I sometimes struggle to get a review started because I feel I need some kind of opening hook to draw the reader in: a little foreplay before we get to the hardcore reviewing action, be it a personal anecdote, or a general statement about metal that somehow relates to the album in question. Or some such bullshit. I do this in the hope that my review will not only be informative, but a little entertaining as well. But I’ve got nothing for Magister Templi’s Into Duat, and it really doesn’t need anything, because it’s a great heavy metal album for the simple reasons I’m about to tell you right now. Maybe we can cuddle afterwards.
There’s no big secret to Into Duat’s success: it has strong beats, great riffs and some powerhouse vocals, courtesy of one Abraxas d’Ruckus. Into Duat is a concept album of sorts, based on Egyptian mythology, but I won’t hold that against it.
To my shame, I am only passingly familiar with Magister Templi’s first album, Lucifer Leviathan Logos, but the impression I get is that Into Duat, while differing lyrically, is musically very much in the same vein as its predecessor. It sounds more polished, however. Mature and “bigger”, as in “this is a big-time record.”
Magister Templi has roots in doom metal, and they still show throughout Into Duat, particularly within opener “Creation”, which begins with a “Gothic Stone”/“Well of Souls” vibe. And Mr. d’Ruckus, though his voice bears little resemblance to Messiah Marcolin in tone or style, does sing with comparable power and theatricality. On the whole, though, Into Duat is a lively, hard-driving and hard-hitting affair, owing much more to traditional metal, NWOBHM, and speed metal than it does doom.
Track two, “Lord of the Morning”, really brings the higher velocity influences fore. With all this Egyptian business and so much prime riffing, it’s hard not to think of a cursed pharaoh or two, so the track has a Mercyful Fate vibe, particularly with the sinster “Doomed by the Living Dead” double-stops in the mid-section, along with the band’s smooth & nimble riff transitions.
If I had to sell you on this album with one song, however, “Horus the Avenger” would be the choice, as it represents everything great and glorious about heavy metal. The riffs gallop and chug; the bass drums rumble in your chest; the melodies writhe like cobras; the chorus soars like all those other choruses you read about; and if all that wasn’t enough, the band throws in an interlude that’s fast as a god-damned shark, if you catch my drift.
It’s difficult to find a weak spot in Magister Templi’s game. Abraxas d’Ruckus’s vocal style might not be to everyone’s taste, but the fact that he has a legend-level set of pipes is not up for debate. Some might wish for a bigger lead guitar presence, but it’s tough to complain when the solos and melodies delivered are so tastefully done. The Egyptian theme is also handled well, in that the band uses exotic scales sparingly – enough to impart some atmosphere, but not so much as to become overly distracting. Finally, it is much appreciated by this particular writer that Magister Templi keeps it heavy. Into Duat is not an extreme metal record, and the band is not out to bowl anyone over with sheer brutality, but it is nonetheless impressive how well the band works in melody and some of the other subtler aspects of its music without every really having to go soft.
In summation, Into Duat is a fucking triumph that’s highly recommended to people who like heavy metal.