Album Title: Ritual Warfare
Date of Release: 30 April 2021
It will always remain a mystery as to why some bands make it big, whilst others struggle to get the attention they deserve. Right place, right time? Bias? Nepotism? Faces just don’t fit? It’s probably a mixture of all these factors to be honest, but it still baffles me. I say this because the subject of today’s review should be far bigger and more well-known than they currently are. So, let’s hope this review helps in some small way to redress the balance.
In their native Australia, Temtris is a name well-known amongst the metal-loving community. Indeed, this is a band of which I have become aware thanks to the persistent but polite badgering of a fan down under. Travel outside of the spider-infested sweat box of Australia though, and the name Temtris becomes known to a much more select group of metalheads. However, to those who remain unacquainted with this band, you ought to know that it’s not just the millions of deadly creatures that have teeth and venom; their bands do too, as Temtris ably demonstrate on ‘Ritual Warfare’, the sixth full-length release of their career that has so far extended beyond two decades. High time for the quintet to gain some deserved notoriety then.
Even the most ardent of fan must accede to the fact that Temtris don’t offer the metal world anything new or decidedly original. Mind you, I have met a few Australian sports fans over the years, so we may have to remove the blinkers before any kind of admission along these lines gets uttered! I jest of course, but it’s true that Temtris walk a path that will be familiar the world over: classic heavy metal, laced liberally with power metal, NWOBHM, and thrash elements. But crucially, these five musicians do it very well indeed. And, as we all know, when heavy metal is done well, it can be rather irresistible.
Naturally, much of the attention will initially be drawn to vocalist Genevieve Rodda, for she is blessed with one powerful set of pipes and lungs. Not so much from a musical point of view, although there are the occasional similarities, Temtris remind me of the now sadly defunct Triaxis in that they are/were both blessed with larger-than-life frontwomen, with real attitude, charisma, and great voices. I also feel the same sense of honesty and integrity when I listen to Temtris; they are a band who are playing exactly the kind of music they want, regardless of whether fame and fortune follows. It’s clear that the music comes first.
‘Ritual Warfare’ begins in splendid fashion too, with a galloping opening track entitled ‘Race To The End’. The intro is a groovy, almost tribal-sounding drum solo from Nicholas Bolin to get the blood pumping, before in march the twin guitars of Anthony Fox and Nadi Noroozian, who deliver a melodic riff, over which Rodda signals her entry with an arresting wail. Her tone is satisfyingly deep in the verses, allowing herself to open up a little more when the song demands it, particularly in the melodic chorus. Being rooted in classic metal, it will come as no surprise that we get a lead solo trade-off from the two axemen, whilst the tempo remains high and vibrant, with the rumbling bass of Nick Wilks working nicely in tandem with the fast-paced drumming. It’s a great way to start the record and my interest is well and truly piqued for what is to follow.
The thrash side of Temtris comes much more to the fore within ‘One For All’. After the sounds of wailing sirens, Wilk’s bass takes centre stage initially, whilst the guitars cautiously build over the top with some cool riffing that quickly picks up pace to thunder along at a real lick and with real sharpness. There’s an anger in Rodda’s voice as the lyrics delve into grittier, political territory. Despite the added aggression and energy here, Temtris never forget the importance of melody, as some harmonic leads emerge to temper the proceedings a little.
One of the best tracks on ‘Ritual Warfare’ has to be ‘Seven Sins of Man’. Slightly longer, it begins in dark, brooding fashion before veering off into a much spikier direction, albeit keeping the darker atmosphere very much intact. But the real magic happens just before the three-minute mark, when the heaviness drops away to be replaced by a delicate acoustic-led melody that’s really beautiful. Rodda belts out some impossibly long notes, not dissimilar in some ways to the mighty Bruce Dickinson during the gentler passage. As is the Temtris way however, the track soon gathers pace, sprinting away as if its life depended upon it, ending the song in breathless, heavy fashion.
If I’m honest, I’m not quite as enamoured with ‘Erased’ and ‘Tempus Aeternum’ which, despite being perfectly good heavy metal songs, don’t quite ‘wow’ me in the way others do. But there’s no denying the quality of tracks like ‘Forever’, which is a NWOBHM-meets-power metal song that belts along wonderfully, full of dual guitar harmonies, strong hooks, and even the occasional gruff growl to counterpoint the superb melodies that lace the song so expertly.
Then there’s the title track which warrants some attention. The sound of plainsong gives the introduction a theatrical bent, before the riffs scythe and slice almost as much as the anti-religious and anti-war diatribes that flow from Rodda in her captivating and passionate voice. The Dickinson comparisons drift through my mind once again, as the hairs stand up on the back of my neck time and time again. The chorus is strong, as are the lead solos from both guitarists, and the seven-minute run-time just flies by.
An album of this nature would not be complete without the ubiquitous heavy metal call to arms. It arrives in the form of the album’s closing track, ‘Always United’, a title that causes minor problems if you’re a fan of City, Town, Rovers, or Hotspur. Joking aside, the track is a final salute to this glorious music that we all love but have been without during the pandemic. “You know, that metal lives on…we’ll be back together my friends. Never divided, always united.” It could have been unnecessarily cheesy, but somehow Temtris make it work, thanks to the fact that you know these guys sincerely mean every word.
I urge all of you who enjoy classic heavy metal with NWOBHM, power and thrash tendencies to give ‘Ritual Warfare’ a listen. Music this good needs to be heard and Temtris deserve all the plaudits that I hope come their way off the back of this fine record. It may not be the most original music you’ll hear this year, but when it is written and performed as well as this, it helps to remind us all of why we fell in love with heavy metal in the first place.
The Score Of Much Metal: 90%
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: