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Root - "The Temple In The Underworld (reissue)" (CD)

Root - "The Temple In The Underworld (reissue)" CD cover image

"The Temple In The Underworld (reissue)" track listing:

1. Intro (1:38)
2. Casilda's Song (4:49)
3. The Temple in the Underworld (5:05)
4. Aposiopesis (5:07)
5. The Solitude (3:44)
6. Voices from... (1:28)
7. The Wall (7:56)
8. The Old Ones (4:53)
9. Message (4:30)
10. My Name... (5:25)
11. My Deep Mystery (4:56)
12. Freebee (1:10)
13. Poslové & Temnot (3:18)
14. My Name... (3:48)
15. The Old Ones (3:55)

Reviewed by on December 12, 2009

"The disc offers an eclectic, and at times truly bizarre, journey through metal that lacks any significant boundaries to hedge it into a constrictive label."

Metal has found a stronghold in nearly every country of the world, and sometimes the most interesting bands come from the least expected places. While Norway and Sweden tend to be the Mecca of metal, there are plenty of other places pumping out music begging to be heard. Enter Root from the Czech Republic, who were formulating their own brand of music before genres like black metal had even been fully defined yet. “The Temple of the Underworld” is a re-release of Root’s 1992 album, including several extra tracks and a live song. The disc offers an eclectic, and at times truly bizarre, journey through metal that lacks any significant boundaries to hedge it into a constrictive label.

Root has been cited as a black metal band, but that’s a misleading title at best. There are no blast beats or high pitched screeches to be found throughout the disc. “The Temple in the Underworld” is an album that evolves from track to track, rarely sticking to the same formula. The combination of sound effects, clean and harsh vocals, doom driven guitar sound, and overall black metal atmosphere lead to a genre definition that’s more accurately described as “dark metal,” if there’s a definition that even applies at all.

The disk isn’t quite a concept album, but each track seems to have a continuing theme tied to the album title. Opening song “Intro” starts with a rising gong noise, followed by a rainstorm. Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” plays in the background, giving an overall feel of descending into the underworld. When the guitars show up they tend to stick to simplistic and mid-paced riffs, with occasional forays into faster playing. The lack of technicality or speed isn’t a downside however, as the music Root is going for doesn’t need to be flashy to work. The songs are more about mood than precision.

Most of the vocals on the album are a deep chant that splinters off into shouts, yells, and growls as necessary. The frequently alternating vocals mimic the music itself, which changes significantly as the album progresses. While “Aposiopesis” sounds like a ‘90s hard rock ballad, albeit with heavier guitars and a darker atmosphere, “The Solitude” is a completely synth driven song. Songs like the title track and “The Wall” go for a heavier sound, using a variety of disorienting guitar work to keep up the underworld theme.

Some of the songs and segments come completely out of nowhere, and can be baffling on the first listen through. The ending of the title track shifts abruptly from harsh vocals and distorted guitars to the sound of an old toy box being cranked and then played. “Freebee” is another that comes out of left field without warning. The track starts off with sound effects that would fit into an 8-bit video game before a wall of furious drum beats slams into the listener. The old school 8-bit sounds are then mixed with the drums and random bouts of insane laughter and unintelligible vocals. Depending on how much experimentation the listener is willing to put up with the song could come off as an insane drug trip worth taking many times, or it could be the one that gets skipped on every go around.

“The Temple In The Underworld” has a wide array of elements that would probably be described as progressive metal if the album had come out today instead of the early ‘90s. The overall doom sound and lack of black metal screams gives the album a potentially wide audience, although not everyone may enjoy the bizarre interludes.

Highs: Epic doom sound, black metal atmosphere, lots of interesting sound changes.

Lows: Some of the experimentation is more baffling than intriguing.

Bottom line: An eclectic and occasionally off-the-wall album with a heavy doom vibe and some good old fashioned black metal atmosphere.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)