Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Temple Of Blood - Overlord
   
Musical Style: Melodic Thrash/Speed Metal Produced By:
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2008 Artist Website: Temple Of Blood
Tracks: 10 Rating: 90%
Running Time: 40:10
Temple Of Blood - Overlord

The origin of Huntsville, Alabama based Temple Of Blood dates back to 2001 when it was founded by vocalist/guitarist Jim Mullis and drummer Lance Wright.  The two proceeded to recruit bassist Garth Lovvorn and a second guitarist, Matt Barnes, prior to entering the studio and recording the groups self-financed and independently released 2005 debut Prepare For The Judgement Of Mankind.  After Jim Lewis (Antithesis) later replaced Lovvorn on bass, Temple Of Blood put together the material encompassing the spring of 2008 follow up effort Overlord, its second self-financed and independently released project in a row.

What we have in Temple Of Blood is a joining of old school thrash (think Dark Angel, Testament and Forbidden) and melodic speed metal (similar to early Deliverance) backed by classic and true metal sensibilities (in the same vein as Boarders and Symphonic Extremities era Ultimatum).  While Prepare For The Judgement Of Mankind proved a capable debut, Overlord takes things to the next level.  As a matter of fact, it become obvious with repeated listen to the album that Temple Of Blood, a group with a moniker inspired by I Corinthians 6:19, literally worked itself to death the past several years to improve all areas of its performance, including songwriting, musicianship and instrumental sound, vocals, production and lyrics.

Now, all great albums are based upon a foundation of great songs; and such is what we have here in that Temple Of Blood draws upon just the right amount of bone crushing heaviness and melodic based songwriting.  Solid hooks are present throughout Overlord, best exhibited on speed metal romps “Behind The Inverted Cross”, “Fearsome Warrior” and “Pawn Of The Liar” in addition to “Illusion Of Control” and “The Return”, two tracks that walk a fine line between thrash and classic US power metal.  A more melodic direction is taken on “Harbinger” and “Summon The Accused” while the doom laden “Black Day Of Execution” and plodding mid-tempo metal of “Anthem To The Unseen” slow things to a near crawl.  Rounding out the album is the technical thrash of the Forbidden cover “Forbidden Evil”. 

The melodic vocal delivery of Jim Mullis helps give Temple Of Blood its signature sound.  Mostly staying in high end territory, Mullis demonstrates his versatility with the occasional falsetto or by reaching down low and adding some grit and gravel to his delivery.  Comparison wise, the first name that comes to mind, obviously, is Deliverance frontman Jimmy P. Brown II but Russ Anderson (Forbidden) – for his occasionally high end flavorings – also deserves mention.

Matt Barnes handles rhythm guitar duties (be sure to check out his tight as all get out riffs- some lightning fast and others driven and weighty) and joins with Mullis for the albums lead guitar work.  The two form quite the capable team, often decorating the material throughout the project with their mercurial – and at times over the top – dual lead work (such as on “Behind The Inverted Star”, “Summon The Accused” and “Forbidden Evil”).  The rhythm section of power drummer Lance Wright and Jim Lewis puts in place a solid foundation for the bands sound to rest upon.

Production values prove very laudable, exhibiting just the right amount of polish but not so much as to take away from the bands natural energy.  Rhythm guitar there is in abundance, along with cleanly mixed lead work and quite the pronounced low end.

Instrumental album opener “Descent Into Treachery” moves its brief (:42) distance with the instrumentation at a reduced place in the mix.  Hence, when “Behind The Inverted Star” abruptly kicks in it proves quite the contrast.

