Album Title: Khaos Divine
Label: Wormholedeath Records
Date of Release: 17 March 2023
This review has been a long time coming, but I am finally bringing you my considered thoughts about the latest instalment from the Temtris camp, ‘Khaos Divine’. Those of you who are familiar with my website may remember that I reviewed their last album, ‘Ritual Warfare’ a couple of years ago, and I was rather enamoured with it. It meant that I had to return for album number seven from the Australian heavy metal unit.
Things don’t get off to the best start though, as the band have fallen foul of one of my pet peeves – words deliberately spelled incorrectly. Alongside the proliferation of the word ‘super’ in front of everything these days and the frustrations with those that are incapable of using the ‘ly’ suffix at the end of a word, deliberate misspelling is right up there. Yes, I’m an increasingly grumpy old man, I admit it. As such, ‘Khaos Divine’ irks slightly.
Breathe, Matt. Count to ten. Let it go.
Happily, though, this is one of the rare instances where this review will delve into negativity on my part because, similarly to ‘Ritual Warfare’ before it, ‘Khaos Divine’ is a more than solid record, full of quality and passion. In fact, ‘passion’ is the one thing above all else that comes through on the album; these guys live and breathe heavy metal and it shows. I get the feeling that no amount of effort has been spared in the pursuit of creating the music that they love.
From the opening instrumental salvo, ‘The Grand Design’ to closing composition, ‘Ground Zero’, Temtris take us on a journey through a ‘dark dystopian city controlled by a new world order’, all to a rousing and compelling soundtrack that fuses classic heavy metal, NWOBHM, power metal and thrash. As with previous albums, and unlike the storyline to ‘Khaos Divine’, there is precious little that’s revolutionary about their musical offering – they stick with what they like and what they do best. And on this album, once again, you’ll get no complaints from me whatsoever.
Without a doubt, the not-so-secret Temtris weapon is their vocalist powerhouse, Genevieve Rodda. The lady is a force of nature and leads from the front like a modern-day Boudica, Queen of the Iceni tribe, and a local legend around these parts of East Anglia. But unlike Boudica, it’s entirely possible that Rodda could have defeated the Romans with one blast of her voice. Fortunately for Rodda, though, she is joined by a strong army in the form of guitarists Anthony Fox and Nadi Norouzian, drummer Nicholas Bolin, and bassist Vane Danov. Together, they seek to energise, entertain, and inspire the listener with their infectious and gratifying brand of heavy metal.
It’s fair to say that the entire album is a bit of a grower, to the point that I had to take my time over writing this review to ensure I gave it the time it needed to make its full impact with me. And this is no more evident than with the title track itself. Starting out as an ‘ok’ track, it has weaselled its way into my affections to the point where the up-tempo rhythms, sharp riffing, and infectious chorus all combine to powerful effect. Genevieve Rodda leaves absolutely nothing in reserve as she hits some ridiculous notes throughout the thunderous composition that lays down a marker for the remainder of the album.
The great thing with ‘Khaos Divine’ is that it is a really well conceived collection of nine tracks, where there’s very little time wasted, and where the quality throughout remains of a consistently high level. ‘Eternal Death Machine’ is brilliant in the way that it plays around effortlessly with changes in tempo, from a blistering opening, to slower, verses that dial up the atmosphere. The chorus is a beauty, very Maiden-esque to these ears in certain ways, perhaps most notably in Rodda’s vocal delivery, but also in the way that I could easily hear the chorus sweep across the summer festival fields. The twin guitar harmonies and subsequent lead breaks don’t harm the track’s impact either, making it easily one of my favourite tracks on the album, if not of Temtris’ career.
The guitar work at the beginning of ‘Dreams Or Reality’ is marvellous, whilst the sheer pace gives it a speed/power metal vibe that I really like. The drumming is sharp and muscular, driving the song along by the scruff of its neck in merciless manner. The guitar work at points reminds me a little of early Machine Head, whilst the more melodic interjection at the half-way mark is brilliant, leading into another full-on lead guitar solo. By this point, what I hope is becoming apparent, is the way that Temtris are not afraid to mix things up between and within songs, meaning that they maintain my attention and longevity when it might otherwise not be the case. The other point that needs to be made here, is the pervading darkness of the material overall, conveying the gravity of their concept admirably in the process.
If thrash is more your thing, then look no further than ‘The Lies Become The Truth’, and the opening riff. It might not be a fast-paced song, but there’s a brooding thrash feel that then dissipates as yet another strong, sing-along chorus takes over. And then we get ‘The Path’, which pushes the title track very close, if not beating it slightly. The intro is quiet, introspective, and full of strong atmosphere, where the rumbling bass of Danov comes to the fore massively. Again Rodda is intent on pushing her lungs to breaking point, but never misses a note, as the track builds steadily, only to unleash some of the strongest melodies within a sprawling chorus that gets better and better with every passing spin. The ubiquitous lead guitar breaks emerge in the latter stages, whilst I also love the brief double-pedal drum embellishments, as well as the clever ebb and flow that builds a sense of drama to the whole song. Yup, I think this might actually be the best song on the album, after all.
The lyrics within ‘Revenge’ are full of anger and vitriol, perfectly accompanying some of the most striking riffs on the album, not to mention a really solid headbanging groove that can’t fail to make an impact upon the listener. ‘Evolution Of Hate’ comes out of the speakers like a stabbed rat, blending classic metal with a touch or two of neo-classical guitar work and a good dollop of thrash, whilst also dropping one of the most infectious choruses on an album full of great choruses.
Album closer, ‘Ground Zero’ is a true song of two halves. The first half is a beautiful piano-led, cinematic, and atmosphere-laden affair, summing up the dystopian backdrop to the album perfectly. The second half, or two-thirds, to be accurate, is pure thrash attack, albeit with a slightly classic metal tinge thanks to the dual guitar harmonies and melodic leads that nevertheless wail and gnash with real spite.
To be honest, there’s not a bad song to be heard, there’s not a false step taken, or a momentary lapse anywhere on ‘Khaos Divine’. I started out by thinking that a couple of the songs felt needlessly long or ponderous, but I vehemently disagree with my earlier self now. The album is well paced, superbly executed, and carries with it that ‘x’ factor that I mentioned at the start: Temtris believe in what they are playing. There’s no cynicism here, no playing to the crowds, or phoning it in for the big pay-off. Instead, we are faced with five musicians that will almost certainly bleed for their art and their shared love of heavy metal. I love that about Temtris, and originality be damned, that’s what I also love about ‘Khaos Divine’.
The Score of Much Metal: 91%