PICK OF THE WEEK: Heavy Temple blast into heart of classic tale on smoking, sultry ‘Lupi Amoris’

Photo by Gene Smirnov

I’m sure we’ve all had times when we have seen a band that we didn’t know much about or maybe never heard of that we see live, and the performance changes everything. It’s the amazing discovery phase of live shows we haven’t had for the past 15 months, though it’s coming back. But having those experiences can etch a band into your DNA forever.

A few years ago, I had circled Heavy Temple as one of the bands I made a point to see at Descendants of Crom fest here in Pittsburgh, mostly based on word of mouth. I had listened to them a little bit before that, but it wasn’t until the three forces that comprised the band at that time took the stage that it really hit me. That were an absolute force, one of the best live performances I’ve seen in the last half decade or so, and from that point, I’ve been a devoted disciple. A lot has changed since then as 2/3 of the band was overhauled, and the goddamn pandemic happened, but Heavy Temple finally have delivered their debut full-length effort “Lupi Amoris” (translates to “wolves of love”). I was skeptical at first because I loved their previous lineup, but vocalist/bassist High Priestess Nighthawk surrounded herself with a smoking new lineup that includes guitarist Lord Paisley and drummer Baron Lycan. They created a five-track, 33-minute bruiser that reeks of doom thunder, bluesy haze, and psychedelic storms as the band is inspired by Angela Carter’s story The Company of Wolves, that takes the Little Red Riding Hood cautionary tale and turns it on its neck, embracing female sexuality and power, and lashing back against what society has deemed proper for a woman to possess and express. And they do it with fire.   

“A Desert Through the Trees” has the bass trampling and heavy blues riffs cutting into you, as the vocals soar. “I feel you like you feel me,” NightHawk wails, blasting you with sultry glory as the guitar work follows suit, blazing into hell. Things really pick up toward the end as psychedelic bubbling comes for you, melting steel, bringing the track to a delirious end. “The Wolf” brings a heavily trippy atmosphere that’s so thick you can practically touch it, and your head is just swimming in smoke. The vocals kick in as the track blasts through your ribcage, atmospheric playing heads into a raging fire, and the guitars punch back, spiraling and twisting, leaving the room spinning.

“The Maiden” has guitars glimmering and the bass rolling hard as the guitars ignite. The track pounds away, psyche madness stretches its black wings, and the soloing rips your face off, blistering and leaving you bruised at the end. “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” is the longest track, running 9:30 and starting with bass plodding and guitars agitating. The track absolutely swaggers as NightHawk howls, “Come to me, my king, let me kneel for you,” exuding power. The guitars melt as the song takes on a solid Sabbath-style blazing, bursting and feeling like you’re going to explode into flames. The playing steams as your flesh is scorched, the bass bubbles, and the track comes to a pummeling end, burying you. “Howling of a Prothalamion” is the closer, opening with eerie synth and rumbling drums as the track comes to life. Sinister riffs carve, the drums power, and the bass sprawls, adding to the madness. The bass and guitar work unite as molten fury spills over, the tempo keeps picking up and knifing away, and the track folds into awesome B-movie-style synth that disappears into the stars.

Heavy Temple had to overcome roster upheaval and the world basically shutting down, and they’ve come out from the other side with “Lupi Amoris,” their rock-solid 33-minute debut full-length record. This album should catapult the band into the conversation as one of the finest bands in doom, as they balance heaviness with mind-bending trippiness that might sound even better if your mind is altered. This is a smoking beast, a record that should put Heavy Temple’s name on more people’s tongues, their music scorching pathways through their brains.   

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple/

To buy the album, go here: http://lnk.spkr.media/heavy-temple-lupi-amoris

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords/

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