A change towards psychedelic rock is a solid choice for the Sunday, as those that have dragged themselves back seem to have dramatically thinned. Opening the main stage, Kent band Ohhms are a relatively new band on the scene, but quickly prove they deserve every drop of respect they have earned with their brand of progressive doom while the frontman’s hazy vocals are coupled with looking like he is having a perpetually awkward orgasm but somehow they complement each other perfectly and the unusual but endearing performance is a talking point long after the band have finished.
First band of the Sunday second stage are Venom Prison, at 4pm owing to an hours delay after Sunn O))) nearly levelled the entire building the night before. These were another band I checked out on a whim and proved to be one of the more pleasant highlights of the weekend. Given the number of people raving about them on my FB I wasn’t alone in discovering these. Formed by ex-members of Wolf Down, Brutality Will Prevail and Desolated. They wasted absolutely no time in tearing the second stage a new one. Playing a thoroughly impressive set of hardcore and death metal, this is impressive stuff which manages to get the crowd going with seeming ease. Musically these are absolutely fantastic to hear, fast and heavy but with plenty of groove. Special mention must go to singer Larissa who has way too much stage presence for such a small stage. I’ll definitely be checking these out again next time they tour.
The addition of New Model Army bassist Ceri Monger has elevated Essex maulers The King Is Blind to another level. Unencumbered by an instrument, frontman Steve Tovey stalks the stage, giving punters a taste of his vicious snarl. Their bubbling cauldron of death, doom and black metal is a potent mix which is steadily gaining momentum and growing a devoted fanbase in the process.
Monarch’s female vocalist may be tiny in stature, but don’t let that cause you to underestimate her. From calm, creepy whispers and slow droning notes we are lulled into a false sense of security but that doesn’t last long before harrowing screams shatter the calm creating a dramatic yet captivating performance. Swan Song play to an energetic and appreciative crowd. The front man has a huge amount of energy and is all over the stage with the energy of ten. The rest of the band aren’t quite as energetic or are trying to stay out of the way I can’t quite decide. Unfortunately despite their considerable energies they are simply not my cup of tea. It’s obvious though that the crowd disagree with that assessment and have a good time.
This seems to be a particular talent of the French acts on that day, with Year of No Light following on with their largely instrumental atmospheric post-metal. With two drummers and three guitarist this band carries with them a huge sound that flickers between light moments before crashing down to become crushingly heavy.
A bizarre choice for the 3rd stage considering their rising stock. Tribulation bring their Nosferatu inspired blackened occultism with a sense of true rock showmanship. Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hulten trade off licks while strutting around with the cocksure swagger of an act that knows this is their time.
For anyone surprised to see Ghold heading up the main stage above the previous two bands, you wouldn’t have been the only one as the pair are more used to hitting Brixton’s minuscule Windmill or Camden’s Black Heart than a major festival main-stage. While the duo may have looked a little swallowed up in the space, there was little doubt they could pull it off with ease and their appearance as a major billing at the festival is no less than this band deserve. Their self-described “weight & grunt power” music is realised as they pummelled the audience with their monolithic sound.
Reeking of grief and filth Vallenfyre are relentless. Gregor Macintosh is a masterful frontman and ex My Dying Bride man Hamish Glencross churns out ugly slabs of brutality like ‘Scabs’ with ease. Quips about playing a cow shed aside this is northern cynicism distilled to a foul brew all lap up. ‘Cathedrals Of Dread’ sees the audience lose their shit. ‘Desecration’ concludes a mercurial performance from these purveyors of crust addled death.
Goatwhore are a band I’ve been wanting to see live for a very long time. They play straight up old school heavy/death metal, but there’s no denying they do it better than most. One of the bands I was most looking forward to at Temples and they really don’t disappoint.
Playing to an absolutely rammed 3rd stage, in fact it was only thanks to the excellent Temples/Motion security letting us in the back door that I could even get into the building at all. Both the band and crowd are electric, with pits, fist pumping, devil horns and crowd surfers a plenty. This is a phenomenal performance.
Canadian noiseinks Ken Mode are truly unhinged but suffer from a muddy sound mix. New stomper ‘Blessed’ is raucous and angular with Jesse Matthewson snarling about ‘handfuls of shit tossed at a proverbial wall’ in a manner which recalls a more feral take on the kind of dirty art rock 90s underground label Amphetamine Reptile specialise in. Despite battling with the mix this is a passionate and intense performance that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Sorrowful and passionate Pallbearer impress with their enchantingly morose take on doom. Recent opus The Foundations Of Burden is unquestionably the finest release in this genre of the last five years and the band’s gut-wrenching performance more than justifies their place on the bill. ‘Devoid Of Redemption’ and ‘The Ghost I Used To Be’ are achingly beautiful slabs of epic melancholia charged with elephantine riffage and bags of soul. Putting in a truly memorable shift on the main stage, the Arkansas outfit look destined to ascend to the very pinnacle of extreme music if they can maintain such breath-taking form.
Things get technical as progressive death metal band Between the Buried and Me close up the second stage for the weekend. One of the more usual booking of the weekend, they don’t seem to slot in with any of the running themes of the festival. Not put off by this, the room is suitably packed with people forcing their way through into the room as the quintet bounce their way through the set mixing up impossibly complex riff combinations with powerful clean vocals and gutturals. While this band may not have been for everyone, there certainly aren’t many bands that can pull off this kind of sound at a festival like Temples and still keep the crowd enraptured. I can’t say I enjoy the set, but I do leave with absolute respect for the band as both musicians and performers.
Americana drone rockers Earth deliver expansive desert soundscapes that should make for an enthralling experience but that is promptly derailed when Dylan Carlson’s guitar malfunctions leaving the band to improvise while a replacement instrument is located. Once this technical hitch is rectified the band launch into ‘The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull’ which seduces with its psychedelic textures. Carlson himself is reminiscent of a young Charles Manson and remains an enthralling character to behold as he coaxes transcendent notes from his instrument. The spaghetti westerns of Ennio Morricone are often recalled not least in the sorrowful ‘Old Black’ which draws tonight’s performance to a close. A fantastic example of an event curated by true music lovers, Temples looks to remain a Mecca for underground music fans for many years to come.
WORDS BY ROSS BAKER, CAITLIN SMITH, & RICH PRICE