Label: Golden Antenna Records Release Date: 18/02/11 Website: Official Website Buy: Amazon I must confess, I hadn't heard of Tephra before. I', listening to their album now, while looking for some background information about them online, but there’s not much to help me frame this German band in any musical context. The homepage of their website is brown – as is the cover of their latest album Tempel, to be released by Golden Antenna Records on 18th February - which to me, doesn’t sound that appealing (and there isn’t even an ‘About’ section on it). Following the links I land on Myspace, and I realise with my surprise that they’re still very active on it! Not only them, but their community of ‘friends’ as well. Last.fm finally tells me who they are: a German metal band formed in 2003 that... This doesn’t sound very promising. My head immediately draws the picture of an outdated band still stuck in the Nineties when being goth was cool and you could see people wearing full length black leather coats and metal plate commando boots not only in Camden Town (I wanted one of those coats so badly back in the days, but my mum wouldn’t allow me to have one...). But I decide it’s time to overcome my wariness towards metal, so I put volume up and leave it to the music to do the talking. The album had been originally labelled to me as “ambient/experimental” and the quite fast-paced drumming of the intro of ‘Ghost’, in contrast with the slow progression of the distorted chords, makes me soon realise that this won’t be the psychedelic trip I expected. The snarls and shrieks of the singer make it difficult to understand the lyrics, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be happy to meet this chap when he’s angry. ‘Chains and Pounding Hooves’ is more fast-paced and somehow lighter, but painful to my ears. ‘Agra’ starts in an almost prog rock fashion, with fast beats and deep distant riffs that gets closer and closer halfway-through in a smashing crescendo of distorted notes. Overall this is an upbeat songs, less sinister than the previous but still very aggressive. ‘City Immersed in Dust’ is for me the most notable track on this album. Its hypnotic proggy mood actually takes me to outer space. The guitars and the drums complement each other in a harmonic crescendo of decibel and intensity (and eventually the singer doesn’t scream). ‘Seven Teeth’ goes back to the darker vibe of the album; it’s sinister but more upbeat and open than the previous ones. ‘Tempel’ is the track that better incorporates these two aspects of this band, the more prog one at the beginning and the louder, darker, sepulchral one, towards the end. Overall this was not what I expected, but not even the journey in the darkest experience I feared. The roughest peaks of the first songs are smoothed down by the more rocky tones of the second half, which to me make it quite a quite balanced album for the most hardcore metal fans and the middle-weight. Lovers of the genre would find it interesting, but to me the quite lengthy and repetitive structure of the songs, interrupted by howls and growls here and there makes it a quite monotonous listening. Photobucket