Exclusive interview – Temple of Void: ”The gamble paid off”

Soundtracks to terrifying tales.


You drink your coffee black. You enjoy a horror flick once in a while, and you listen to Temple of Void. Well, that goes for me at least. Bara Metal wanted to know more about the band’s album Lords of Death that definitely will be on this year’s album of the year-list. Guitarist Alex Awn answered the questions.

Your album is called Lords of Death – are you the Lords of death? If not – then who? 

– I think if you look at the album title and think about it you can build your own narrative in your mind. Hopefully the vision and the music is evocative and gets your mind going to unlock some realms of fantasy and horror. Are we the Lords of Death? To me, yes. Are there other Lords of Death? Definitely. Are our fans the Lords of Death marching along side us? Absolutely. So take it however you’d like. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to the listener. And I think other guys in the band may even have a different answer.

Every riff in each song goes hand in hand with the next one on this album. You’ve glued it together perfectly and smoothly. How did you do it?

– Patience. And never settling for anything less than our best. You can be the fastest or most technical or most whatever, but if your songs don’t flow and they’re not memorable then you’re simply going to be boring and forgettable. None of us are wizards on our instruments, but it’s not about the utmost technical competency. We write the kind of metal we want to listen to. It’s the kind of shit that you headbang to and pound your steering wheel along to the drums when you’re driving. We strive to write memorable tracks that stick in your brain. Bands like Death or Deicide or Bolt Thrower or Entombed for instance, they all have verses, bridges and choruses. It doesn’t stop them from being heavy as fuck. You don’t have to compromise intensity and heaviness for the sake of writing catchy songs. The best bands know how to fuse it all together.

So, how does a song progress within the band?

– As far as song-writing… The guitarists, Don and I, will write riffs and bring them to practice, then we’ll arrange songs as a whole band. No one ever writes a complete song by themselves. It’s always a collaboration between Brent, Jason, Mike, Don and me. Five heads are better than one for us. Each person has their own unique ideas and no one’s afraid to speak up and try new things. So Don and I will hash out a couple of riffs and everyone comes together to turn it into Temple of Void.

I think most people consider you a death/doom metal-band, and maybe especially since you started this band with a Paradise Lost influence. Do you make sure that there is a doomy feeling to your death metal, or do you make sure there is a death metal vibe to your doom?

– On Of Terror and the Supernatural we made sure there was some death in our doom, but on Lords of Death we turned that equation around. We made sure to put some doom in our death. I think the most successful bands are the ones that often have an identity and a goal from the start and stick to it. We intend to stay death doom, but how much death and how much doom may vary from time to time. The pendulum might swing in favor of one or the other, and then back again. I think it’s important for us to stay focused on the genre as a whole, though. We won’t get sidetracked. Temple of Void is death doom.

I read that you don’t want to play your slower songs live – is this true? How come? 

– That’s true. That goes back to the whole death vs doom question. We found that in live settings we favored playing the more up-tempo and physically intense songs. They simply carried more energy on stage. So if you’ve got a choice between some lumbering track with huge open chords or something closer to Asphyx, then we’ll typically side with the Asphyx-esque track. It’s just more engaging and fun for both us and the crowd. I still love everything on Of Terror and the Supernatural, but what sounds great on record doesn’t always translate live. You live and learn. And you adapt.

Around 03:30 into A Watery Interment there is a spinning guitar chaos, quite effective – how much do you plan these instrumental bonus details? And what do they deliver to the song?

– Recording an album is a chance to do things you don’t always get to do in a live situation. We can spend the time to add extra layers of guitar or ambience or synths or whatever we want to add to the vibe of the music. Sometimes we have premeditated ideas before we go in. Other times we just make things up on the spot when we feel inspired. We had my friend, Omar, play synths on two or three tracks on both albums. They’re never overpowering. Just the kind of thing that you subtly pick up to add tension to the mood. It’s very ambient. We’re not writing In the Nightside Eclipse or anything. I like writing and recording the kind of albums that you can continually pick up little details the more you dig into them. You listen on headphones and hear things you didn’t hear before, for instance. It keeps things layered and interesting.

– Omar used an analog synth on the first album that had this ring modulator effect. It was actually an accident but we loved it and kept it. That prompted me to buy a ring modulator guitar pedal so I could approximate it live. So on Lords of Death I actually used the ring modulator pedal for the specific point of chaos that you reference here. It’s interesting how doing spontaneous things in the studio can affect you later on.

