Written by CoreyCritiques
Spire – Temple Of Kronos
Avant Garde/Black metal from Melbourne, Australia
Released February 19th, 2021
via Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Last year I started following the Sentient Ruin Laboratories record label on social media. Fast forward to February of 2021 and they are just promoting the hell out of this new album from a band of which I had never heard. That band is the Australian duo Spire and the album is TEMPLE OF KHRONOS. Having enjoyed previous bands from this label like Shaidar Logoth and Novae Militiae, I FINALLY, almost reluctantly was like “Alright, fine. I’ll give it a listen. Stop taking up my Facebook feed, goddamnit!”
Well, fuck me sideways with a clock. I’m so glad I gave this album a listen because it is so good that it brought me out of my mental funk and inspired me to start writing reviews again. The album begins with the sound of a defective clock, counting down to something sinister and perhaps a bit deranged. Things get started with the track “Hymn I – Tyrant”. Filled with mid-paced guitar melodies that swirl and crawl underneath your skin, plodding drums that reverberate as if the drums were coated in mud, then recorded in a cave, this song has that ritualistic quality to it that I’ve come to associate with Sentient Ruin. And then there’s the vocals. Now, I’m not going to lie, these vocals were a turn-off at first. At first listen, they reminded me of the band Devil Doll (which, if you haven’t yet, please stop reading this review and go listen to DIES IRAE). It’s this weird half spoken-word, half sung style. Off-putting at first but it really fits the odd style of spacy, psychedelic style of Black Metal being played. The guitars are like razors on a train, just chugging and chugging, I do wish we got a little bit of a beefier tone for the bass. I feel like it could have really helped to darken the atmosphere and add a little more flavor and nuance to the melody.
The album also makes incredible use of repetition without ever becoming boring. In particular, “Hymn II – Tormentor” closes with some eerie looped vocals repeating an indiscernible phrase over and over until eventually, the energy picks back up and just continues to raise the stakes until the whole song coalesces into an epic, headbanging maelstrom.
For as weird and innovative as this album is, it still includes some easily recognizable traits that just SCREAM Black Metal, like 2nd wave tremolo picked guitars, buzzing like a chainsaw in the frosty forests alongside some ferocious blastbeats. The vocalist keeps it fresh throughout the album alternating between that high-pitched Countess/Lifelover/Shining style, classic 2nd wave snarls, and then more of the half-sung half spoken-word vocal style. These songs are ferocious, but the duo know how and when to give the listener a breather, often using slow, ominous chanting and pedal effects to establish atmosphere before revving things up again. There is no room given to breathe, not even when they bring in some chanting and layer it in the background. Even with this slow ominous chanting, the guitars keep shredding and the drums just keep pounding.
Of all the albums I’ve listened to in February, this was the one I listened to the most. It’s so evil, so trance-inducing, so headbang-able while also being an incredibly introspective record. It undeniably has Black Metal as its foundation but it also takes influence from Psychedelic music and Death Metal. If you want interesting, deranged, ritualistic, fuzzy-as-fuck metal, please pick this up!