Rage and FrustrationExtreme Music Reviews & Interviews
Temple of Void – Lords of Death (Review and Interview)
Band – Temple of Void
Album – Lords of Death
Country of Origin – USA
Genre – Death Doom
Release Date – July 28th, 2017
Label – Shadow Kingdom Records
Author – Hayduke X
Question: What happens when you take five musicians who have spent decades working in the extreme metal underground in the depths of Detroit and put them together to ferment? Answer: You get Temple of Void, now on their sophomore full length and third overall release. Lords of death is a massive release that fully avoids the sophomore slump. These mavens of extreme metal manage to create a sound more embedded in death metal than their prior release, more powerful, and more ominous. This is death metal played in the darkest recesses of a post-apocalyptic doom soundscape.
On to the concoction! First, to create a pummeling, creeping, glacial base of corruption, we have Brent Satterly on bass and Jason Pearce on drums. That earthquake rumble shaking your house? That’s thanks to these guys. Up next is the dual down-tuned hell provided by Alex Awn and Eric Blanchard. The fact that Eric also produces haunting melodic leads to leaven the mix at various points takes nothing away from the power of the duo. Rather the dynamics serve to highlight the strength of the guitars. Finally, sprinkle Mike Erdody’s cavernous vocals on top of the mix and you have the recipe which Temple of Void use to take you through the world of nightmares.
An aspect of this album which strikes me more deeply with each listen is how rooted Lords of Death is. It’s as if Temple of Void spawn forth from the very bowels of the earth, an avenging demon sent to destroy failed humanity. The rest of the metal world needs to look out. Something is rising in Detroit.
Recommendation: Come on, metal mitten, support your Detroit brethren!
Hayduke X: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Lords of Death. You guys have a couple of songs streaming already, which are both pretty massive, in a good way. What kind of reception are you getting?
Mike Erdody: Right now, it seems like the album has gotten – as far as coming out of the gate. It hasn’t even been fully released yet, but there’s a lot more press coverage on it, than we had with Of Terror and the Supernatural. It’s kind of to be expected as it’s the sophomore release, where as the first one, you’re kind of a no-name band. Kind of just coming out, and things move a little more gradually. For this one, it seems like it’s been really positive reviews right out of the gate.
HX: Yeah, right on. I’ve seen a lot of good buzz about it and I really like the album myself. So, that’s great for you guys. Do you have any big tour plans in support of the album?
ME: In support of the album, nothing really planned yet. We move a little slowly. We’re all kind of guys with careers. We’re trying to get some sort of planning. We’d like to do at least some sort of touring for the album. Right now our main focus is one the release show, which is going to be the first week of September. That’s the one we were talking about with Mike Bradley. He’s the one, from Centenary. They’re going to be playing it, as well as this band Tombstalker from Kentucky. They’re going to be coming up to play. It should be a good time.
HX: Good deal. And that’s down in the Detroit area somewhere?
ME: Yeah, it’ll be at, I believe, Small’s in Hamtramck.
HX: Right. I know I’ve seen the online flyer for it. I just couldn’t remember where that was going to be. Any chance we’ll get you guys up here in Grand Rapids?
ME: Yeah, if you can get us in contact with some bookers or anybody that can get us an in on a good venue, yeah, we’d like to make it out that way. It’s all just expanding that radius of influence that you have. Just reaching out a little bit further each time.
HX: Perfect. We’ll have to see if we can put you in touch with somebody after the interview. In the meantime, can you describe a live Temple of Void show for me?
ME: Loud! Very, very loud. Alex and Don – Alex especially has some pretty top notch gear. They like to play loud and keep it as heavy and decimating as possible. I’ve got to push myself in order to keep up with the volume. Then, Jason our drummer is probably the heaviest hitting drummer of any band I’ve played with. I mean he absolutely beats them. It’s definitely really loud. Definitely really heavy. We like to add a little finesse to it and give it kind of a cool aesthetic. We usually bring foggers. It’s not out of the question to incorporate a little bit of lights and things like that. Something to incorporate a good, dark atmosphere.
