Archetypal mid-tempo death metal
Harry Potter is full of stories that have been told for generations, yet J.K. Rowling found a way to arrange them in a way that seems new and fresh. Dark Meditation’s debut album Polluted Temples does the same thing by combining elements from the classic rock, death metal and goth bands of decade’s past, but the resulting amalgamation is far from innovative or exciting. Every track on Polluted Temples conjures thoughts of, “Haven’t I heard this before?” but an answer never comes, creating a plague of anxiety. Then again, maybe that internal anguish is the dark meditation they were going for.
Dark Meditation was formed in 2017 in Seattle, WA. In addition to Will Klintberg on drums, percussion and backing vocals, Dark Meditation features the vocal stylings of frontman A.D. Vick, guitarist Rane, guitarist and synth player Ian and bassist JW Mullett. In an interview with Filthy Dogs of Metal, the band gave insight into the title of their 4-year catharsis project stating, “The title Polluted Temples represents the biblical concept of the body and mind being a living temple and how life in the modern world can be a challenge to remain true of heart and spirit.”
However, one would be hard-pressed to find this meaning hidden within Polluted Temples’ challenging lyrics. On the upside, the album’s artwork, designed Vick, is worthy of a Vinyl purchase based on visual aesthetic alone. Even their logo is expertly tormented as it features a set of chains flowing out of the eyes of an ill-fated skull.
The album opens with a cheesy twenty-six-second intro entitled “Horus Rising” that mimics the rise and fall of something ominous coming closer and then revving away. The momentum is extended by moving into quick, rumbling eight notes from the toms combined with continuous up and down strokes on the guitar on the track “BABALON.MONEY.MAGICK.” The intensity wants to be there so bad, but it falls short until the chorus, which incorporates a fun chant of “Hey Babylon…Die Babylon.” This track seems misplaced as it contains more glam metal overtones than the other tracks on the album. The song closes out with a few uses of the whammy bar and an electrifying glissando, which is honestly the true jewel of this track.
The second track “Haunt of Fear” can be commended for its stark chord progression that breaks the rules of Western music theory. Additionally, Klintberg’s menacing drum breaks stand out in a good way. If the cartoon Regular Show is looking for some background music, “Haunt of Fear” would be a great addition.
“Desolation Days” is a slower track reliant on alternating ride cymbal and open hi-hat to maintain interest. Single atmospheric notes stretched over the bar line during the chorus create a stream of consciousness thickness before returning to a similar mild-tempo state of affairs. With a title like “Desolation Days,” one could expect more than low impact dueling guitar solos. But then again, maybe the song’s longing and dragging could be where that meditation part comes in.
“Nocturnal Forever” is another track that can be skipped on the rotation as the low registered vocals are hard to hear and the scratchiness of Vick’s voice is chest tightening.
Outside of the unexplained spelling and grammatical errors, Polluted Temples brings little novelty to the table. Novelty aside, the songs on the album are well structured and the group plays well together, so kudos to them for pursuing their passion and doing their thing. Polluted Temples has laid solid groundwork, so here’s to hoping their future albums will be a bit bolder and more daring. And here’s to the listener’s attempt to figure out where they’ve heard it before.