Vital Vinyl: Tempel Guitarist Discusses Latest Instrumental Metal Release
In 2012, Arizona’s instrumental metal duo Tempel digitally released their debut album, ‘On the Steps of the Temple,’ to the masses. Less than two years later, and after teaming up with Prosthetic Records, Tempel are proud to finally offer their album as a physical release, not just as a CD but also as part of a very limited vinyl pressing. With gorgeous artwork and an exclusive run of only 250 copies, ‘On the Steps of the Temple’ proves to be an adventure of vigorous musical dynamics.
While instrumental metal may not be immediately familiar to some fans, Tempel have created a very accessible introduction into their brand of music with ‘On the Steps of the Temple.’ It’s welcoming appeal stems from the band’s passion for what they create. “We are really into the heavier and darker side of metal,” founder and guitarist Ryan Wenzel tells Loudwire in an exclusive interview. “We really wanted to create an instrumental record that was a journey or experience, not just a set of songs.”
That journey starts with ‘Mountain,’ which opens with a dark, dirge-like guitar piece. It doesn’t take long to rip into seriously fast metal, and soon the energy is too captivating to turn away from. “It just happens. I don’t know how to explain it,” Wenzel explains. No matter how it happens, the simple fact is that ‘On the Steps of the Temple’ is instantly memorable.
The experience of the album is no doubt enhanced due to the eerie artwork on the front of the 12-inch jacket. As the record spins and you examine the art, it’s hard not to get lost in it. “It’s an ancient Chinese scroll painting from an artist named Li Cheng. It’s called, ‘Solitary Temple Amid Clearing Peaks,’” says Wenzel. “We found the piece before we released it. We already had the band name, and a few of the song titles were finished. When we came across the piece, it blew us away. We were just like, ‘Wow.’ We knew that’s what we needed to use.”
As magnificent as the cover is, it’s just a section of the original scroll. “We only used a small portion of the painting, it’s actually a really long piece. The back cover of the vinyl is the back portion of the scroll. The middle portion is the front cover. We really wanted to convey the sound of the album just by looking at the artwork. It’s all one experience.” The scroll currently resides in Kansas City at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
It’s always encouraging to see bands sink their hearts into their music, especially when they put their efforts – both financial and time – into vinyl releases. “It’s a huge deal to me. I’ve been collecting for 10 years now, and I still think it’s the best format, period,” Wenzel tells us, emphatically. “You experience the artwork. There’s something about it that just feels like you get the whole package and you own a piece of that art. For some reason, when I listen to a record on vinyl, I pay more attention it. It makes me respect it even more.”
Gathering records for 10 years now, there’s no doubt that Wenzel has amassed quite the collection. “I’d have to say that one of my favorite albums of all time is ‘The Eye of Every Storm’ from Neurosis. I have the double gatefold of that, it’s on gray vinyl, it’s just so awesome. I love the artwork from Josh Graham, the gatefold is just beautiful.”
From his personal passion for the format to ensuring a proper vinyl release with the help of Prosthetic, Wenzel’s enthusiasm is evident in his music and the overall listening experience. Fortunately for fans of Tempel and instrumental metal, ‘On the Steps of the Temple’ is just the beginning. “We’re deep in the process of the follow-up album. Hopefully we can get that finished in the next couple of months and get the ball rolling on that.”
With a limited initial run of 250 copies, the vinyl version of ‘On the Steps of the Temple’ has already sold out via the Prosthetic Records online shop, but if you can find copy, it’s definitely worth the effort. And who knows, maybe it won’t be too long before you can throw another Tempel slab on your stack, as well.
Tempel – ‘On the Steps of the Temple’