Released: 2015, Cruz del Sur Records
Oslo, Norway’s occult band Magister Templi return with their second LP, INTO DUAT. Egyptian mythology fans will no doubt recognize Duat as the land of the dead, as Egyptian mythology and history continues to be an inspirational fount for heavy metal. INTO DUAT is thematically united around Egyptian mythology and the deities of that pantheon. Released all the way back in April in Europe, the band has only now secured North American distribution for the album’s September release.
Stylistically, Magister Templi eschews black metal, instead combining elements of doom, NWOBHM, and a dash of Mercyful Fate. The album is carried by guitarists Baphomet and Patriark whose riffs and fluid soloing help overcome a timid mix and mostly ordinary songs. The chief area of contention for most listeners will be Abraxas d'Ruckus’s vocals. Without question, d’Ruckus’s voice gives the band its own signature sound as his style carries a whiff of the medieval. It is a unique style to be sure, alternatingly unsettling yet well-suited to the ancient topics and mystical feel of the Egyptian mythology themes of the album. Having said that, it is an acquired taste, much like Manilla Road’s Mark Shelton and not one that will have wide appeal.
Ultimately, a unique voice and good guitar work cannot disguise the mostly pedestrian song craft on INTO DUAT. I read somewhere that the band wanted to sound underground. Well, mission accomplished, especially if the goal is to play in sweaty hovels to a dozen souls every night. INTO DUAT is worth a listen to hear and file away for future reference the guitar duo of Magister Templi. Fans of third and fourth tier NWOBHM bands might also find some use, but for the rest of us there are too many bands out there that have done this for longer, and more importantly, better. I give it a grudging 3 out of five, raised a half star by the notable guitar work.