HX: Do you have a favorite track? Not necessarily off of this album, though it could be. Or, even just a favorite one to play live?
ME: My favorite song off of the first one was Rot in Solitude. I kind of felt like that was the one that encapsulated the band and was the best off of that record. Off of the new one, my favorite song is actually The Gift, which is one of the ones that we premiered. I think it’s kind of the most pummeling death metal song that we have. I really like the closing track called Deceiver in the Shadows. That’s really cool. Eric, the guitar player on that record did a lot of really cool, melancholy lead work on it. It’s pretty cool. Those would be probably my two favorite tracks.
HX: This is your sophomore full length, and I think you had a demo out before that. Can you just run through, real quick, the history of the band? Also, I’m kind of interested in hearing, at least some of you are involved in a bunch of other bands. Why did you feel the need to add another band. I know you’re in several. Nuke as well, correct?
HX: And then, I think I saw that Alex is in Hellmouth.
ME: Yeah, he’s in Hellmouth as well.
HX: Those were two that stood out to me, because I’m a fan of both of those bands. I haven’t caught Nuke yet, but I’ve caught Hellmouth a couple of times. Why another band?
ME: Well, we started in 2012. I was actually the last person to join the band. I guess they had tried out a couple of other vocalists prior to that. They gave me a call, just on a whim, because I kind of knew Eric, the one guitar player. We had known each other from shows and things like that. My band Failed had played with his band Knifed before. He just hit me up to see if I’d be interested in doing vocals. I’d never really done death metal vocals or anything like that before. Me, being the weirdo that I am, I always like throwing myself out of my comfort zone. I was like, ‘Why not. I’ll give it a try.’ At the time – we were talking about other bands and things like that… One of the main bands I do is a band called Acid Witch. I do guitar in Acid Witch. Acid Witch wasn’t really doing much at the time. The one band Failed wasn’t really doing much at the time. It was kind of a lull. I hadn’t really started jamming with Nuke yet. I actually was doing Temple of Void before Nuke. It was just kind of one of those things where I was like, ‘Hey, let’s try it. Let’s see how it goes.’ They were fun. They were relaxed. They were willing to work around me having such a busy schedule with other bands and things like that. We’ve been able to make it work so far without too much conflict or too much issue. I like the guys. We’re all good friends. We’ll keep it going as long as we can and have fun doing it. Right now, it’s been working so far. We’re going to keep doing it for the foreseeable future.
HX: Right on. I hope it keeps going for awhile.
ME: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Me too! As far as bands, Alex does Hellmouth. He’s been doing Hellmouth for years. That was the project – I’d seen Alex play. I didn’t really know Alex prior to Temple of Void. I had seen Hellmouth from random shows playing around in Michigan. As far as me, I was doing Acid Witch at the time and then the band failed, which is kind of like a metallic noise rock…hard to describe, but think Godflesh and Old Lady Drivers mixed with Jesus Lizard and weird Amphetamine Reptile stuff. I don’t know. It’s one of those things where you’re either going to get it or you’re not going to get it. So, we were doing that, and I was doing the Acid Witch thing. Temple of Void kind of came along and then I ended up jamming with the Nuke guys, because came in saying they needed a lead player. It was fun and those are guys I’ve known for ten years. I started jamming with them and now I play lead guitar in Nuke. It’s just, you know, busy, busy, busy these days.
HX: All of that in addition to a career.
ME: Yeah. And I do lots of one off gigs too. I have a Judas Priest tribute band I do with some friends of mine. I was in the band Harbinger and Borrowed Time. We do, like 70’s Priest, and we’ll do a show every once in awhile. I do a cover band with some kids that were students at my school called Dark Avenger. It was pretty cool. It was kind of a way to get those guys – and now they’re all grown up. They’re in their twenties and they’ve got their own band called Pandemonium now. It was pretty cool. The guys from my band, we sort of filled out the opening spots. We would do covers and do, like, Metallica, Judas Priest, and, you know, Saxon, and we’d do Riot and a bunch of stuff like that. It was pretty fun. That’s about the extent of me playing in bands.
