The Lost Art Of Twilight is the second album from Belgrade, Serbia based Temple Of The Smoke, the follow-up to their 2011 debut, Against Human Race. That album was a powerhouse set of heavy space rock (my favorite being the blistering Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator), psychedelic reggae, stoner rock, and mellow psych rock.
Kingdom Of Apples opens the set and is a meditative, melodic, yet steadily rocking space rock tune. I like the cavernous, valium-like guitar licks, and the music gets increasingly intense at the end. Moth Of Time begins similarly but at an even more mellow, drifting pace, and includes whispery vocals. Then around the two minute mark the band start to rock out, before quickly returning to the opening theme. And then… BAM!… they lay into a metallic stoner dirge, before abruptly shifting gears again, this time launching into an almost prog-like pattern, before returning once again to the stoner metal. Then for the finale they go into a wild and wooly freeform freakout. Wow, this is a pretty schizophrenic tune. I’m intrigued, but not sure if all the manic shifting of gears really works.
Starfall is a short piece, at only two minutes. But it’s a real smack across the chops, being a hellfire prog-infused hard rock blast that’s tight as a knot and makes its case succinctly in such a compact span. Out, Into The Crimson Night! is an inspired space-prog instrumental with heavenly keys and some thematic bits that bring to mind 70s sci-fi television themes. Later in the track the band start to rock harder, with a prog flavored 70s hard rock feel. This is my favorite track of the set so far. Street Of Shifting Signs is next and opens with multi-layered freaky alien electronics, and then launches into a steady space rocking segment that’s like a combination of Ozric Tentacles and early Korai Orom, but with an added classic prog rock edge. Later the music transitions to spaced out Dub/Reggae, that deftly switches back to the earlier theme, bringing the track to a close. Another smoker! Lots of variety but it all flows and gels nicely.
Beyond The Wall Of Sleep starts off as a drifting chill-out spacey piece that rocks harder as the music progresses. There’s some cool wah’d psych guitar, 60s styled organ, and proggy keys that makes for an interesting combination. I like it but it’s another track that keeps shifting gears while struggling to make the transitions seamless. Temple Of The Smoke (the song title named after the band) is the final track, kicking off with a dark and doomey yet deep space introductory segment. The bass and drums create a sense of foreboding, surrounded by wailing and bubbling alien synths. Then the guitar starts a slow emotional solo which gives the music a more spaced out psychedelic tone, and I dig the efx’d robotic vocals. Overall this track is about creating mood, atmosphere, and varying levels of tension, and the band get downright space metallic in the final minute. This is a fine example of Temple Of The Smoke covering a variety of thematic ground that flows and holds together well.
I listened to both Temple Of The Smoke albums back-to-back several times in the weeks leading up to writing this review and taken together I think this is a very promising and talented band on the contemporary space rock scene. Both albums feature stylistic variety, and anyone could be forgiven for thinking they cover a bit too much ground. Personally, I like the variety, though on The Lost Art Of Twilight the band handle it with varying degrees of success. But these guys are still damn good.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz