It's 2014 and high time you got some new music into your playlist -- seriously. And that's doubly true when it comes local music, of which there's an abundance in metro Phoenix. The Valley's music scene is gifted with burgeoning bands and emerging artists who will be making waves and getting attention this year.
Up on the Sun is highlighting more than a dozen such acts for our series 14 Bands You Need to Hear in 2014. Today, our resident hard rock writer Lauren Wise tries to crack the code of the mysterious metal act known as Tempel.
Darkly intoxicating and atmospheric doom metal concoctions are a specialty of local experimental instrumental duo Tempel. A collaboration of guitarist/keyboardist/engineer Ryan Wenzel and drummer Rich Corle, the band mixes such murky heavy metal variants as death, black, and sludge into their sonic alchemy, layering sounds from each genre to create something refreshing and captivating for any type of music fan.
Metalheads may love it for the double bass and grainy guitar solos, while fans of reggae and hip-hop might appreciate the band's music for its ambling atmospherics, skeletal drums, and chiming guitar embellishments.
Tempel formed in 2003 as a larger ensemble but eventually dwindled to just Wenzel and Corle, and this skeleton crew approach has proven to be more than enough to maintain Tempel's epic instrumental metal soundscapes. The duo self-released its debut On the Steps of the Temple in 2012 digitally before being signed to L.A. metal label Prosthetic Records late last year, which re-released the album in January. (Fast fact: The band's original name was Temple, but was ultimately changed to Tempel to avoid legal issues with another band.
The masterful songwriting achieved the band's vision: to lead you on a dark trip through the golden skies, angular mountains and twisted brambles to reach the temples depicted on the album's cover art. Although there are nary any lyrics, the abundance of instrumental character and storytelling in Tempel's music commands attention all the way through.
The six-song, hour-long album is like the soundtrack to a psychological thriller. The album opener, "Mountain" has crushing tones, double bass, and intoxicating rhythms (reminiscent of old Enslaved), while "Final Years" is devoted to melodic, chilling mournful bliss. And then there is "The Mist That Shrouds the Peaks," which captures the creepiness of Stephen King's The Mist (the novella, not the movie).
Although there's no word on their next album as of yet, Tempel is definitely a local act to keep tabs on -- especially if you're into instrumental music.