energy’ emerges to add a touch of unease, the band clearly recognising that, by slipping into the shadows, their presence is all the more sinister. A full-bore stoner anthem, ‘teeth’ recalls the glory days of Kyuss with its heavily distorted riffing and tar-stained vocals whereas ‘face of grey’ offers up an unhinged, elastic groove that never seems to end up where you expect it to. A late highlight, ‘symbiotic parasite’ sees church bells ringing as Alex Gamble beats his drums into submission with tribal intensity as the band strive to bury the listener alive under the sheer weight of their musical outpourings. The album concludes with the intense ‘nihilist dreams’, another track that sees Jon’s guitars emerge from a heat haze, glistening in the dense atmosphere and driving up against Simon’s gruff roar with real power. The track builds to a huge finale, all pounding kick and soaring guitar and then the band are gone, a sadistic glint in their eye and a cheeky wave before they slip once more into the dark shadows from which they emerged.
Temple of Lies never disappoint, a fact that any witness of their live show can easily support. The rapid gestation period of the album which could, in a lesser band, indicate an unwelcome laissez-faire attitude, in Temple of Lies demonstrates the unholy inspiration that leis at the heart of the band working overtime and, in many ways, ‘the serial killer suite’ outclasses what has gone before. To these ears, there are possibly a couple of songs which would have benefitted from a slightly less ruthless approach to editing – the band’s riffs sometimes deserve more space in which to breathe – but that is simply a matter of taste whereas the passion, the power and the musical skill that informs the album is a matter of record. In short, Temple of Lies have unleashed another scorcher – embrace the sickness. 9