Dark Meditation - Polluted Temples 12"
Dark Meditation may hail from Seattle, but their sound is steeped in traditions associated with other corners of the globe—England’s working-class cities, frosty Scandinavian towns, Southern California meccas of the ‘80s. Or as the band puts it, Dark Meditation sounds like the bastard amalgamation of Venom and Judas Priest fighting it out on the Sunset Strip while Danzig and King Diamond cheer them on. While such reference points may suggest a nexus of evil kitsch and arena-level theatrics, the band’s debut album Polluted Temples comes from a place of down-and-out urgency and punk ethics, adopting the gloomy anthems and riff worship of heavy metal titans for their sonic exorcisms rather than their rock n’ roll panache. It’s an album that basks in big hooks, righteous guitar work, and an arena-level stomp without compromising any grit, grime, or guts.
Originally conceived by vocalist A.D. Vick, guitarist Rane, and guitarist/synth player Ian as a recording project intended to provide personal catharsis, Dark Meditation came to serve as a crucial artistic outlet for the entire five-piece band—a salve during trying times. Along with compatriots JW Mullett (bass), and Will Klintberg (drums), the founding trio poured four years of blood, sweat, and equity into Polluted Temples, though the inner-band relationships go back even further. The members of Dark Meditation all cut their teeth and crossed paths in various niches of the underground, churning out visceral and vitriolic bangers in acts like Emeralds (SEA), O.S.S., R.I.P., and Wildildlife. A punk ethos permeated their earlier acts, and while they may have excised some of that primitivism in their current project, the members of Dark Meditation have not skimped on the aural punishment and physical intensity.
Recorded over two weeks during Seattle’s record-breaking heatwave of June 2021 by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, The Sword, Soundgarden), Polluted Temples is the culmination of nearly half a decade’s worth of work. Not only does it represent a triumph over recent adversities, it serves as a negation of ingrained prejudices and social mores. “Most of our songs deal with personal consequences of our actions and how it effects the world around us,” Vick says of his lyrics. “But there is also the looming specter of evangelical Christianity that I was brought up in and trying to break away from the dogmatic concepts that were pushed upon me in childhood.”
These themes are displayed on songs like “Haunt of Fear,” where Vick explores the idea of the devil as an invented boogeyman used to govern by fear and instill hatred in the populace while the band lays down a thunderous foundation of first-wave black metal riffage, wailing pinch harmonics, and dueling guitar solos. On a similar tip, the album’s title track—a perfect blend of melodic gloom and pounding force bolstered by synth-colored choruses and heroic guitars—uses the biblical metaphor of the body as a temple to examine how physical pleasure-seeking turns people inward and away from the rest of humanity. This kind of social commentary manifests in the relentless chug of “Babalon.Money.Magick,” where the increasing disparity between the haves and have-nots is reflected Seattle’s new construction and tent cities. And it pops up again in the mid-tempo death rock strut of “Desolation Days,” where manipulative institutions and power-hungry people are brought to task for valuing the dollar over human lives.
Ultimately, Dark Meditation’s true power lies in their razor-sharp musicianship, addictive songwriting, and fist-pumping instrumentation. It’s no small wonder that the band’s early demos warranted an official release by Austria’s boutique black metal label Doctrina Carnis before they’d even played their first live show. Polluted Temples marks a substantial progression in both performance and production, and with that evolution comes the requisite support of a strong stateside label. In keeping with their connection to the Pacific Northwest underground, Dark Meditation have signed on with Seattle’s Satanik Royalty Records for the release of Polluted Temples. The album will be available through digital platforms on January 28, 2022, with vinyl out on December 2, 2022.