Temple Of The Diagonal – Deviations

 Temple Of The Diagonal – Deviations

Temple Of The Diagonal – Deviations – Album Review

Now here we go…this is the kind of ominous beginning to a record that incites intrigue for sure!  Listening to “Opening The Eye” start up the debut album by Temple Of The Diagonal brought me back to the time I randomly downloaded some spoken-word Aleister Crowley record from decades ago.  What a trip that was – and what a trip this seems to be as well.  Huge drums on “Opening The Eye,” menacing vibes all around, and fairly philosophical, thought-provoking content at the core of it all.  “Opening The Eye” serves as a solid intro into Deviations, but also plays like a mantra of its own as well.  Definitely a unique start that should easily provoke your curiosity and have you wondering what else this album will possess over the course of its lineup of twelve cuts…listen to the smart way they’ve used the vocals inside this track will ya?  It might take some folks years to figure out what’s actually being said, but that’s alright…music with mysterious vibes shouldn’t necessarily be easily unraveled anyhow.  We’re supposed to enjoy the work that comes along with listening at times…it’s a great way to enhance your experience.

“House Of The Slanted” is designed to go for the jugular much more quickly.  Whereas “Opening The Eye” makes glorious use of space and atmosphere, “House Of The Slanted” instead opts for the furious peppering of drum beats and a more noticeably scathing approach to the vocals.  It’s good…the hardest of the hardcore and the underground Metal fans out there will dig what they find here – it’s kind of like an enormous update on the vibes that Danzig had been pursuing years ago…though arguably finding a more powerful & potent way of delivering that sound to your face-holes.  I’m interested by the layers of effects on the vocals, but also by the lyricism when it comes right down to it too.  Usually when you’re listening to music with GIANT vocals or heavy effects on a voice, screaming or ranting & such, the lyrics tend to take a massive backseat to the rest because they’re so often indecipherable, but the clarity that you wanna hear actually exists here on “House Of The Slanted” – so credit to the mix on this record as well.  It’s proof you can still be hard AF and larger than life without having to distort everything over the red-line in the process…”House Of The Slanted” actually reveals noticeable professionalism and control.

We don’t need you to understand,” they wail on “Outside The Circle” – and that’s probably a good thing, because most people won’t.  I don’t think I need to be the guy to tell Temple Of The Diagonal that they’re making music that’s not only “Outside The Circle” but well outside the norm too.  The masses ain’t built for this kind of stuff…that’s the reality, but they know that.  There’s so much more accessibility than you’d probably assume though, so credit where credit is due.  The music in this band seriously pounds…and I feel like the largest degree of their acceptance probably comes through that point in their material.  As for the vocals, don’t get me wrong…I’m familiar with one of the main dudes behind the music in this project, and this is the closest I’ve heard him to being palatable for the average set of ears out there that I’ve ever found him to be so far.  That being said, it’s still miles away from what the average everyday listener would just flip on the radio to find, or even discover on whatever Spotify lists they’re tuning into…Temple Of The Diagonal is here to do things differently, and anytime you’re in that realm, it works both for and against you.  I keep coming back to the very start of “Outside The Circle” though…the opening of this track is ENORMOUS, and it pulls me in to listen every single time like I don’t even have any choice in the matter.  Vocally, there are varying degrees of accessibility to be found along the way, but let’s be real here – there are tangible hooks, and they are indeed memorable.

Quills and Jupiter, the two names now associated with Temple Of The Diagonal, have been preparing for this moment of Deviations for quite some time.  I received an early cut of “Pilgrim” back in August last year, and when I say early, that’s exactly what I mean…they were rippin’ along so fast that the sound file I had was loaded up with unintended spikes & all kinds of audible bullshit that was hindering the music – but I’m happy to report that’s all been fixed now.  It is a LARGE song at nearly nine & a half-minutes in length, but they’ve definitely made it hard to be bored with its multi-dimensional twists and turns along the way.  You have to look at a track like “Pilgrim” and acknowledge the progressive presence that exists in writing like this…there’s simply so much goin’ on and the demands being made on their musicianship are extremely complex.  As with all things progressively-based though, Metal or Industrial or otherwise, chances are you’ll find some stuff you love and some stuff you don’t nearly love as much – it’s very hard to rock for nearly ten minutes and have people come out feeling otherwise, myself included.  “Pilgrim” has some fierce and beastly moments that are all-out epic, and some spots where I still feel like they could choose to bend in a more accessible direction that wouldn’t compromise who they are, yet would potentially expand the range of people out there that would be able to hang with a tune like this.  When it comes right down to it, I’m just happy to listen to anything without sound spikes involved – so thumbs up to them fixing what needed to be fixed to render this version ready for the album.  If you wanna read more of my original thoughts on “Pilgrim,” you’re more than welcome to – click here to read the review.

