Tuesday, March 19, 2019


 Darchon - The Stygian Black Beyond
Kunsthauch, 2015
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Apeiron
2. Outer Darkness
3. Caldwell (NGC 5128) Centaurus A
4. Selene
5. Crossing the Celestial Path to Infinities and Beyond
6. Auslander Hostility
7. Into a Cosmic Solitude
8. Unseen Kingdom

Bonus: Cosmicism:
1. Cosmicism Pt. 1
2. Cosmicism Pt. 2

It has finally arrived, the debut full-length from Darchon! This release contains over an hour of music, so make sure you set aside some time to experience this journey. I was lucky enough to get the limited edition version of this which comes with a poster and bonus CD. This edition is limited to 100 hand-numbered copies and I have #2.  The regular edition is limited to 200 copies.  As with the split, this comes with an envelop with a different cover (above) than the CD itself. The regular CD is inside the envelop and comes in a beautiful multi-panel digipak. The bonus CD is just a CDr in a small plastic envelope, probably so they could fit everything in the main envelope.

Despite the fact that his is Darchon's debut album, some of the music is actually quite old. Much of it was actually written and recorded before the EP even came out. So, in terms of writing, the EP is the
most recently written material. Some of this material dates back to 2009/2010, which is around when the Split material was recorded as well. Given the stark influence by projects like Darkspace, Darchon has a bit of a different format to their album. They arrange the material in such away that it mostly alternates between Black Metal and Ambient tracks. Darchon's Ambient prowess is a step above some the main projects that follow in this regard. The integration of synth work at this level manages to elevate the overall compositions and add a layer of complexity into the mix that can feel a bit different. Unfortunately, and probably by design, the riffing is rather overly droning. In this area Darkspace and Paysage d'Hiver cannot be beaten, they bring such solid riffing to the table that it is tough to compete. Which is why I think Darchon is really trying to do something a little bit different in the grand scheme of things. This droning approach that is more in line with Ambient really works in Darchon's favor making a release that is more mesmerizing in some regards. It's great music to just zone out, because it doesn't overly grab your attention, so it has a more meditative quality. The closing track "Unseen Kingdom" is one of the most unique tracks from this brand of Black Metal. It crosses paths with Industrial quite a bit and reminds me a lot of the Mexican project Hocico. If Hocico played Black Metal, this is, probably, what it would sound like.

The bonus EP comes with two extra tracks on of which is another Black Metal song. There isn't much info about this in any of the packaging, so I'm not sure how old the tracks are. "Cosmicism Pt 1" fits very well into the overall aesthetic of the album and really just continues the themes we've heard before. "Pt. 2" though, is a very different ambient track. This is extremely in line with the Ambient sections Darkspace uses and it just feels way more threatening. Layered into the background is a lecture about Black Holes and with the static ambience makes it a really interesting piece. I almost wish these two tracks weren't only on here and instead made their way onto an album. The Ambient piece would be a great setup for an intro or an outro of an album.

In the end Darchon created quite an awesome debut as far as I'm concerned. I can see why people might not like it as much, despite the heavy Darkspace influence, I'm not sure a lot of people are interested in listening to this much Ambient in between each Black Metal track. I think it makes for an interesting experience and presentation, but I'm rarely in the mood to listen to both, so I find myself skipping the Ambient tracks and just delving into the Black Metal sections more often. I think that's the only major thing people would really have a problem with, or thinking this is very derivative of Darkspace, but it's really not. Darchon's journey and feel, while inspired by the likes of Paysage d'Hiver and Darkspace, do have a fairly different feel overall. So, I think Darchon is some relatively brilliant stuff and I'm interested to hear new music from this project for sure. Hopefully all the material he was sitting on is out now and he can march forward with writing new material.