“Behind The Inverted Star” represents as no-nonsense of a track as you will find.  A three minute explosion of non-stop energy, the song advances its full length to a melding of chainsaw rhythm guitar and rapid fire drums- all the while give rise to quite the copious melody (this one is heavy AND catchy).  Barnes and Mullis top things off with a blistering dual lead guitar trade off.  As its title implies, “Behind The Inverted Star” focuses on the evils behind the pentagram:

Adorn your work with the unholy
So naïve of which it stands
Comfort in conformity
Tribute to the fall of man

Ancient evil this mark will tell
The five-pointed signs points to Hell

A hate that burns like fire lies behind the inverted star

“Summon The Accused” is a dramatic piece portraying the trial of Christ before Pilate (I like to think of it as a heavier version of Bloodgood’s “Crucify).  Musically, the song heads in a bit more of a melodic direction in comparison to “Behind The Inverted Star”, not quite setting the all out breakneck pace but still showcasing a hook of the abundant variety.  Barnes and Mullis provide another lead guitar trade off to a track that, again, deals with the trial of Christ:

Summon the accused, before the tribunal
The boastful one who claims He is the son
Judgement’s at hand by the laws of this land
Pharisees, priests and the mob they command

Brought to the high priest – Annas
Mocked in the courtroom of Caiphas

Take Him to the Roman magistrate
Execute, let Pilate seal His fate

Another assault of all out speed metal, the furious “Fearsome Warrior” hearkens back to prime Deliverance with its chunky rhythm guitar sound and all out hard hitting impetus.  As a matter of fact, the guitar riff at the start of the song has “Victory” – from the big D’s self titled debut – written all over it (and the guys pull it off without a hitch).  Another shorter piece at just over three minutes, “Fearsome Warrior” takes a look at the biblical figure Samson:

Fearsome warrior, strength divine
A killing machine, born to fight
Those who stand against surely die
A whole army fell by his might
Sworn foe of the Phillistines
Not like any man who’s ever been
Fought and overcame wild beasts
His strength was legendary

Lashed out, all around
Spilled their blood, struck them down
By the bone of a jaw
He attacked, made them fall

“Illusion Of Control” might back off a bit in terms of the energy level (at least when compared to “Fearsome Warrior”) but proves no less able.  Getting things underway is a lengthy instrumental introduction that takes a quietly played guitar and interweaves it with a driving rhythm guitar and touches of fluid soloing.  The laid back setting soon quickly picks up pace, harsh backing vocals sustaining the song during its terse verse portions before things taper for a chorus that starts evenly only to regain the initiative at the end.  “Illusion Of Control” centers around the issues of worry and faith (and how God ultimately has things in control and how we can ultimately trust Him):

MORTALITY – Fleeting time upon this mortal plane
FUTILITY – Busy futile lives we live in vain
Frustration and failure from our hands
Can’t succeed apart from His command

A troubled race we run but the war has already been won
Illusion of control

“Black Day Of Execution” takes the album in a doom based heading.  Upheld its extent by a plodding – almost bass heavy – riff and staunch low end, the song mixes a swarthy musical direction (kind of like Black Sabbath or Place Of Skulls) with lyrics written from the standpoint of Christ at the time of the crucifixion:

The charge has been made, I am sentenced to die
Beaten, blooded and scourged through the night

A long slow march to the skull on the hill
Don’t let me die but please do Your will

The soloing Mullis cuts loose each time “Black Day Of Execution” repeats its emotionally charged chorus almost comes across bluesy in feel.  Great song.

“Pawn Of The Liar”, with its all out speed metal and thrash mentality, stands out as one of the more aggressive pieces here (right up there with “Behind The Inverted Star” and “Fearsome Warrior”).  Showcasing a mega-crunch rhythm guitar sound and relentless sledgehammer drums, the song comes across about as subtle as left hook to the jaw.  Chorus wise, this one finds Mullis stretching and cutting loose with a Jimmy Brown-like falsetto.  “Pawn Of The Liar” warns against becoming a tool of the evil one:

Living as a prisoner of your own flesh
Enshackled by your desire
A foolish child living vain dreams
You’re just a pawn of the liar

Great suffering you must endure
How much more can you take
Before the pain makes you cry out
And you finally turn away

“Harbinger” begins to a short drum solo before charging ahead to a wrecking ball rhythm guitar.  The song sustains the tempestuous direction during its verse portions, not letting up until decelerating – almost to a crawl – for a catchy chorus focusing on the person of Christ:

Harbinger
The prophecy was true
Your profound message changed the world
All our hopes lie with You

Mullis and Barnes step forward with another complementary stretch of dual lead guitar.

