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Templestowe – Cimmerian

  • Review by: Krishna Ravi

I came across Templestowe on last.fm while checking out Hallows Die (reviewed on this site previously). Templestowe (possibly named after a suburb in Melbourne) are a 5-piece melodic death metal band hailing from the Oz Land.

Their first album ‘Cimmerian’ was released late last year and blew me away with the first listen. The album’s title comes from Robert E. Howard’s poem Cimmeria – the fictional country home to Conan the Barbarian, described as a “land of darkness and deep night”. The band sets out to portray this very image in their music. No album has given me this much of a rush since I heard Dark Tranquillity’s Haven for the first time five years ago. There’s nothing like the divinity of epic riffs to make me cream my pants, and Cimmerian has an abundance of that in unadulterated purity.

The album has an essence of the brutality of Bloodbath and resembles the composition of the At the Gates album Slaughter of the Soul. My first thought when I hear the opening track ‘The Pendulum’ is “Dethklok?!” That contributes to an instant liking and the album does not disappoint from there. ‘This Wrathful Abyss’ unleashes the stellar riffs and spectacular double bass drumming. ‘Entities’ and ‘Relics’, being two of the longest songs, offers the broadest showcase of the band’s musical ability, and are truly epic tracks. Not only can the band crunch the heavy chow, they can also slow it down admirably on ‘Embers’ and ‘Cimmerian’. Watch out for that delightful riff towards the end of ‘Desolate Obscurity’. One drawback I did find was in the vocal department. For my money, I’d like to have had the growls powerful enough to claw away into my ears. Jon Hocking comes off quite airy compared to the average death vocalist but does have his strong moments especially on ‘Like Parasites’.

That the album had Scott Carter (Aeon of Horus), Mark Lewis (All That Remains, Deicide) and Goran Finnberg (Opeth, In Flames, Soilwork) offering their engineering touch is a testament to the belief that Templestowe could go on to become one of the world’s top metal bands. The artwork too is catchy. To produce an album that compares to what Sweden (the home of melodic death metal, no doubt) has marked its stamp on, and possibly surpass it is a remarkable achievement, never mind that it is only a debut album. I exaggerate not, Cimmerian deserves all this and more.

What I wasn’t prepared for was that the band would call it quits soon after the release of the album, citing personal reasons. It is quite disappointing that a band with so much potential will no longer make quality music. Still, I’m positive that the album will remain on my list of favorites for some time to come.