RSS Feed

Shallow Grave

Battlegod Productions (2014)
Rating: 8/10

Formed initially under the name of Labyrinth in 1999, and then altering the name slightly to Labyrinthia, before finally deciding on the equally mystical Temtris, this female-fronted band from Australia released its debut outing in 2003, under the title of Threshold.

This was followed in 2007 by Masquerade, but it’s been another seven years before the release of Shallow Grave; an album most certainly worth the weight if you like powerful heavy metal.

With its creepy cover art, Shallow Grave also comes armed with eight songs spearheaded by the stunning, soaring vocal delivery of Genevieve Rodda. This is one talented woman with a set of pipes that could surely summon the dead. And not only that but Temtris is equipped with another vocalist too in guitarist Llew Smith, who brings a contrasting style of deep, grimacing growls which almost toy with Rodda’s silky siren wail.

I’m rarely enthused by a double vocal attack but this works brilliantly as the pair goes head to head over the crunchy guitar work which is bolstered by Anthony Fox. Coupled with the stormy percussive punishment dished out by Ben Hart and the durable bass trickles and trembles of Adam Wotherspoon, Temtris’ third instalment is one that metal fans need to take note off.

At times there is a tendency for the quintet to lean towards thrash metal, but the next minute the versatility is displayed with a power metal caress which doubles us with traditional metal arrangements. In fact, so refreshing is this album that on several occasions I’ve stripped it back in my mind and on varying occasions listened to each instrument separately.

Now, this may make it sound as though Temtris offers up a menu of complex, befuddling metal, but rarely is that the case. In fact, it’s so easy on the ears that one cannot put it down. As the opening cut ‘Captured’ comes in with a bass plod and demonic growl I’m hooked, and then there is that crisp guitar sound and Hart’s jabbing drum and then boooom, Rodda takes the reins like some bewitching banshee of the night tempting us into that cavern of jewels only to lead us astray into the darkness.

‘Slave To The System’ follows and again the hook is killer and above all crystal clear, so it’s hats off to the production team here and the gallop is one of an unstoppable force. Now, I’m not going to categorise this as old-fashioned metal, but it’s not overtly contemporary either; this is a record that melts together the cold steel splendour of, say, Nevermore with the creaking wizardry of Dio.

The title track begins in mystical fashion with an orchestral hint and a sparse guitar trickle before Rodda’s voice booms, “The silent man digs a shallow grave beyond the trees, and in the dirt he buries all his hopes and dreams” and we’re in the drama, jarred by the teasing riff as her voice becomes deeper and deeper, only to then angle towards the heavens as a high flying bird. This is spectacular stuff, echoing some of the great female-fronted bands of the 80s, such as Hellion and Chastain, and giving them a run for their money, such is the fiery nature constructed within that tight rhythm section which is built upon that blazing twin guitar attack and Hart’s cascading drums.

As the album progresses, Rodda goes from strength to strength, resulting in the climatic bonus track ‘Your Time Has Come’ where she transforms into a truly diabolical beast to work in tandem with those huge riffs and Smith’s occasional barks of fury. Elsewhere, we have a batch of tunes with a foundation of double-bass cracks and gothic riffage, nowhere more evident than on the juggernaut swagger of ‘The Entity’ and the fantastic slamming architecture of ‘Darkness Lies’, which builds steadily into a foaming sea of metal mayhem.

I can’t praise this album enough, and it’s a compliment to Llew Smith when I say that his guttural growls do not litter this album too frequently, but when required his injections are most welcome when it comes to cavorting with Genevieve Rodda’s highs. I believe that I should be punished by death for missing out on Temtris’ early records. But then again, by being dumped in with the worms I am sure to miss out on the future delights of this incredible band, so spare me for at least one more outing into the realms of epic heavy metal with lashings of deathly thrash influence.

Neil Arnold

<< Back to Album & EP Reviews

Related Posts via Categories