Like, don’t get me wrong – vocally, I don’t have any issues with screaming or snarling at me when things are on the mark tonally…and that’s where I still think there are opportunities for the man behind the mic to tighten things up.  I listen to a track like “Pestilentia” & can instantly hear that’s way more in-line in that regard than the last couple of cuts have been…and to me, that makes a difference.  It really all depends on what their own goals are though…if they’re making music to intentionally push people away or frighten the fuck outta them, then they don’t ever need accessibility or their tone to be on-point.  If they want to give their music the opportunity to be heard, then performances you’ll hear on tracks like “Pestilentia” will certainly play to their advantage.  For me, where things got like…way the fuck on outta control was in the drums of this particular cut – do we really NEED all them beats?  Is that what this song is REALLY calling out for?  I’ll fully admit, they had be entirely onboard as it began with its spoken-word intro…and I was hanging on throughout the first verse…heck, I even survived the original storming of the skins that occurs through the second minute, but as we pass that point and we’ve got so much of the drums competing with the space when the vocals show up…I dunno y’all…I’m just not convinced that’s the right approach I suppose.  When the vocals finish the verse, THAT is when they choose to add more space?  What heckin’ gives?  Why spend so much time on the lyrics and put the effort in there if you’re gonna continually bury that part of the songs under rapid-fire drums to the point where most people wouldn’t be able to hear it?  More to the point…when there’s so much else that’s going RIGHT in this song, I think you gotta take extra care that there isn’t a piece or part that drifts too far from the goal – and I feel like “Pestilentia” became a perfect example of doing a bit too much at the wrong time.  There are pieces of this song that would have easily had this cut in the top three best on the record in my opinion, but it seemed like they took this one a step too far and overpowered a lot of their best content in favor of a flurry of drumbeats instead.  It’s an odd trade considering everything else is so interesting.

“Hooks And Fingers” probably gets a bit too close to the sound of something like Disturbed for my comfort…at least at points.  Temple Of The Diagonal is still a lot more experimental and on the fringe than something like Disturbed would ever be, and especially now.  Anyhow.  I feel like the music has remained the most continually engaging element, and the vocals tend to make things a hell of a lot more challenging.  Like…I’ll be real with ya – if Temple Of The Diagonal was an instrumental band, I’d probably be first in line to listen, every time they put out an album.  That’s not me saying the vocals trash things up – I’m not saying that at all – just saying that they’re not really my thing is all.  If they’re your thing, then fantastic, turn it the fuck on up, loud and proud!  I have many moments in listening to their music where they drift into being my thing at times…but it’s usually not too long before they tend to drift on out again.  You take what you like with what you love, what you dig and what you don’t, just like you would with any band – even the ones at the top of your playlists.  “Hooks And Fingers” was a challenging track…more-so than the majority of the material on this record, with the exception of the breakdown perhaps, but that doesn’t last long.  Lyrically, they’ve been damn exceptional throughout the course of Deviations.  There are varying degrees of what you will and won’t be able to make out in what they’re saying, but even just to read their words on paper is real treat…they’ve got some great stuff goin’ on here, and ultimately, whether you or I like everything or not is so far beside the point.  Are they achieving what THEY have set out to do with their music?  That’s the only thing that ever really matters.

