Released: 2009, Agonia Records
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
French metal gets a lot of hard knocks. This is partly due to the fact that very few French bands have broken past the most rudimentary levels of metal fame; perhaps there’s something about the French character does not lend itself towards the production of great metal? The previously unfair generalisation aside, French black/death metal act Temple of Baal does a solid job of cranking up the Blasphemy-o-Meter, even if it stumbles along the way.
Operating at a deeply detuned grind, LIGHTSLAYING RITUALS opens with the chasm-like tremolo frenzy “Piercing the Veils of Slumber” – this track reminded me a lot of the Swedish death metal band called Tribulation, whose latest release really knocked my socks off. The line between black and death stylings crosses a lot, with Amduscias’ vocals operating at more of a rending gasp instead of the typical screechy croak employed by most Norwegian-types. Nonetheless, there are a lot of similarities to the original 90s scene, particularly to Darkthrone. “Dead Cult” feels like a gurgling horror movie soundtrack, with slower riffing and bombastic malice. “Black Sun of the Damned” really impressed me with the moody riffing and gnashing bass lines, and the lead-up to the main verses is absolutely killer. “Vectors to the Void” shows the bands’ speedier side, and the results are brutal, malevolent, and wickedly enjoyable.
LIGHTSLAYING RITUALS has blasphemy, aggression, malice, and excellent musicianship all around. The songs are mostly well put together, with excellent execution in dynamics and mood. Nonetheless, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, or better. Temple of Baal’s shortcoming is failing to add anything new to an aging genre. This is a record that could have been released in the mid 90s, with good musicianship and vastly superior production being the main differentials. These criticisms aside, this is still a strong black metal effort that stands several severed limbs above the murky pack. Anyone in need of a fresh injection of evil into their veins would do well to explore the Temple of Baal.