Written by: DR on 22/03/2011 18:16:21

Metal music in any of its extensions is not something this scribe can claim to be that familiar with, but lately I've found myself opening up to it which is in no small-part the reason I was drawn to Tephra's third full-length "Tempel". From Braunschweig, Germany, this quartet are something of a melting pot of influences, ranging from post, doom and sludge metal, and even hardcore, making it hard to pigeon-hole them, adding to why this is such a solid release.

For the sake of this review I'll refer to their style as post-metal because that is honestly what it sounds most like to me. Over the course of 47 minutes Tephra create eight tracks of atmospheric metal that all run seamlessly into the next, without the intention of being heavy, destructive or crushing for the sake of it; they're creating a mood, one of dejection and despondence. At the forefront of this is vocalist Ercüment, who honestly wouldn't sound out of place in a hardcore band, and his aggressive yell that is capable of devastating the soundscapes. Once he makes his entrance in opener "Ghost" you'll surrender all your attention to him, and that's a common theme throughout the album. It feels as though they are constantly leading up to his screams, using them as something to grab the listener, like in "Chains And Pounding Hooves" and eight-minute centre-piece "How The West Was Lost".

That's not to say they are instrumentally lacking. It's just that minus the screams the soundscapes are left bare; despite being technically impressive, they lack character. "Agra", "City Immersed In Dust" and "Seven Teeth" are the purely-instrumental offerings, and consequently pass by underwhelmingly. In "How The West Was Lost" there's a bridge between opening vocals and closing vocals lasting some minutes, allowing the guitarists to experiment by floating out of the dusty, stodgy valley of sound of their comfort zone and into progressive loftiness, and to great effect.

If you're looking for an ominous post-metal adventure, Tephra won't lead you astray with "Tempel". Their grasp of tight song-writing and willingness to create a metal record that's more ambient than it is abrasive, haunting than it is hostile, makes this a worthwhile listen, and although they're not reaping abundant rewards just yet, they may do in the future.

Download: How The West Was Lost, Ghost
For The Fans of: Omega Massif, ISIS
Listen: Stream it all on Golden Antenna's site

Release Date 18.02.2011
Golden Antenna

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