Thursday, 17 July 2014

Melodic Thursday: Temtris

Thursday is once again upon us, and the week is drawing to a close, just like every week. Some things are constant, some things are expected. This week I have been listening to something a bit different, and yet a bit familiar. Something traditional, but incorporating the extreme.

Formed in Queensland in 2002, Temtris produce a form of dark melodic metal. This seems to mean a traditional heavy metal style with death and black metal influencing the riffs, vocals and lyrics. And indeed it seems to be so, with intricate riffing from Anthony 'Fox' Roberts, deep melodic vocals from Genevieve Rodda, and death growls from Llew Smith. Unusually for a band employing growls, the harsh vocals are kept in the background. It is Genevieve's melodic vocal that takes centre stage.

Temtris rose from the ashes of a former Australian metal band called Labyrinth. After a period of being called Labyrinthia, the band switched tactics and became Temtris. The name is, obviously, a play on the word Temptress and references the female melodic lead vocal.

The band's stated aim is to produce a form of melodic metal that incorporates everything from Mike Oldfield to Emperor. In that they certainly seem to succeed, but in another way the sound feels older, more mature. During songs it's possible to forget that this is a current band, but then be brought swiftly to the presence by a modern hook, a well timed growl or an infectious groove. The use of the twin vocals, twin guitars and a groove-laden bass gives a well rounded sound.

Also, they do not sound like Evanescence. This is something that Temtris seem very keen on explaining. And, true enough, they don't. In fact, the sound is very much their own blend of traditional heavy metal with black, death and thrash elements.

The band's first demo and album are all but lost in the mists of time. There is no sign of the 2002 demo Escape Reality anywhere, and the debut album, Threshold, was only ever made available at gigs. There are three tracks from it on the band's Reverb Nation page, though.

The sound on these tracks is self-produced and as such lacks some weight in the drum mixing, but gives a very good indication of what is to come. Prominent prog rock stylings complement the already more than competent vocal performances. For Threshold the lineup included Wayne Campbell on drums and Aaron "Lord Azgard" Warboys on bass.

One thing that has always set Temtris apart is the quality of songwriting. The lyrics tell dark tales and could easily fit into any metal genre. Heartfelt and poignant, they could be growled by a death metal band or sung with raw emotion by a power metal band and hold as much weight. Testament to the songwriting is the fact that each song is recognisable and distinct. There is no run-on wall of sound here.

By the time the second album, Masquerade, came out in 2007 Temtris had been signed to Battlegod Productions. Thanks to this fact the production quality increased and the album is, thankfully, still available.

But even with a fuller sound, the band's style remains. The same strong songwriting, the same heavy grooves, the same intricate riffs remain. Again, the songs are distinct and recognisable and the lyrics are deep and meaningful.

There is less prog influence, and more traditional heavy metal in the sound. The interplay of clean vocals and sparse growls works well as a sort of punctuation to the lyrics. Emphasis without going overboard. There is also a more evident extreme metal influence evident to proceedings.

For Masquerade the lineup featured Tom "Machine" Wallace on drums and Gav Swan on bass. A constant swapping of drummer and bassist seems a feature of Temtris. The core band, Fox, Genevieve and Llew, remain.

After Masquerade it seems that Temtris dropped out of the world for a while. There is certainly no explanation for the fact that the band's next release came a full seven years later.

Starting with a teaser single in April of 2014 entitled Your Time Has Come, Temtris forged a new album with another new bassist and drummer, this time in the form of Ben Hart and Adam "Spoon" Wotherspoon respectively.

Taking another step forward and incorporating a more doom metal style, the basic Temtris sound remains but at a much slower pace. This could feasibly sound terrible, but instead it gives each aspect of the band's sound room to breathe. Genevieve's powerful vocal is still front and centre and the grooves are even heavier and better defined. Llew's growls are put to great use to underline and emphasise rather than interplay with Genevieve's melodic vocal.

With this new release it seems that Temtris are getting a lot more press and support, certainly in the UK. It's possible, then, that we may even see a live gig or two on this sceptered isle.

Originally posted by Craig Andrews on Femetalism.