Death metal circa 2020 is mired in Manichaean conflict—the stupendous versus the awful, fighting for supremacy of one of metal’s most crowded subgenres as the old guard continues to make money touring and waits to see who wins. The stupendous are clear (Blood Incantation and Necrot come to mind) while the bad clog ad sections and promo boxes with aped lyrics, album art and riffs. Fortunately, we can count Temple of Void as part of the former—their new album is a concoction of sturdy death metal riffs, dynamics and Motor City madness that will grab you from the get-go.
What makes The World That Was special is both an inherent musicality and the courage to go in unexpected directions (“A Single Obolous” is a death metal version of “Laguna Sunrise”) while never losing an anchor in the fundamentals. While Blood Incantation stunned with intricate riffage, Temple of Void startle with a cauldron of bedrock death-doom given depth with vocal harmonies, keyboards and other sounds you don’t expect from one of the most anticipated death metal albums of the year. “Leave the Light Behind,” for example, has the emotional resonance of a minor-key pop song. At the same time, the embrace of a wider sound doesn’t dampen the power—“Casket of Shame” will flatten you.
You can decide to play orthodox death metal by the book in the second decade of the 21st century, but you need to be great to pull it off. You can also upend the formula and go in different directions—you also have to be great to pull it off. Fortunately, Temple of Void are knocking at the door of death greatness, and this album is another example of the hidden treasure a few bands still find in an over 30-year-old genre.
Review taken from the April 2020 issue of Decibel, which is available here.