The Forbidden cover, “Forbidden Evil”, is done to perfection.  The albums longest piece at 5:43, the song proves a technical slab of thrash metal with its intricate time changes and lengthy instrumental portions: well over half of “Forbidden Evil” is instrumental, including its minute long introduction and two instrumental sections- the first rhythm guitar driven and second featuring a dual lead trade off that goes Barnes, Mullis, Barnes, Mullis, Barnes and, finally, Mullis.  How is that for intense?  And intense would be the way to describe how the song amalgamates a relentless wave of rhythm guitar with a muscle laden low end.  “Forbidden Evil” hits the nail on the head lyrically (it would be interesting to find out what the guys in Forbidden were thinking when they wrote this):

Behold forbidden evil, he’s come to fight you’ll see
Beyond good God the Savior will rule eternity
Prince of Hell, he surrounds the Earth
Fulfilling what is said
The demons scream from Hell and kiss the bloody birth

“Anthem To The Unseen”, as its title implies, opens to an anthem-like guitar riff – every bit as tight as it gets – shored up by militant drums.  The song proceeds to advance through its first verse at an ominous mid-tempo pace, overwhelming its listener as it acquires a brief but infectiously driven chorus aligning itself perfectly with the mood filled environs.  “Anthem To The Unseen” is a song of faith:

Ancient One hear my cry of reverent praise
To your Anointed and all His ways

From your creation let us call the name of God
Exalted above all

Sovereign One take my life to do as You will
Cut off every branch that doesn’t yield

“The Return” commences to a thrash flavored riff and a trademark scream from Mullis.  Chopping through its verse portions in a heavy duty manner, the song culminates for a hook driven chorus in which the rhythm guitar, satisfyingly, moves to the forefront of the mix.  I like how “The Return” tapers to a near standstill at its halfway point prior to transitioning to a ripping instrumental section.  “The Return” touches upon end time themes:

He who first came to the world in peace
Will return with the sword
He will separate His chosen and
then loose the hounds of war
Men consumed in bloodlust will engage
in battle, killing scores
Incited by the crimson horseman who
rides from shore to shore

A coming time of vengeance on a massive scale
The likes of which has never been seen
We must watch for all the signs of those final days
As we wait the return of the King

Credit must be given to Temple Of Blood for the significant steps and strides it made from Prepare For The Judement Of Mankind (a very good album in its own right) to Overlord.  The band has achieved all the elements of a great album: consistent songwriting (not a bad track here), strong production values (I wish more independent releases sounded this good), adept musicianship and instrumentation and well conceived lyrics.  All in all, you do not have to be a thrash/speed metal fan to appreciate Temple Of Blood: if classic/power metal (or even doom) happens to be your cup of tea then I can see Overlord – with its emphasis on melodic based vocals and songwriting - appealing to you; I would even invite fans of melodic metal and hard rock to check this out.  Highly recommended.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Descent Into Treachery” (:42), “Behind The Inverted Star” (3:03), “Summon The Accused” (3:43), “Fearsome Warrior” (3:00), “Illusion Of Control” (4:59), “Black Day Of Execution” (4:25), “Pawn Of The Liar” (3:02), “Harbinger” (3:17), “Forbidden Evil” (5:43), “Anthem To The Unseen” (4:19), “The Return” (3:52)

Musicians
Jim Mullis – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Matt Barnes – Guitars
Jim Lewis – Bass
Lance Wright – Drums

Also Reviewed: Temple Of Blood - Prepare For The Judgement Of Mankind

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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