Thursday, October 13, 2011

Root - The Temple in the Underworld

Genre: Unclassifiable (Epic Black/Doom Metal?)
Country: Czech Republic
Year: 1992
Label: Monitor

Another absolute favourite of mine, Root is a Czech band whose genre is nearly impossible to pin down in a concise fashion. At their inception, they were a first-wave black metal band, having formed in 1987. Accordingly, their early output had a kind of Venom/Celtic Frost/early Bathory vibe, but as time went on, their sound evolved into something utterly unique and entirely their own. This, their second proper full-length, is my favourite album from their diverse discography. As previously stated, it is really difficult to describe the music at hand. I suppose I'd pin it somewhere in some kind of epic black/doom/death metal realm, but that doesn't even begin to do it justice. It really just has to be experienced first-hand. Temple in the Underworld is definitely an album that you should set aside some close-listening time for, as there is a lot going on here and it's really worth giving it your undivided attention. The vocals of the mighty Big Boss are, as with most Root albums, the most immediately memorable part of the band's sound. He issues forth a clean, resonant tenor as well as strange, throaty growls and everything in between, and listening to his charismatic delivery is truly a treat. Nobody - and I mean nobody - sounds like Big Boss. The moment he starts singing, there is no question which band you're listening to. But I don't want my enthusiasm for his vocals to overshadow the absolutely killer music on display here. Guitarist Petr "Blackie" Hošek is a true artisan at his craft, imbuing the songs with spectacularly imaginative riffs and structures. (He has, unfortunately, departed from the band, and his absence is definitely apparent in the post-Blackie material.) The battery is handled by Evil, and his drumming displays an enormous amount of skill and creativity. There's always cool cymbal work or intricate fills going on, and it really keeps things interesting in the rhythm section. There is a deeply pervasive atmosphere to this album, lending the entire length a very mysterious, arcane feel. The reverb-drenched production actually has a surprisingly professional edge to it, but it is by no means 'over-produced' or plastic sounding - it's full and heavy without sacrificing the organic feel this kind of music demands. This is a top-notch album played by amazing musicians. Easily one of the coolest extreme metal recordings ever put to wax.