Darchon - From Unknown Vastlands of Isolation and Death
Self Mutilation Services, 2014
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. From Unknown Vastlands of Isolation and Death
2. The Pleiadas

After a couple years Darchon return with two more tracks, only one of which is a Black Metal song. It's impressive how slow some people can work on material, but I guess he just wanted to throw something out into the world to show the project wasn't dead. "From Unknown Vastlands of Isolation and Death" reminds me a lot of what Darkspace does, but this feels like a lesser or a lighter version of that power house of a project. Darchon is clearly influenced by this kind of material, but Darchon also touches on a lot more various Black Metal inspiration throughout a lot of his writing. The vocals are a barely existent and very buried in the overall mix of the music. Vocally it's not that spectacular, so I can see why they would bury the vocals in the overall mix. "The Pleiadas" is an Ambient, mainly piano driven track and it's actually quite enjoyable. It has some extremely spacey qualities to it and really compliments the track name. When it comes to performances of this nature I would say Darchon is actually a far more talented composer than the likes of Darkspace, but Darchon does need a bit more work in the Black Metal department if they ever hope to truly compete with stronger projects of this nature. While the material on this EP may not stand out in the grand scheme of things, it's good to know Darchon is still around and I'm still looking forward to any music released in the future.

Battle Dagorath & Darchon & Lorn - Enshroudment of Astral Destiny
Kunsthauch, 2012
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Battle Dagorath:
1. Echoes from the Ancient Skies
2. Warspirits of Annihilation
3. Nocturnal Elegy
4. Oceanus
5. Shadows from the Elder Chasm
6. Breath of Typhoeus
7. Vain Foreseen

Side Battle Dagorath: ...coming eventually...
Side Lorn: ...coming eventually...
Side Darchon:

The first stirrings of Darchon were found originally on myspace, but it doesn't seem like it was too long before they were able to produce a split with the likes of Battle Dagorath and Lorn. Darchon is a one man project from Greece and composes some extremely well made material. It seems Kunsthauch snapped him up real fast and has been producing some high quality physical releases ever since. This first release comes in an envelope with a beautifully designed digipak.

If you delve into Darchon and find yourself reminiscing about things like Darkspace you probably aren't too far off. Darchon is fairly similar in design and aesthetic to Darkspace. They even put to use some excellent synthesizer sections amidst their raging Black Metal. While Darchon's material is fairly long, it's nowhere near the level of song length that Darkspace reaches for. Despite the cosmic themes and synthesizers I think Darchon is more similar to Paysage d'Hiver in their overall sound. Like these projects Darchon sadly uses programmed drums. While they don't add much beyond a monotonous beat to the project, we're really hear for the overall atmosphere being generated. "Shadows from the Elder Chasm" actually has moments that remind me over early Emperor quite a bit, so hearing that blended in with the more modern take on Atmospheric Black Metal made for an interesting aspect that worked very well. "Breath of Typhoeus" is the shortest track and not a Black Metal song at all. Instead it's more of an Ambient type of track, but I actually which is was quite a bit longer like the actual Black Metal songs, because it really puts you in an impressive atmospheric space after listening to the other two songs.

Darchon have an impressive introduction to the world and this is absolutely a project I'll be following in the future. I really hope a full-length is forth coming, because a three way split isn't going to be enough for this project.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Temple of Baal

Temple of Baal - Mysterium
Agonia Records, 2015
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. Lord of Knowledge and Death
2. Magna Gloria Tua
3. Divine Scythe
4. Hosanna
5. Dictum Ignis
6. Black Redeeming Flame
7. Holy Art Thou
8. All in Your Name

For some reason I entirely missed out on this release when it first hit. It wasn't until a couple years later that I was looking through a distro and realized I didn't have this album. So, I ordered it immediately since I've been following Temple of Baal for quite a long time now. After "Verses of Fire" I was expecting more of the same, but "Mysterium" delivers a rather different experience overall.