HX: Tell me about the band’s songwriting process.
ME: I would say that before, Alex and Eric were kind of the main contributors of the song writing stuff. They would work together to hash out the riffs. It’s kind of translated the same way now that Don’s in the band. Don is more of a traditional death metal guitar player too. Whereas Eric came more from the crustier punk scene. He was in a band called .Nema prior to that, and a band called Kathode that had Andrew W.K., like a very, very young Andrew W.K. in it. So, he kind of came more from the punk and the sludge-y, doom-y part. Don is like a total death metal guitar player. He came from the band Writhing, who are a pretty decent death metal band from here for a few years. Right now, it’s just been them. They’ll hash out the riffing. They’ll present the riffs and then, they’ll kind of get arranged as a band. Usually once we all kind of arrange it as a band, I’ll take the finished product. I’ll sit with it. I’ll listen to it and I’ll brainstorm on it. That’s where the lyrics will begin. I’ll kind of think, ‘What mood does the song set? What kind of aesthetic? Where does it build from there?’ I try to shape songs to be individual stories. I’ve never been much of a lyric writer. This is kind of a – once again, with all the bands I do, I think there’s something I take in from each band. It allows me to do something I may not be able to do in other projects. Temple of Void is good for me, because it allows me to work on being a lyricist. My approach is, ‘We’re a death metal band. What can we do with it?’ There’s a lot of different lyrical themes you can take with death metal. Mostly they’re all centered around death, gore, things like that. I wasn’t really looking for overly gory. I wasn’t really looking for anything super socio-political. The way the band sounds to me,…I like it to sound more arcane or like old Lovecraft. You know, old 70’s horror anthologies, old ghost stories. Things like that. Stuff that has more of a creepy vibe, rather than being overly gory or just bludgeoning you with saturated violence and things like that. It’s a cool avenue for me to work. It leaves the door open for a lot of lyrical possibilities. So, when we take the songs, the all kind of come…I sit down with them and try to figure out what we’ve got. Every time it comes out different. Sometimes I’ll base it off of a movie I’m watching at the time. Sometimes I’ll base it off of some sort of idea that I’ve had, if I can just work it in there. Some sort of idea for a story or something down the line.
HX: How about the recording process on this one?
ME: Well, we recorded Mount Doom Studio, which is in Warren, Michigan, with our friend Clyde Wilson. He was the guy that actually recorded the bulk of Of Terror and the Supernatural. We did it at his studio, a different studio. He had it as a home studio then. Now he’s actually built a legit studio over there on the east side. We did the drums on Of Terror and the Supernatural somewhere else, and we did most of the guitars and things like that there. This time, we did everything with him. He did all the recording. He did the mixing. He did the mastering. We just sent it off packaged and good to go to the label. It was a really cool recording process. He’s got a really nice set-up in there. He’s really good with getting tones. Every recording I hear out of there, it just gets better and better. I’m glad that we got such a good product. At this point, we’ll never stray. As long as he’s still doing recordings, we’ll keep going to him for future albums to come.
HX: Yeah, I’ve heard that name, Mount Doom, in a few other places as well. I think it’s kind of becoming a thing in Michigan to record there.
ME: Well, I will definitely say,… I’ll give him a plug. I think he does a fantastic job and I feel his prices are incredibly reasonable for the quality of work that you get. The end result is very, very good. I have nothing but positive accolades for him.
HX: So, this is coming out on Shadow Kingdom. How did you guys connect with that label?
