In 2003 TEMPLE OF BAAL offered up to the world an album often criticised for its production values. I never understood why until now. “Servants Of The Beast” had a typical lo-fi buzz that allowed the material a primeval edge to what was essentially primeval music. Undeniably, the relentless Black Metal attack, punctuated often with first wave and Thrash elements, was well suited to the limited, but effective, production value.
Now, it is 2005 and TEMPLE OF BAAL have returned with “Traitors To Mankind,” an album which is the same, but has shifted further along the Black/Thrash divide. The melancholy, characteristic, French Black Metal riffs pioneered by MÜTIILATION occasionally rear their head and when coupled with bitter “Transilvanian Hunger” melodies, offer up a credible atmosphere of evil and dejection.
Nothing new then, “Servants Of The Beast” did that too. No, what is different is that the rumbling din of first-wave Black Metal and Thrash riffs has been given more prominence and a suitable production to lend frightful impact. Still filthy, “Traitors To Mankind” benefits from a perfect instrumental balance and a jagged, weighty, crunch that adds force to the thrashing riffs, yet still allows the melodies full atmospheric development.
The riffs and variations are first class, with equal amounts of intense atmospheres and trudging attitude. They are no longer at their best when they go faster, the slower sections have been sculpted to give the perfect counterbalance to the faster and are equal in quality, depth and execution.
The very fact that the MÜTIILATION inspired “Graveyard Of Disgust” can brilliantly co-exist on the same album as “Under The Spell” – a track that could easily have been lifted from VENOM’s tour de force, “Black Metal” – is a testament to the compositional brilliance of this album. The overall effect is one of engaging simplicity with the perfect harmony of nearly captivating melodies and rocking grooves. (Online May 6, 2006)