The major difference with this release is the fact that long time guitarist Alastor has left the band. It seems this happened while they made "Verses of Fire", because if you read the liner notes it says "Extended thanks to Alastor. Best of luck in the new life you've chosen." For "Mysterium" they've recruited Sathor from The Order of Apollyon and he also is a live guitarist for some other very notable French projects. Some of the issues I had with "Verses of Fire" where they tried to infuse aspects of their earlier sound into the material are, essentially, gone at this point. "Mysterium" is a far more focused album, but there feels like a bit of a drop in the crushing intensity and instead they build more of an atmosphere into their overall sound. Some riffing reminds me quite a bit of Hell Militia and Aosoth being blended together. They still cast these elements in a far more Death Metal light, but this is one of the more cohesive albums Temple of Baal have put out in quite a while. I would like to hear some more of that intensity put back into the mix, because I always thought that made their songs sound a lot more vicious compared to other projects. If they can blend the two together more seamlessly they would have quite an incredible album on their hands.

If you've been a long time Temple of Baal fan then "Mysterium" will not disappoint. Some people may miss the infusion of the catchier rhythms thrown in, but I like how the album feels like an entire work, rather than a collection of songs that sounded good. I'll definitely be interested in hearing what they have in store for us next.

Temple of Baal - Verses of Fire
Agonia Records, 2013
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. το αστέρι 418
2. Bloodangel
3. Arcana Silentium
4. The 10th Aethyr
5. Gates of Death
6. Gnosis of Fire
7. Golden Wings of Azazel
8. Lord of the Raging Seas
9. Serpens Luminis
10. Walls of Fire

After the material Tample of Baal brought to the split with Ritualization I was looking forward to their next full-length quite a bit. "Verses of Fire" does kind of continue in that theme, but the bring back some of their older styles into the fold. I have the digpak CD version of this and it comes with a very well done layout and full booklet. This album is also quite long with it clocking in at over an hour in length, which kind of surprised me.

Musically Temple of Baal continue to push forward with that ultra modern Black/Death style they've been developing over the past few years. I actually like the collection of songs on the prior split a little more than what's on this album. The album isn't bad, but it doesn't feel as cohesive or outright dark and threatening. There are too man moments where they hearken back to bringing in some of the Thrash riffing or a catchy phrase here and there from their earlier days. It's not that they're bad at writing these riffs, but they break up the atmosphere of the album quite a lot. I think Temple of Baal is just better at writing those dark and vicious or uncomfortable riffs and when they insert an outright Thrash riff into that type of song it really breaks the atmosphere they build. Some songs are outright similar to American Death Metal like "Golden Wings of Azazel". They do a great job of playing this style, of course, but it just makes for a strange blend into the overall mix of songs on the album. Though, they fit this song in a lot better than some of the random catchy riffs. Vocally Amduscias is adding a lot more into his range. Here you'll hear some outright yelling styled vocals that add an extra kick to some of their more atmospheric sections. It really works well within the framework they're using it and I hope he continues to add more of this variation into the music.

In the end, I do like "Verses of Fire" despite it being somewhat all over the place from time to time. They manage to keep it focused enough to make it quite enjoyable, but the razor sharp focus of the split made it apparent what kind of power Temple of Baal can wield if they stick with one framework. If you're a Black/Death Metal fan, Temple of Baal is producing some pretty intense and well written music.

Temple of Baal & Ritualization - The Vision of Fading Mankind
Agonia Records, 2011
Genre: Black/Death Metal

Temple of Baal:
1. Ordeals of the Void
2. When Mankind Falls
3. Slaves to the Beast
4. Heresy Forever Enthroned
5. Ave Dominus
6. The Second Crowning
7. Devil Speaks in Tongues (Mortem cover)

Side Ritualization: ...coming eventually...
Side Temple of Baal:

It's been a little while since we've heard from Temple of Baal, which is a good sign they're taking their time with material rather than just cranking it out. So, it's interesting to see them return with only four new songs with this split. However, when you delve into it you'll see they've picked up a new drummer. Antares was a good drummer for the project, but after hearing this I feel like Skvm is a better fit. The drums feel so much more powerful and extremely tight with the project. So, however he's approaching the kit is instantly fitting with the sound of Temple of Baal.