ME: Actually, they approached us. We cut the demo back in 2013 and that kind of spawned some interest. It’s all just kind of been a snowball effect from there. We put Of Terror and the Supernatural out originally on a label called Rain Without End. It went from there. They just pressed a limited number of copies. It was gone. It sold out. Then Shadow Kingdom contacted us about picking it up. So, technically, the Shadow Kingdom issue of that is a reprint. They re-pressed it on CD and cassette. Then, we signed a deal with them for future albums. Now this is going to be the first official release that Shadow Kingdom has had for us. We’ve got a lot more push marketing wise for it. Because it’s the sophomore release, you get a little more out of the gate, like we were saying. Tim, who runs Shadow Kingdom, just kind of contacted us as a fan of the band. At the time, we were on a label, you know it was a good label, but they only pressed a limited amount of copies. Keeping up with that snowball effect, it was just kind of the next logical decision for us. They’re a good label. They’ve got good underground credibility. They’ve got connections to Hells Headbangers, which is the label I’m on with Acid Witch and Nuke. There’s sort of a camaraderie that’s happening right there. It’s all very grassroots. Everybody is very approachable. You can email the guys directly. You’re not working through middle men or anything like that. It’s a good working relationship. Yeah, he just approached us as a fan of the band, and we were like, ‘Yeah. Why not?’ It’s a good home for us.
HX: Good. That’s good to hear. Can you talk about the gear used to create the Temple of Void sound?
ME: I know Eric used his JMP. He had a vintage Marshall JMP. I can’t tell you what year. I know Alex has two heads that he used. I think he tracked on with the other. They’d be probably more able to tell you about the technical side of it. Alex has – I’m trying to think, the model Orange – he’s got an Orange head and he’s got a Mesa Dual Rectifier. So, he used that for the guitars. I know Brent – I’m trying to think what Brent used for the bass tracking. Brent used his – he’s got an Orange head. He’s got a Tiny Terror for his Orange. Jason’s got a vintage Ludwig kit, I believe, that he recorded on. As far as me, I just did vocals. I’ve got the easy job in the band. I didn’t have to lug any gear. That’s about essentially it.
HX: Does everybody pretty much play with the same set-up live?
HX: What can you tell me about the album cover? Who’s the artist? How involved were you guys in getting that designed?
ME: Well, in order to get to that, I’ll probably go back a little further. When we did Of Terror and the Supernatural, we actually licensed an existing piece. We licensed it from a super renowned fantasy artist, Bruce Pennington. He does a lot of fantasy and sci-fi stuff. That was actually a painting he did for a Lovecraft anthology. People really, really liked the artwork. It’s one of the things that we always saw in the reviews. So when it came around for Lords of Death, we were like, ‘Ok. We want something original. Not something that we licensed.’ I mean, he was very gracious to license it to us. This time we wanted something that was ours. Only ours. That started from there. It’s like, ‘Ok. Where do we go from here? What artist do we want?” We were looking through… Paolo Girardi is probably one of the most widely used artists in heavy metal now. I mean, he’s a fantastic painter. We went through a couple of different options. We kind of weighed who we wanted. But, Paolo was kind of the guy at the top of our list, because his paintings are very reminiscent of…like the color schemes and things like that. That sort of orange-ish, like sepia, sort of. It reminds me a lot of Rembrandt and a lot of classical paintings of that era. I think that would cater well to the aesthetic of the band and the brand of death doom that we play. I think it has a little more of a refined feel to it, versus being overly brutal or overly sick and morbid, if you catch my drift on that. He was the natural selection on that. We contacted him. He was really receptive. He actually told us that he was familiar with the band and really liked our first album. so, we kind of knew that it was going to be a good thing. As far as the subject matter of the artwork, we presented him, at the time, with the lyrics we had and told him some of the themes that we had, to give him some ideas to go off of. He works in solitude. You don’t really know what he’s going to give you. You just give him an idea of what you want and he goes with it. We didn’t really get any preliminary sketches. We didn’t get any sort of samples. It was like, “Hey, I’m almost done. Here’s the picture of it. You’re going to like it.” And it was cool. We looked at it and were like, “This is good. It’s perfect.” We knew that we had the right guy.
HX: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a great fit. A great album cover. What can you tell me about the Detroit metal scene? What’s it like these days?
