The Order Of The Solar Temple - The Order Of The Solar Temple - (9.5/10)
Published on July 27, 2014
This is the cult of rock and roll!
When this gorgeously adorned promo showed up in my inbox I was intrigued. Sharing their name with a French secret society modeled upon the ideas of the Knights Templar and the teachings of Aleister Crowley, whose rather recent history includes both infanticide and mass-suicides, The Order Of The Solar Temple is a product of the esoteric Canadian underground. Not much info is available about the band, but at least one member has been involved in Vancouver doom metal outfit Funeral Circle.
Opening with the bittersweet “Fallout Woman”, it’s immediately clear that The Order Of The Solar Temple want to take us for a ride down the spirited highway of rock and roll. The obvious point of reference is the devilish allure of the Blue Öyster Cult; it’s sleazy and groovy and preposterously catchy. Cult leader Matt “Macabre” Emery has a set of pipes that spans the whole range from a soft poppy lull, by way of sinister snarls, to outrageous falsetto vocals that could make King Diamond weep. Backed by wailing guitar solos and enchanting organs and keyboards, the initially straightforward approach is underpinned by a surprising depth of excellent instrumentation.
In 2010 the obscure upstarts Ghost made waves through the metal world, waves that would soon ripple throughout mainstream popular culture. Back then fans and critics where whispering about those mysterious masked men who took the infectiousness of Blue Öyster Cult and added a dash of Mercyful Fate to create something original. However accurate those oft-repeated words of praise may have been when describing Ghost, they are perfectly suited for The Order Of The Solar Temple. Add the ghoulish flamboyancy of Death SS, the NWOBHM riffs of Witchfinder General and Angel Witch, and the lush instrumentation and sheer heaviness of Pagan Altar and Solstice, and you’re approaching the sonic area where the Order conduct their hedonistic rituals.
The lengthy “Aeon Of Horus” and the Lovecraft-inspired “Jervas Dudley” are both traditional doom metal masterpieces, recanting epic tales of thelemic magick and sinister dreams. Although remarkably different in tone, classic hard rocking tunes like “The Cult (Of Rock And Roll)” and “Pale Horse” feel completely in sync with their slower counterparts. In spite of all its twists and turns, The Order Of The Solar Temple is built on a solid foundation of bluesy rock and old school heavy metal. It’s not exactly subtle; their cover of B. Ö. C.’s “Dominance And Submission” stays close to its source, ultimately putting a vaguely ominous and theatrically deranged spin on the rock and roll classic. The result could have been just another retro outfit, but The Order have such an eagerness and manic edge that it’s impossible not to get excited.
The Order Of The Solar Temple is a strange old brew indeed, invigorated by an overzealous performance that puts most debut albums to shame. A shamelessly revisionist love-letter to the age of so-called “proto-metal”, the most venerable Order has put out an incredibly visceral hard rock opus, and one of the greatest albums of 2014. There’s not a single weak track here, each song is memorable in its own toe-tapping way.
Praise Horus, come worship with us!