The opening track "Ordeals of the Void" is a massive powerhouse that feels a lot more intense than anything they've really done before. They've lost a lot of that catchier riffing you'd see show up from time to time and instead focus on a much darker and intense atmosphere. I think production wise they finally found a decent balance for how much they want their music to sit in the low frequencies. They use a lot of Black Metal riffing in the French tradition, but have it recast in this far more intense fashion which works really well on the songs. As far as the Temple of Baal side of things go, I think this material sounds spectacular and I can't wait to hear what's in store for them next. I really hope this drummer sticks around too, because he's an extremely good fit for the project.

Temple of Baal - Lightslaying Rituals
Agonia Records, 2009
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. Piercing the Veils of Slumber
2. Triumph of Heretic Fire
3. Black Sun of the Damned
4. Angstgeist
5. Dead Cult
6. Hate is My Name
7. Poisoned Words
8. Vectors to the Void
9. Blessings of Blackfire

It's actually been quite a few years since we've gotten a full length from Temple of Baal. The two prior splits were probably just to show that the project wasn't entirely dead. I remember being pretty excited when I saw this album come out, part of it had to do with the eye catching cover design and really excellent album title. Strangely, I remember my first listen wasn't all that favorable.

However, now that I return to this album years later, I think this is some really solid Black/Death Metal. Temple of Baal have always sort of been on that edge where there was still too much Black Metal in their sound to call them a truly hybrid. However, with their split with Aosoth it started to become apparent that some aspects of their sound might be evolving. With "Lightslaying Rituals" they truly overhauled their sound enough to be a full on Black/Death Metal band. I know some people might see that and think "oh, Behemoth", but that is definitely not the case. Temple of Baal sounds nothing like that. "Lightslaying Rituals" sounds way grittier and dirtier, almost like if you took the old Swedish Death Metal guitar tone and recast it into a Black Metal framework. their guitar lines have also gotten more elaborate and I hear a lot more layering than in prior albums. Production wise this album feels so much thicker than the prior albums. However, the low end might be a little too low and it winds up dominating the overall feel of the album. Other than that, this is the best production value Temple of Baal have ever released. It's kind of amusing to listen to this after all the posturing of their demo days where they seemed to revel in the trashy production quality.

In the end if you were expecting another old school Black Metal effort from Temple of Baal, you might find yourself sorely disappointed. Instead we have the brutal punishing sounds of Death Metal heavily infused into their sound. They still maintain some of those catchy riffs that show up on prior albums, but even if not all the riffs have that catchy quality they are pretty well written. Some of their outright Death Metal riffs could stand some improvement, but I think they are a bit out of their element in composing this way, so I look forward to see what they bring in the future. I can't remember why I initially didn't like this release, but on re-listening to this, I think it came out pretty good. It's a lot better than a lot of the Black/Death Metal bands out there.

Temple of Baal & Aosoth Split
Debemur-Morti Productions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

Temple of Baal:
1. Dead Cult
2. ... of Fire

Side Aosoth: ...coming eventually...
Side Temple of Baal:

Temple of Baal return with a new track and a split with a fairly unknown project called Aosoth. Aosoth is very interesting and plays a brooding style of Black Metal against Temple of Baal's hard hitting "Dead Cult". Temple of Baal pushes their sound even heavier and thicker for this song compared to the last album, I think. The writing feels a little more mature and cohesive as well. It still maintains that dark and vicious feel to their music so it really complements the Aosoth side as well. This is definitely a split worth checking out and it's beautifully pressed, as I've come to expect from Debemur-Morti products.

