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Temple of Baphomet – Testament of the Heretic Priest

Temple of Baphomet is one of two currently active solo projects from Lord Nathaz Occul-nin Beezanborgh, a musician whom has had a great while to dwell within the Danish black metal underground as he’s been at it since 1997, though it appears little headway has been made in regards to sharing his vision to this point.  While his other project, Diabolicum Mystica, focuses on the melodic side of dark ambient, this project is heavily devoted to the glory that is Satanic black metal.  He was also once one-half of the short-lived Rex Satanachia whom had only one release, a 2008 EP on Grom Records entitled “First Legion of Hell”.  Describing his project as “one of the very few serious satanic bands left (in Denmark)”, Beezanborgh’s intentions and dedication to the left hand path are blatantly apparent.  That said, there is a bit of a theatrical flavor to the work of ToB, though that doesn’t necessarily take away from the sincerity of the release.  This is certainly black metal in devotion to Satan, but it has been created with a healthy dose of melodrama both in its use of synth and wordy track titles.

The noted synth is the first thing that will grace your speakers as it somewhat playfully carries a melody that will reappear later into what is undeniably the foundation of the album:  raw melodic black metal that has been created in every way for the tape medium.  This is a sound utilized by the likes of Marduk and Gorgoroth where haunting guitar melodies meet head-on with powerful blasting percussion.  This, combined with a well-executed performance, are where the album reaches its highest level, especially in “In the Eerie Glow of a Bloodstained Candle” where all of these elements combine with a surprisingly heavy, bombastic moment.  There is, unfortunately, a lot wrong with this album too though.  The production levels have the keyboards and the vocals coming out so far in front of the guitar and percussion that it leaves the tracks sounding overwhelmingly amateur, and it brings the theatrical side of the music out in full force.  One of the most important elements of Temple of Baphomet is his interest in the ritualistic.  Combined with the in-your-face keyboard elements, it makes the ritualistic portions impossible to take seriously — a problem that early projects like Black Funeral also shared.

There really are some incredible moments in this tape though.  “The Glorious Hymn of Diabolical Forthcoming” contains clean vocal elements that are strikingly similar to the work that Lord Serpent expels in Ceremonial Castings.  This is also where the harsh vocal performance finally takes flight with emotionally charged screams and old-school depressive groans taking the foreground, replacing the uninspired and largely apathetic performance from the opening few tracks.  His keyboard structures also get more solid as the tape wears on, showcasing his talent in full view with the opener of Side B, “A Journey into Self (Mindtravelling)”, though he still rarely ventures far away from easily constructed melodies.

Despite its downfalls, “Testament of the Heretic Priest” holds onto a unique vision in that it also seems to bring a meditative side to Temple of Baphomet.  There’s a very pronounced appreciation of self and what can be seen from the eye within in this release — an approach that is usually followed deeply in the opposite manner through the suicidal cuttings of projects like Abyssic Hate and Antaeus.  In this way, Beezanborgh severs the all-too-familiar suicidal ties that currently exist in great quantity in the genre and instead seeks to pull back his mortal veils and find the ancient beast within himself.  It remains to be seen whether these gestures are sincere or whether they are a product of this recording alone, but it certainly offers a genuine glance into a spirit that is otherwise clouded by dark theatrics.

Track List:

A1) My Legacy of Unlawful Necromancy
A2) The Birth of a Blasphomethean Theocracy
A3) In the Eerie Glow of a Bloodstained Candle
A4) The Glorious Hymn of Diabolical Forthcoming
A5) Monolithic Gateway to a Spectral Past
A6) Sacreligious Funeral Rites
B1) A Journey into Self (Mindtravelling)
B2) The Vortex Eye of the Ram-head Overlord
B3) Beyond the Surface of Life
B4) A Primitive Hymn (To a Lord Below)
B5) To Walk the Invisible Path (Midnatsvandring)
B6) Bloodmass Incantations to the Baphomet
B7) Trapped in the Triangle of Torture

Rating: 3/5
Written by: Sage
Label:  Satanic Deathcult Productions (Denmark) / Darkness Shade Records (UK) / DSR-EVIL-XIII / Tape
Black Metal