The first thing that struck me about this independently produced CD is the quality of product they've put together. A really slick fold out CD with slipcase media kit and truly excellent artwork marks this band as serious about what they're doing. Check out their page at myspace for a large example of the album artwork. Brilliant. Of course, the band needs to have a sound and ability to match what they're putting out there physically. Thankfully they do.
Templestowe, as well as being a suburb in Melbourne (is that where they got the name?) are a thrashy melodic death metal band. Their sound is tight, powerful and mature. The band, comprising Jon Hocking on vocals, Josh Micallef and Peter Meere on guitars, Joel
Maroney on bass and Jesse Sewell on drums, only formed in 2007 and produced an EP that got them considerable airplay and support slots. Building on that they've now released Cimmerian as their debut long player.
The media kit describes Cimmerian as a 10-track riff-laden odyssey. Not a bad description. It is fast and heavy, there are stonking good riffs and quality melodic breakdowns. There's solo work that fits well with the riffs and the melody and the vocals are strong and varied. There's great atmosphere to this album, like the first part of track five, Embers, which is light, almost classical guitar with a military drum beat behind, growing into a symphonic, soundtrack like vibe which in turn gives way to solid riffage. Then it all breaks back down again. This is where the maturity and tightness of the band show through. It's too easy to make this stuff sound like teenagers wanking their fretboards, thinking they're all cool. It's harder than it looks, but the Templestowe boys make a good job of it. Then track six, Oath Of Failure, barrels stright back into heavy, riffy driven metal again.
Track seven, the title track, takes us back to atmospheric picked guitar that builds into an almost Spanish sound before morphing into a rock ballad kind of thing. Seriously, there's some wide variety on this album. If you want your metal to be hard and fast, balls to the walls all the way, then this probably isn't the record for you. If you like a band that shows its versatility, a band that has the chops to force your neck to snap with its riffage, and the technical skill and musical ingenuity to showcase a plethora of skills and style in and around the heavy, then this is definitely for you.
And if the melody and lighter moments had you doubting the band's death metal foundation, track eight, Like Parasites, removes any doubt of that, with machine-gun drumming and one of the best riffs I've heard in ages. Coupled with the great death vocals of Hocking, this track is proof that Templestowe stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the genre.
One of my all time favourite bands for a long time has been Opeth. Templestowe are the first band I've heard in a long time that remind me of Opeth. They're not necessarily that similar in sound, but the construction of their songs, the variety they bring and the overall vibe of the album makes me like Templestowe for the same reasons I like Opeth. This is a good band and as this is their debut full length album I'm very excited to see where they go from here.
Cimmerian from Templestowe is out now.