Ancestral Fog & Temple of Baal Split
Battlesk'rs, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

Ancestral Fog:
1. Fundaments of Life Denied
2. Von (Von cover)
Temple of Baal:
3. Living Fleshthrone
4. Satan's Legions

Side Ancestral Fog: ...coming eventually...
Side Temple of Baal:

This next split with Temple of Baal comes with a real treat in the form of Ancestral Fog. Ancestral Fog really stole the show for me on this split, but the Temple of Baal songs are pretty good too. As with all 7" releases I'm sure this is limited to some amount, but there is nothing listed on my copy.

Even though this eventually came out after "Traitors to Mankind" on the vinyl itself it has a date of 2005 and makes me think this was delayed in pressing. It would be weird for Temple of Baal to release "Living Fleshthrone" again right after their album hit, so that's why I think this wound up getting delayed horribly. "Satan's Legions" appears to be an entirely new track though. Maybe a track they didn't really feel fit on the album, but still good nonetheless. It actually reminds me of that disgusting feeling Black Metal we hear in projects like Hell Militia, only Temple of Baal is a bit heavier by comparison. Either way, regardless of the delay I'm glad this had something new to share instead of just the one track from the album.

Temple of Baal - Traitors to Mankind
Oaken Shield, 2005
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. Living Fleshthrone
2. Traitors to Mankind
3. Graveyard of Disgust
4. Bleeding Thoughts
5. Under the Spell
6. Visions of Carnage
7. Crawling in Blood and Puke
8. Bitter Days
9. Death Inquisition
10. Flames of Baal

As a follow-up to their debut, this is not at all what I was expecting from this project. "Traitors to Mankind" really changes up their entire sound. Where we once had 90's Black Metal worship they've injected quite a dose of Death Metal into their overall sound. This time around a little more care was put into the booklet and design, so it's a bit more interesting to look at from a physical stand point. They also backed off from the posturing in the liner notes, which I'm thankful for.

"Traitors to Mankind" sounds and feels quite different from their earlier releases. The first two songs are solidly in the Black/Death Metal camp, but when we get to "Graveyard of Disgust" we hit more in their usual Black Metal territory. It's almost as if the band was transitioning to more Death Metal over the past couple years. One of the other reasons things sound quite different is they enlisted Glorior Belli and Black God drummer Antares to fill the drum throne left by Herr Rikk. I'll be honest, Herr Rikk did a good job on the early releases, but Antares is the better drummer. This album is also engineered in such a way that I can actually hear the kick drums, on all the prior albums they were mostly an incoherent rumble. So, it's a nice treat to be able to hear them this time around. They clearly weren't afraid to experiment more with this release, just listen to "Bleeding Thoughts". They wound up re-recording "Bitter Days" from the Sargeist split and it sounds so much darker and heavier on this recording. They've also started included guitar solos into their music. They're not over the top well done, so I don't really care about this addition to their music.

"Traitors to Mankind" maybe feel all over the place in terms of a general composition theme, but for some reason it really works to their advantage on this album. It winds up creating a really excellent blend of Black and Death Metal, with the occasional Thrash riff thrown in for good measure. It maintains that Black Metal atmosphere throughout which is really well done this time around. It feels somewhat new, but simultaneously old. All in all "Traitors to Mankind" is well done album that I still enjoy to this very day.

Temple of Baal & Sargeist Split
Grievantee Productions, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

Temple of Baal:
1. Bitter Days
2. Wraith Messiah

Side Sargeist: here
Side Temple of Baal:

After a successful debut Temple of Baal return with another split. I missed out on their first one with Eternal Majesty, but maybe I'll track that down someday. This time they team up with the mighty Sargeist. I like Sargeist a great deal, so it was a real treat to see two bands I like show up on a split like this. This is pressed on 7" vinyl limited to 500 copies.

If you enjoyed "Servants of the Beast" the song "Bitter Days" really does pick up where the full-length left off. It's interesting to note how much thicker the guitar tone Temple of Baal uses compared to bands like Sargeist, who are far more thinned out. Temple of Baal feels a little heavier than others for this reason. "Bitter Days" is a pretty good song overall and captures the atmosphere Temple of Baal seems to be striving for at this point, which is much improved from their demo efforts. Definitely a split worth having in any collection.

