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Dark Circus
Artist: Templar
Label: Youngside Records
Length: 11 tracks / 44:22

The brainchild of Paradoxx frontman Ralph Dix, Australia's Templar is a tremendous fusion of gothic, industrial, metal - and occasionally some good old fashioned rock & roll.  The title track utilizes twisted circus sounds to successfully unsettle the listener before the high-octane, charging riffage kicks in.  Make no mistake, Dark Circus is one heavy album... one which delivers more than a few surprises. When not rasping, growling or screeching, the vocalist's singing voice is disarmingly similar to the late Kurt Cobain's (albeit with a gothic bent).  The majority of the guitar solos are standard fare for this kind of music, excellently performed and technically proficient; meanwhile, the stand-out "Fatalism" delivers a melodic solo akin to one of Slash's old Guns 'n' Roses leads.  "House is Burning" is reminiscent of a Metallica-style ballad, and quite powerful.  Outside of those, Dark Circus comes across like the mutant hybrid of Rob Zombie and Iron Maiden.  While the group wears its influences on its sleeve, Templar is greater than the sum of its parts thanks to tight performances, diverse album dynamics, and creative use of sound clips and samples to create tension, mood and atmosphere.

Thematically, Dark Circus is about "governments, secret societies and religion giving us the show of our lives."  As faith-based heavy acts are wont to be, especially in the underground metal scene, Templar is right in your face with their opinions and beliefs.  While "Fatalism" (a creative stab at abortion) and "House is Burning" (a treatise on pride's ability to destroy) are top-notch efforts, other tracks are decidely... out there.  Dipping into the conspiracy theorist's grab-bag, Templar decry international banking, aspartame, the Catholic Church (and its supposed role in the coming of the anti- christ out of Europe) and... well, you get the idea.  It's eye- rolling at best, the stuff of bad end-times movies and cheap thrillers.  Fortunately, the fantastic vocal delivery makes it possible to completely ignore the more laughable content.

Templar have a killer album on their hands with Dark Circus.  Just remember, kids - ASPARTAME KILLS.  

Ryan Ro [ |

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