For lovers of doom metal and heavy psych, Philadelphia undoubtedly has one of the richest scenes in the country, having given rise to nationally and internationally recognized acts like Stinking Liz, Serpent Throne, Crypt Sermon, Ecstatic Vision, and Ruby the Hatchet. Founded in 2012, Heavy Temple did not rocket to the top of the scene. Although band leader High Priestess Nighthawk’s talent and vision were immediately apparent to anyone who saw the band in those early days, it took nine years to hone their craft, five lineup changes, and countless live performances to get Heavy Temple where they are today. And where is that? Signed to Magnetic Eye Records and ready not only to be added to the list of the greatest doom and psychedelic bands that the rich Philadelphia scene has ever produced but–on the strength of their first full-length LP, Lupi Amoris–ready to make a serious case that they may be the best of the bunch.
Lupi Amoris is a must listen to release for any fans of heavy, psychedelic music. Like all great psychedelic doom albums, Lupi Amoris is loaded front to back with awesome riffs. Like the angular intro riff on album opener “A Dessert,” a few of them have a more modern, stoner rock feel. But most of the riffs fall into the classic, crushingly heavy, Black Sabbath-worship bucket.
Obviously, Sabbath worship is well-trodden territory, but Heavy Temple does a lot to keep the sound exciting and engaging. The riffs themselves, while hitting all of the stylistic points that lovers of the genre want, feel fresh with an incredible sense of movement. And around the core of killer riffs, the band weaves a ton of other influences, classic and modern. Keeping things psychedelic are layers of synthesizers and effects-laden guitar parts (both lead and textural). And weaving it all together are High Priestess Nighthawk’s powerful, deep vocals.
But more important than any of these individual elements is how Lupi Amoris brings them together with incredible songwriting and arranging. So many bands in the stoner and doom scenes lay claim to their music being psychedelic either solely based on the fact that they play in those genres or because they use tons of echo, delay, and other effects. But to make truly great psychedelic music, the band has to write and arrange psychedelic songs, a much more difficult task. Heavy Temple has mastered this rare skill. And a handful of deftly executed tempo changes ensure that things never stay too slow for too long.
Although the whole album is great, the standout track is the lead single, “The Maiden.” Starting with a great, tension-building intro that masterfully uses open, empty compositional space, the song explodes into a killer 12/8 chop, propelled forward by Nighthawk’s bass playing and drummer Baron Lycan. The driving rhythm provides the perfect tableau for Nighthawk’s wailing vocals and killer riffing and soloing from guitarist Lord Paisley. After a brilliant crescendo with layered, dueling guitar solos, the song slams into a slow, heavy doom outro. Brilliant stuff that feels both classic and innovative at the same time.
This writer unconditionally recommends Lupi Amoris to any lover of heavy, psychedelic music. Check it out now!