Temple of Baal - Rituals of Black Plague
Paleur Mortelle, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Backstab
2. Tempting the Bastard
3. Deathblessed (At the Hornlike Spears)
4. Faces of the Void
5. Slaves to the Beast
6. Black War
7. Ruins
8. Woman of Dark Desires (Bathory cover)

Shortly after "Servants of the Beast" hit a live album was "recorded", which I assume took place on their tour supporting their debut full-length. This is released on cassette and limited to 300 hand-numbered copies and I own #112.

This is the Temple of Baal recording no one wanted. In fact, recordings like this are basically what no one wants around at any rate. They're just a waste of space in anyone's collection. Everything is massively blown out and has this layer of annoying distortion going on. You can hear the guitar riffs from time to time and they are the quality we expect from Temple of Baal, but everything else is such a jumbled mess that it's a real waste of time to listen to this material. The vocals are wildly blown out, but there is actually less distortion on the vocals than the on the "Black Unholy Presence" demo.

They try to cover up all this atrocious crap with having a super "true" attitude on the liner notes saying "Rituals of Black Plague has been released only for true underground maniacs. Direct raw live sounding roughly recorded." In other words, this sounds like absolute trash and if you don't like it then you're not a "true" fan. I need to stop reading the liner notes from this band... basically, unless you really must have a complete Temple of Baal discography, you can seriously skip out on this one. It's a giant waste of time and I probably will never listen to the whole thing.

Temple of Baal - Servants of the Beast
Oaken Shield, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Backstab
2. Triumphing Blasphemy
3. Towards Eternal Death
4. Years of Hatred
5. Deathblessed (At the Hornlike Spears)
6. Slaves to the Beast
7. Ruins

Temple of Baal have teamed up with Oaken Shield, a subsidiary of the legendary Adipocere Records to release their debut full-length. After two demos that were good, but weren't incredible "Servants of the Beast" really show the band has something to show us. It seems the band has dispensed with some of the overly raw recording concepts and is also writing more interesting songs overall.

On their debut we don't see any of the material from their demos given the studio treatment. While some elements of their demo's style shows through, a lot has changed rather dramatically. They still stay pretty heavily rooted in the more early 90's Black Metal style, as we'd expect, but musically it reminds me a bit of early Deathspell Omega, Merrimack and Watain. The Watain reference is no real surprise seeing as how Danielsson did the cover. There's a great deal of early Thrash styled guitar lines thrown in as well. "Triumphing Blasphemy" has some seriously catchy guitar work, giving that reminiscent old Bathory feel. However, the blend is different enough to have the band stand out enough in the sea of similarly styled projects. The vocals are completely overhauled as well and it doesn't sound like Amduscias is screaming into a distortion pedal. Instead the vocals sound natural and gives a much better authentic presence. Instead he opts to create more intense moments through layering, not distortion.

We also have a full booklet with lyrics. Lyrics are the usual Satanic variety, so nothing vastly different there. There's even a thank you section! I always find it amusing when I read liner notes and this comes up "Deathwishes to nowadays 'BM' audience: You are nothing but slaves!" Okay, calm down cool guy... you're debut album is good, but not that good. "Servants of the Beast" isn't going to go down in history as one of the finest or most revolutionary Black Metal albums out there. Spare me the "tough guy" attitude in your thank you list. Plus, I think this particular viewpoint shows up on more Black Metal albums than I care to mention. If every band hates their audience then no one is listening to any of your music. Why bother releasing and distributing anything? I've never understood this bizarre viewpoint, just make music for yourself, don't release it, don't play shows. It's simple.