They keep on teasing me with these amazing & insightful spoken-word beginnings to their songs…I just want things to stay that way every time!  But I’m a spoken-word junkie…that’s usually where I’m at.  I think one of the best concepts they’ve been working with on this album, highlighted directly on “Upgrade” is how we’ve ended up in this bizarre space where we’re trying to figure out how to fuse our organic nature with technology…and call it progress.  Is it?  Are we GETTING BETTER?  Bigger?  Faster?  Stronger?  Or are we become death, destroyer of worlds?  Look…tracks like “Upgrade” are fucking HARD to listen to in many ways, whether it’s the frightening aspects of the concept at its core, or the seething and gnarled sound that continually threatens to melt your speakers where they stand – you feel uneasy when you listen to tracks like this, but that’s by design.  It serves a purpose…and I’m usually more than okay with that when that’s the case – that’s ART, and I respect that.  Was a track that deals with “a fucking mushroom cloud of napalm” supposed to sound like sunshine and rainbows?  Fuck no, of course it ain’t!  So hellz yeah, I can appreciate WHY a song like “Upgrade” sounds as brutalizing, cold, and mechanical as it does – that’s all intentional.  And it works!  Right down to the end of everything disintegrating in our speakers like its being pulled apart molecule by molecule by radioactive isotopes.  Whether it damages their street-cred or not, I don’t care, I’m just gonna say it – there’s a lot of poetry in what they write; the effort they put into their words genuinely shows, and highlights their authenticity.

I will say this…and let me be clear – I ain’t hating on the vocals at all times – there are lots of moments I dig on, I just think there’s still more opportunity to refine them.  What I DO absolutely love about what we hear from the microphone, regardless of whether or not it seems like a pass or fail to you, me, or your momma – is that the CONFIDENCE is there, every single time.  Temple Of The Diagonal clearly have a lot of faith in their ideas, concepts, and material overall, which allows them the opportunity to go after every single track like they’re playing their last one ever.  They give everything they’ve got to each song, and at the end of the day, that gives every cut in their catalog the potential to find a home in someone’s head.  Like for example, at the beginning of “Without A Beak,” they actually remind me a lot of Kevin McMahon’s band called Prick from back in the early nineties – I fucking LOVE the self-titled record from that project, and the last thing I’d ever accuse it of being, is perfect.  There were so many points that could have been adjusted this way or that way to make it even stronger than it was, and more often than not, it was usually something in the vocals.  Did that stop me from loving the record?  Fuck no!  I listen to tracks like “Without A Beak” and the TERRIFYING concept at the center of it…the insightful words that come along with it…and YES – the vocals that fit almost every inch of this particular song, and feel quite sure that Temple Of The Diagonal are completely capable of finding their way out there in the scene.  As to WHERE they CHOOSE to fit into it, that will of course be up to them…but they’ve got all the right pieces to find success by their own definition.  “Without A Beak” is a deadly & badass tune…and whether we want to admit it or not, frighteningly prescient.  It’s definitely one of the album’s strongest.

Which, consequently, makes the next spot on this record one of the toughest to fill.  I don’t know if I felt like “Dark Matter” was doin’ it for me.  Maybe the last thirty seconds of its amped-up finale…I could get behind that for sure.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a quality issue – I still felt like Temple Of The Diagonal brought their best to what you hear on “Dark Matter,” I guess I just didn’t feel like the material itself was as strong as what we’ve already been exposed to earlier on in the lineup, or that it did anything too differently from what we’ve heard so far.  As always, that could just be my take on it…you might feel totally the opposite, and if ya do, no worries, I still love you just as much as I probably did(n’t) before.  Anyhow.  Albums are tricky things y’all.  The longer they go, the harder it can be to establish something unique from what we’ve already found in the lineup earlier on.  “Dark Matter” is still a decent tune in their catalog that’s entirely cohesive to the sound their going for and the vision they have for the music they wanna make.  Does it stand out as much as it should in this set-list?  Not really, no…but that’s more of a testament to the efforts that they’ve put into this lineup along the way than it is a comment on them not hitting the mark, know what I mean?  There are ups and downs in the dynamics of any record.