ME: It really depends on who you ask. I think it’s a very small, kind of incestuous scene. There are a lot of us that do multiple bands, like we’ve said. Alex does Hellmouth. Don, before that, was in a bunch of bands. Jason does multiple bands. Jason our drummer, he’s also in a band called The Highborn with a guy from The Meatmen and also Chuck Burns, who was in the band seduce. He’s got that going. They’ve got their own scene. I’m doing all these other projects. I’ve got four to five regularly gigging bands right now. I’ve had bands prior to that. We’ve all done shows. It’s a very small scene, I would say, in Detroit. The people that make the core of the bands that seem to be getting recognition now is about maybe thirty people or so. We all do multiple things. We all collaborate in multiple projects. It’s a cool thing. To be perfectly honest, I think Michigan, and the Detroit scene in particular, is probably the best heavy metal coming out in the US right now. I see a lot of accolades coming to the Detroit scene from online and things like that. I can’t be the only one thinking it. I’m really proud to be from Detroit. I’m really proud to be making music alongside people like this. I think that we have a really good thing. I really want to continue to do this as long as I can. I really hope that we can continue to do it. Like I said, I’m really proud to be from Detroit. I think there’s a lot of really cool, diverse stuff happening here. I think it’s stuff that’s being made with integrity. I think it’s stuff that is really making a mark out there. I hope to look back one day and be able to say that I was a part of something that became something much bigger than just us jamming in a basement or us writing or us releasing stuff. It’s all about creating art and putting art out there into the universe. Things that will be remembered throughout time.
HX: Of course, here at MoshPitNation, we cover everybody from all over the world, but our main focus is, and always has been, and always will be Michigan metal. We buy everything you just said, really. There really is a lot of good music coming out of Michigan.
ME: Well, we appreciate it. It’s all a vital part of the whole thing. You have the people that create it. You have the people that find it and promote it. It’s all its own growing, organic thing.
HX: Are you guys starting on new music already or do you kind of wait and let this sit a little bit first?
ME: Oh, yeah. We’re definitely starting on new stuff. As soon as Don joined the ranks, it’s just been an influx of riffs and ideas and collaborating. It’s like, every band is kind of it’s own organic thing, like we were talking about with the Detroit scene. A band in itself is its own organism. It has its own chemical thing. These certain people interacting in this certain way. It’s a very unique kind of magic that comes from that. Having Don as a new guy in the band brings an influx of ideas and an influx of inspiration. We’ve been working on songs. There’s a ton of stuff already in the works. I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before you hear even more new material coming.
HX: Excellent! How’s it sounding? How does Don kind of change the mix?
ME: It’s still kind of treading the territory of more death metal stuff. I think that there’s going to be a little more – with Lords of Death, the pendulum is swinging more on the death side of things. I feel like this one’s going to be more of a mix of the two albums, the material that we have now. It’ll still have the death doom stuff from the original one. It’ll still have more of the intricate death metal riffing. But I think it’ll have a lot more emphasis on dark melodicism. A little bit more of that early My Dying Bride, early Paradise Lost. like that kind of stuff in there as well. That has always been an influence, but I think now I’m anticipating it to be a little bit more recognizable and a little more prominent.
HX: Final question. What else should we know about Temple of Void? This is your chance to shamelessly promote yourself.
ME: Well, what did we used to say in the promos. ‘Temple of Void controls worlds and destroys them.’ Honestly, it’s death metal done with as much integrity as we can. Everybody in the band is really driven. Alex is probably one of the most professional musicians I’ve ever played with. I’ve learned a lot from him as far as being a musician myself. Jason and Brent are two of the most solid people that I can have and call friends. Don has been such a fantastic addition. He’s already, off the bat, become such a great contributor. I’m very, very honored to be in a band with these guys. I think that the band is incredibly heavy. I think that the band is incredibly catchy. I’m really glad to see the positive response that we’ve had with the album. Ultimately, we’d be nothing without the people that buy and listen to it. I’m thankful for the responses that we get. I hope that we can continue to do this and move onward and upward. I hope for nothing but good things. I hope for nothing but continued music. I hope for continued support from everybody. Continued support from people like you that want to reach out and delve into who we are and why we make the music that we do.
HX: Right on. Thank you very much for your time.
ME: Yeah, no problem. Thank you.