Temple Koludra may be a new name to most, but it’s clear that the German act has spent a considerable amount of time honing their craft since the release of the self-titled EP in 2013. With not much info available about the members of the band aside from some mentions of their interest in Indian spiritualty, it appears that they’d rather let the music throughout this year’s Seven! Sirens! To a Lost Archetype speak for itself and that’s certainly a good decision. Spread across an hour, this is the type of expansive black metal that draws listeners in with sweeping, otherworldly atmosphere and shifting instrumentation. While there have been plenty of other bands in the genre in recent memory to attempt this type of sprawling, dense approach to writing, Temple Koludra manages it in such a polished and engaging way that it’s almost hard to believe this is only the third release of their discography.
Over the last decade there’s been a noticeable shift in black metal, with a number of long-running and new bands attempting lengthier and sprawling writing that encompass just as much murky atmosphere as the all-out violence seen in years past. Some have done it better than others, with albums often feeling overly bloated as run-times have stretched outwards. Seven! Sirens! To a Lost Archetype succeeds in this regard as even though it pushes past the hour mark there isn’t any wasted space and the writing consistently keeps you engaged even as songs push past nine minutes in length. Temple Koludra relies on methodical build-ups and sudden transitions to keep things tense even when they’re not at their peak, and at times it’s reminiscent of fellow Germans Ascension. But while some of the murkiness and haunting melodies may be familiar, there’s also a good deal of unpredictability in terms of instrumentation as a sudden interlude of Eastern sounding mysticism might help to break things up. “This Diadem Will Last” even has a sweeping melody that gives off imagery of a Spaghetti Western about halfway in, which is certainly not what one would expect from a black metal album. There’s just as much darkness and chaos as you could possibly want from the genre, but Temple Koludra seems interested in getting a little more adventurous with where they take it and these directions result in some standout moments.
The vocals aren’t quite as dynamic as the instrumentals, but they don’t stay at the exact same pitch for the entirety of the album either. At times the screaming is partially obscured by the wall of sound, coming through like another piece of the murk, while other times they’re right at the front and feel like they’re going to crush you to pieces. On tracks like “Namarupa” the vocals are so distorted that they sound inhuman and are as spine-chilling as possible, while later on in “This Diadem Will Last” they’ve dropped down to a slightly softer yet no less creepy spoken/screamed pitch. It’s not quite as out there as some of the more progressively oriented black metal bands as the performance lays rooted in the extreme end of the spectrum, but Temple Koludra varies things up often enough to perfectly match the flow of each song.
Although their initial approach may come across as familiar, as you dive into everything this album has to offer you’ll discover that Temple Koludra has what it takes to stand out from the pack. Their take on black metal comes across as more methodical and ritualistic at times, but the peaks are just as violent and forceful as one could possibly want. Hopefully the band continues to head further down the more adventurous paths displayed here, as they’ve started off at an immense level and seem capable of taking it even further. Seven! Sirens! To a Lost Archetypeis out now from Transcending Obscurity Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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