“Event Horizon” – good lord that takes me back.  I think that was one of the ‘new releases’ only months after I got my first job working behind the counter at a local video store here in Canada in 1997.  Well…I say first job, but I had other jobs prior to that I guess.  My video store job was the first one that I got on my own merit and skills.  Years and years later, here we are – it’s still the only thing I was ever actually qualified to do on a professional level.  Amazing.  Depressing.  All of these things and more.  Moving on.  “Event Horizon” goes by quickly, and aside from a bit of scattered spoken word & ominous vocal sounds in the melody, this is basically an instrumental cut and a stellar example of why I was saying I’d totally want to hear a record from Temple Of The Diagonal with just a series of odd samples and their music on its own.  I get it, I get it…wishful thinking and it’s not what they really do…you can’t really ask for something to be something it’s not…but I’m tellin’ ya, if they felt so inclined to go in that direction, I’m confident that a few of the main obstacles and barriers would be removed between them and a larger audience.  Plus they could end up scoring a shit ton of soundtracks, maybe even an “Event Horizon” reboot one day!  Wouldn’t that just be life coming around full circle, dear readers, dear friends?  Just think about all that untapped potential and where it could possibly take them!  Like I said…I get it – and just because it’s one of the more appealing tunes to me on this album doesn’t mean that they should up and switch their whole style, sound, vision, and approach to appease my own personal taste.  Or any of you for that matter.  There’s no pleasing everyone all of the time anyway – so you do you, and I’ll do me.

After the low-key and mysterious vibes of “Event Horizon,” I’ll admit, I was completely prepared for them to BLAST OUR FACES with a full load of hot Metal straight in our face, but they give us about fifty-seconds to collect our thoughts before the pounding starts.  Benevolent kings, they most certainly are.  “Cause all I see is an orgy of pigs and monkeys/fingering, snickering, shooting, snorting/willfully poisoning/suicidal species” – YUP!  Forever and ever, amen.  And by forever I mean like, what, another decade at the max?  “Prepare for planetary cremation,” as Temple Of The Diagonal will tell ya…and day by day, with each passing new war or crack found in our divisions, it sure seems like that’s coming our way soon if we don’t get our shit together right quick.  While I’d love to say I’ve got some faith in that happening…I mean…it just ain’t been our strong suit.  This works though…I’d be stoked about the way that “Bones Of Adam” came out if I was Quills and Jupiter…it sounds like this song is written from the perspective of an omnipotent being that’s far superior to us, and the vocals reflect that otherworldly point of view.  I’m fairly confident that “Bones Of Adam” would reflect how we’d be viewed from another society of beings from afar…we’re here fucking around with shit that doesn’t matter in the valley of malls and far too busy arguing with ourselves to do anything meaningful with the time we have.  Ahhhhh, how the joys of existence = the perils of ignorance.  Obviously “Bones Of Adam” ain’t gonna be a track everyone out there will run to the dance-floor for, but hopefully they’ll hear something that resonates within the message Temple Of The Diagonal is beaming out before we end up in the Human Zoo or the planet is melted while we’re still trying to charge our iphones, so we can TikTok one last time.

It has been quite the ride listening to this record, no doubt about that.  I have no idea if I know Quills or Jupiter by the names they’re now going by…I only know that I know one of’em by a different name and through other projects I’ve listened to in the past, and compared to what I’ve listened to in their catalog, this is the best I’ve heard to-date – so that’s a huge positive!  Definitely a step in the right direction from start to finish if you ask me.  They end with an instrumental cut – their title-track – which will reveal a couple samples of spoken-word in the mix for ya…voices that sound like they are indeed melting in the hot molten burning that is no doubt coming for us all.  Anyhow.  Are they ending on a strong track?  What have I been tellin’ ya throughout this whole review about instrumental/spoken-word combinations and how well that would suit them – have you even been paying attention bro?  I love creativity like this…”Deviations” sounds like the audio equivalent of a found footage movie – and of course I’m here for that!  It actually reminds me a lot of the odd soundscapes we experience in the music of K-ORA at the end here…which is another bizarre musical entity I’ve been digging on lately this year too.  “Deviations” is a solid ending to what’s actually been a wildly entertaining concept record, and a great start to Temple Of The Diagonal perverting your speakers with its hideous sound forevermore.  For real – it’s a hard-hitting debut that displays an extreme level of confidence in every performance, and I’d be willing to bet that if you’re not too scared to give it a chance, you’ll find something you dig in its set-list and likely be seriously surprised by that.  You never know unless you try right?  So push play!

Find out more about Temple Of The Diagonal from their official Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61552865030575

You won’t actually READ this message, but imagine a world where you did!  You’d know you could be the next up on our pages at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!



"I’m passionate about what I do, and just as passionate about what YOU do. Together, we can get your music into the hands of the people that should have it. Let’s create something incredible."

Send this to a friend