What more details in your songs can you mention for us to discover?

– We used a couple of Tibetan singing bowls for the intro to Graven Desires. Brent’s wife, Amy, played them. I picked one up in Thailand at a monastery and never expected to  play it on an album, but these are the kinds of things that happen!

Googling Aswang, from the lyrics to The Hidden Fiend, I found several movies – is that how most of your lyrics come about, from horror movies?

– Mike gets inspired by literature, film, and his own morbid mind. His whole concept is to make each song stand alone like a short story. We approach the albums like horror or fantasy paperback anthologies. The music is a soundtrack to a uniquely grotesque or terrifying tale.

You are from Detroit right? Do you consider yourself a local band, a national band with the US as your audience, or an international band ready to tour Europe and other contintents? Please put this question in time comparison, before your debut album and today.

– Our music has been released on multiple labels around the globe and we have people ordering from us from the Middle East, Europe, India, Japan and so on. So on that level we’re certainly international. But given that we haven’t played outside of the United States – I’ll leave that up to message boards to argue about whether that negates “international status.” We are planning on a brief European tour in the summer of 2018 with some good friends. We’ll know more this winter when we start logistical planning.

– Also, as far as a timeline, our demo was released in the Ukraine and in Poland. Then the first album came out on a German label. So to us we were international from day one pretty much. I think our European following was stronger at the beginning and then things started to pick up steam in the US later on.

How did you discuss the clean vocals within the band, knowing that a lot of death metal fans consider clean vocals quite unorthodox?

– We’ve wanted some clean vocals since the beginning. As you know, Paradise Lost is a huge influence on us and we’re not afraid to throw in some clean vocals from time to time. Mike belted out these classic doom vocals and we were really excited to hear them in the studio. That track, Graven Desires, seems to be everyone’s favorite track on the album. So the gamble paid off.

Your last album had quite a Hammer Movie-feeling to the album art on the cover. This one is still there, but more medieval/zombie war. How much time do you spend on getting the right image to your covers? And how many ideas do you discard before you are there?

– I don’t think you can take any of this lightly. This is your album. Your art. You don’t get a second chance, so you need to make sure it’s fucking awesome. When we started out we didn’t have a budget from our label so everything was coming out of our own pockets. Brent picked up this book by a renowned fantasy artist named Bruce Pennington. He brought it to practice and we fell in love with his style and thought it would be amazing to license some of his artwork. So we hunted him down online and got in contact with him through one of his friends. The piece really fit our style and garnered us a lot of attention, to be honest.

– For the second album we had enough money to commission an original piece. Paolo Girardi has become very popular as of late and we really gravitated towards his bizarre, tripped out, almost psychedelic horrific style. He’s like a Renaissance Master on a bad trip. But in working with him you don’t get a first or second chance…you just get what he paints. He doesn’t sketch. You give him a ballpark concept, he takes his shirt off, listens to some heavy metal, and paints. Thankfully he’s got a great track record of some amazing work. So it all worked out for us.

Where did you find your name? And do you know that the greek black metal band Ravencult has a song from 2016 called Temple of the void?

– I didn’t know that about Ravencult. I’ve heard them and actually really dug what I heard. It was like early Watain before they got carried away. Anyhow, given that we’ve been around since 2013, what can ya do? We’re actually on the same label, too. Hells Headbangers Records co-released our new album with Shadow Kingdom Records, and Ravencult is on Hells Headbangers as well.

– The origin of the name goes back to Eric [Blanchard, former guitarist] actually. He was reading the Watchmen and there was a line about the void winds or the winds of the void or something like that. I think maybe Doc Manhattan was doing some metaphysical contemplation about the universe. I don’t recall the context. Anyway, he liked that phrase and we kicked around some ideas. We were trying my friend out for vocals at the time because this was before we actually solidified our line-up with Mike, and my friend turned void winds into Temple of Void. We knew we wanted a name that was open to interpretation. We didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves with a very specific and evocative name. We preferred something that was more ambiguous, cryptic and sinister. Temple of Void was born. I think in truth we’ve all got our own meanings behind the name. And I’d encourage the listeners and fans to arrive at their own conclusions, too. The music, the name, the art – it should all come together in your brain like a Lovecraftian tale of death, terror, and the supernatural.


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