On Friday of this week, July 23rd, Testimony Records will release Hades Unleashed, the third full-length of the titanically powerful German death metal band Temple of Dread. It is everything that its title promises — as hellish, as electrifying, and as explosive an album as you’re likely to encounter in the realms of death metal this year.
The band’s two previous albums, Blood Craving Mantras and World Sacrifice, were damned good, but the songwriting on this new record still shows big steps forward, with even greater dynamics of tempo and mood, but without stinting on the hell-raising, bone-smashing power of the band’s attack or the astonishing insanity of the vocals.
The fuse starts burning at some point before you press play on the album, because “Aithon’s Hunger” explodes immediately when you do that, detonating in a blast wave of battering drums, blazing riffage, and absolutely scorching vocals. The music is brazen and broiling, blaring and barbarous, with a feeling of unhinged yet glorious ferocity. The rapidly shifting drumwork is marvelous, and so is the morphing fretwork, which becomes cruel and ominous as well as crazed — and the soloing is as exhilarating as it is eerie and berserk.
As album openers go, that one seems designed to suck the wind from your lungs, ratchet your adrenaline levels into the red zone, and ruin your neck. “Necromanteion” isn’t quite as much of a conflagration as the opener, but instead is more devoted to jolting grooves and blaring chords, accented by guitar leads and soloing that sound like a trip through a horror house. The vocals briefly switch to grim spoken words before resuming the spine-tingling, larynx-shredding madness, and the riffing eventually combines sensations that are dismal and doomed as well as deranged.
We commented at the outset about the band’s songwriting dynamism, and the variations continue with “Wrath of the Gods (Furor Divinus)”, which is a prime cut of ferocious thrashing death, a supercharged, superheated surge of obliterating drumwork, vicious and gloriously pulsating riffage, and rabid, bloodthirsty vocals. It will also jar your spine and spin your head around with its soloing. It’s wild and highly addictive, and just what you’ll need if your ass is dragging.
And speaking of your ass, it will get stomped by “Threefold Agony”, as it mounts an imperious march of infernal grandeur that’s both ominous and terrorizing, while “Empyrean” sounds like a racing warzone in which the combatants are being blown apart by automatic weaponry and eviscerated by slashing blades wielded by fiends in the throes of bloodspraying ecstasy, and “Crypts of the Gorgon” brings into play a punk-like scampering momentum to go along with fierce and frightening paroxysms of sound and episodes of chilling unearthliness.
And if you make it this far with your head still attached to your shoulders and your mind still clinging to the remnants of sanity, the final trio of tracks — “Nefarious, I”, “Whores of Pompeii”, and “Procession to Tartarus” — offer further electrifying amalgams of brutalization, bombast, hellish magnificence, and the thrilling chill of excursions into supernatural realms.
Hades Unleashed was recorded, mixed, and mastered once again by band drummer Jörg Uken in his Soundlodge-Studio in Rhauderfehn, Germany, and he did a terrific job. The lyrics, once again written by band friend Frank Albers, deal conceptually with ancient, mainly Greek, myths. And credit for the phenomenal cover art goes to the Italian maestro Paolo Girardi.
Testimony Records is giving the album a suitably lavish treatment, making it available in variant vinyl formats as well as on CD and digitally, together with apparel. Explore the options via the links below.