As any visit to most of the rock-themed bars across the region will attest, the hard rock nexus between Finland and Sweden is the only place on earth the LA Glam Rock (not ‘Hair Metal’!) scene never died. ‘80’s hard rock standards from Rough Cutt to Skid Row happily blare out of rock pub jukeboxes – drowning out slurred convos between androgynous looking metalheads (or just, Nordic people) and hot blondes – as if it’s still 1986 and we’re all still livin’ on a prayer (but beware, “Dude(s) Look Like A Lady” a lot up there!). Yes, the black et. al. metal crowd usually have their own haunts but that’s not necessarily a contradiction in terms, as Children Of Bodom can corroborate.
A number of the most important genre bands in recent memory hail from the region – such as fellow Finns Santa Cruz, Swedes H.E.A.T., and, most notably, Crashdïet – and have made their mark internationally by sounding as good as, or better, than the bands they emulate. Now, the improbably named Temple Balls (look it up!) are set to do the same with their third outing, Pyromide.
Such seems to be the declaration of intent of all-guns-blazing album opener “Thunder From The North”, with vocalist Arde Teronen immediately sounding reminiscent of Steelheart’s Miljenko Matijevic. Follow-up “Long Ways, Long Lies” then adopts the recent Santa Cruz strategy of dressing up good single-material – (love-) pumping cheese in a heavily synthesised but simultaneously modern metallic sound – with a deliciously catchy chorus and hook done the old-school way.
“T.O.T.C.” throws in more synthesisers but is fundamentally standard fare that recalls Firehouse, Warrant or the late ‘80’s LA variation of ‘Cock Rock’, while “Fallen Youth”, with its tried and trusted ‘80’s lyrical theme, sounds like Tyketto crossed with Dokken (though today’s streamer youth is almost certainly even more fallen).
Things continue apace in the album’s second act with the testosterone-fuelled “Bad Bad Bad” and “What Is Dead Never Dies”, with its gang vocal and nifty leads, while “Unholy Night” reveals more local influences such as early Europe and Hanoi Rocks. However, the anthemic “Heart Of A Warrior” features the kind of expected driving pulse you’d immediately associate with a cross between Manowar-type ‘Hero Metal’ and Def Leppard….and is probably the most fun and engaging track on the album.
The album closes out with obligatory ballad “If Only I Could” (as the penultimate track, of course!), with its bittersweet if a bit too early 1990 vibe (ergo, just prior to ‘The Apocalypse’, or the ‘nirvana’ of corporate-backed musical incompetence, to which this is still an excellent riposte in 2021). “Something To Die For” is an apt conclusion and summary of Pyromide, underwritten by enticing guitar harmonics and a chorus that encapsulates the spirit of the album as a whole.
Produced by Temple Balls mentor H.E.A.T.’s Jona Lee and featuring the to-be-expected scintillating performances from guitarists Jiri Paavonahoh and Niko Vuorela, Pyromide is exactly what is inferred on the cover. An album so thoroughly soaked in the inspiration of their idols is bound to be questionable on lyrical content, high on musicianship and quasi-perfect in production. It’s every cliché in the book, and that’s a great thing – there’s something purifying (normal? sexy?) in the water up North. Have some Balls, and head back to the sonic Temple.
8/10 for effort. 9/10 for competence.
Temple Balls’s Pyromide was released on April 16th, 2021 via Frontiers Music