Death metal is stereotyped as a one-trick pony, but many bands in the genre break the mold in thoughtful ways. In the Midwest, they include Michigan’s Death-Doom outfit, Temple of Void. Formed in 2013 by veterans of Detroit’s metal and hardcore scenes, the five-piece band have won awards for their gritty and ingenious albums. In 2020, The world that was earned them third place on Kerrang’s list of the “50 Greatest Death Metal Bands of the Moment”. But with their new fourth album, Summon the killer (their debut for Relapse), they blew even their previous best out of the water. Hot on the heels of the diabolical opener “Behind the Eye,” “Deathtouch” delivers some of the most compelling gothic doom I’ve heard from any band not called Paradise Lost, which actually one of my favorite songs in any genre so far. This year. It’s the longest track on the album at just over eight minutes, but its majestic atmospheres, provocative twists and melodic flourishes will have you playing it again and again like a little radio jam. “Engulfed” offers a searing sequel; its macabre journey drags its prey kicking and screaming into a hellish abyss, but then the song changes direction, eventually embarking on an epic journey through starry skies and into the great beyond. On the record’s second half, “Hex, Curse, & Conjuration” bursts with death metal grime, while “The Transcending Horror” borrows cues from celestial posthardcore and alternative rock. And lest you think the party has played all the cards in hand, Summon the killer ends with “Dissolution,” a dreamy acoustic guitar flip-flop that’s more likely to summon fairies and elves than demons. With such masterful musical shapeshifters at the helm, no territory is off the map.
Void Temple Summon the killer is available through Bandcamp.