Despite these goofy moments, "Servants of the Beast" is actually a really good album and I enjoyed it quite a bit when it came out. I may not pull the album out very often, but when I throw it on from time to time I do find it enjoyable. Temple of Baal did an excellent job of nailing that mid-90's atmosphere of Black Metal, right down to the recording quality. This early 2000's era was one of the last times we'd be able to hear this from bands, since a lot of studios and bands were forced to upgrade their technology in general.

Temple of Baal - Black Unholy Presence
Chanteloup Creations, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Tempting the Bastard
2. Black Unholy Presence
3. Spirit of Vertova
4. Black War
5. Faces of the Void
6. Woman of Dark Desires (Bathory cover)

"Black Unholy Presence" is the second demo from Temple of Baal and it's not too different from the first one. In fact you'll notice a lot of the songs re-appear on this recording. I missed out on the original pressing of this and instead I have the Oaken Shield pressing from 2002 limited to 888 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #321. The Bathory cover was not featured on the original release and is a rehearsal recording from 2001.

Given the fact that these demos are recorded only a year apart "Black Unholy Presence" doesn't have all that much more to offer us, except for a few new  tracks. The recording quality is, honestly, a little bit better. It still retains that old, raw rehearsal feel to the music, but they clearly used a much better setup this time around. With this we can definitely enjoy the riffs a lot better, so, if you're looking into some of that nostalgic feeling Black Metal, Temple of Baal certainly brought that with this new demo. Songs like "Spirit of Vertova" have that great blend of Black Metal intensity and groove, so to a certain degree I think their songwriting has improved even from the last demo. The only aspect of the demo that isn't great are the vocals. The vocals are so blown out that the vocalist might as well just be using a distortion pedal, and, in fact, that is probably what he was doing. These vocals never sound for a whole release. They work in subtle moments, but just usually sound terrible overall. That's really the only thing I found overtly annoying.

If you are a die hard fan of old school demos and Black Metal, Temple of Baal definitely don't disappoint. This is early 90's worship through and through. I like that they manage to stay raw on the demo, but not so raw you have no idea what's going on.

Temple of Baal - Satanas Lux Solis
Self-Released, 1999
Genre: Black Metal

1. Undead Soul
2. Tempting the Bastard
3. Spirit of Vertova
4. Hunters
5. Woman of Dark Desires (Bathory cover)
6. Black War

The is the first debut from Temple of Baal out of France. Some members would go on to be involved in some other great projects outside of this one. Amduscias has already worked with the likes of Antaeus and I believe it was through that relation that I had first heard of Temple of Baal. This demo is not professionally done and instead has a xeroxed booklet and dubbed tape. These were limited to 200 copies and inside mine it says #55, but it doesn't list the limitation.

"Satanas Lux Solis" is pretty much everything you'd expect from a raw and poorly recorded demo. It even says in the liner notes "This piece of darkness was recorded live in the fucking studio", which I assume probably means practice space given the quality of recording. And from there I assume this is just whatever was captured on a mixer, because I doubt there was much mixing after the fact based on how this sounds. However, the recording quality works for this type of music really well, that raw unbridled sound fits the aesthetic Temple of Baal is really going for. You can technically hear everything well enough to figure out what's going on. The only thing I might change a little is having the guitars louder so I can hear the riffs better. In a lot of ways Temple of Baal borrows their sound from Bathory, so it's no surprise that we see a cover of "Woman of Dark Desires" show up on this demo. If you throw in some Mayhem and Darkthrone you probably have a reasonable idea of what Temple of Baal is going for musically. Songs like "Black War" have some of that old LLN feel in the way the structuring is a bit more dissonant, which is something I like quite a bit.

I don't think Temple of Baal's demo is really going to stand out in the massive sea of Black Metal demos these days, however, I think "Satanas Lux Solis" is a solid start for this new project. I could see them writing pretty solid material in the future. If you're already a Temple of Baal fan you should check out where the project started, a journey that I always find rather interesting. I'm looking forward to what comes next!