TEMPLES ON MARS – a name inspired by advanced ancient hieroglyphs that were allegedly created with the assistance of extra terrestrial entities, who also supposedly were responsible for the construction of temples on the surface of Mars. This concept has been translated audibly in first track Bon Voyage, with futuristic atmospherics, space-age commentary and an enticing, yet simple motif repeated throughout the song. We are being led on a journey and TEMPLES OF MARS are our pilots on our prog rock odyssey.
The second track Gods & Kings bursts in with stratospheric radio-friendly riffs. Frontman James Donaldson croons along, yet when the chorus kicks in you could be forgiven for including him with the otherworldly entities the song title suggests. An absolute cracker of an opener, our progressive troupe from London are already threatening to break the mould and launch themselves to be their own colossal entity.
TEMPLES ON MARS continue their massive sound with the delightful Afraid Of Living and its hypnotic riff. Blending loud and proud guitars with catchy melodies, the band run the risk of becoming dangerously addictive. The same can be said for next track and lead single, So In Love With Your Drug. It’s a catchy beast that’s more radio friendly than prog rock, with the cheesy key change at the end of the song, but a highly memorable tune all the same.
When I listen to this album I occasionally think I’m listening to a band from Australia, as their prog drenched rock reminds me of bands such as THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, DEAD LETTER CIRCUS and even KARNIVOOL. Fifth track, How Far Will You Go demonstrates a darker side of TEMPLES ON MARS that is reminiscent of the more brooding songs by the bands just mentioned. I think How Far Will You Go is a little gem on this self titled record; it has quite a cold ambience compared to the catchiness of previous songs, making it an edgy yet rewarding listen. Don’t worry though, the big riffs and catchy lyrics return in leaps and bounds on Death In The Afternoon.
There is something nostalgic about Make No Bones, in fact there is a sense of familiarity which runs through the whole album. TEMPLES ON MARS have already achieved THAT sound which hopefully means this album could end up becoming a timeless classic later down the line. With this song however, it does make me think of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT again and even DORP (remember them?) and just that general warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you listen to a good song.
The beginning of Black Mirror is a curious one. With its beautiful, proggy intro, it is soon accompanied by a heavy and chuggy riff which sounds more metalcore than anything. Donaldson’s vocals soon provide some light to this darkness. It is a very interesting song as these elements continue to battle it out for the duration of the song. Suicide Tiger also becomes a curious listen; with its mesmerising and brooding first half. As it starts to gain momentum I hear echoes of CAESAR’S ROME and Back To Oblivion-era FINCH. TEMPLES ON MARS somehow manage to nail a slow-burning song as well as an up-tempo rock hit.
When I review an album I like to give it a couple of listens to digest it before I can form an opinion on it. This morning I woke up with When Gods Collide in my head, so that is a very good sign that this album had ‘clicked’ with me. And who can blame me with the ridiculously charming melodies and catchy chorus. If this doesn’t become one of the hits of the album then I’ll despair. Definitely more on the ARCANE ROOTS end of things, this song has ‘winner’ stamped all over it. Next track Dining With The Devil doesn’t quite match up to its predecessor but it is still one hell of an impressive track. Its ambitious length (8 minutes) and its proggy interludes maintain your interest through its diversity of styles and unpredictability, oh and of course its MUSE-esque breaks.
After such a fun journey through prog and rock, TEMPLES ON MARS needed a suitable finale to terminate the voyage…and it doesn’t disappoint. With more samples like the first track, it comes full circle; almost like the first and last tracks are bookends for the record, containing the prog-rock package within. It will be interesting what TEMPLES ON MARS pull out of the bag for album number two. Will they go more prog or more rock? We’ll have to wait and see but no doubt, like their namesake, it will be out of this world.