American metallers Dark Meditation cram a lot into their debut full-length Polluted Temples. Stylistically, they roam the skyways, never stopping in one spot for long, which can be a little frustrating if you like your bands easily digestible and essentially simplistic of purpose. There’s definitely more to these guys than meets the ear at first contact, but I’m not sure as to whether their chameleon nature might be a hindrance to some potential listeners.

Still, we can’t worry about them, and for people who have more of an open metal mind there’s an absolute stack to enjoy here. Whilst noting what we’ve already said, the overall feel here is one of goth-tinged ‘proper’ heavy metal; A.D. Vick is neither an air raid siren or an Eldritch-style crooner, opting instead for a middle ground that at times reminds the listener of Killing Joke‘s Jaz Coleman. It’s supremely effective as a musical tool, augmenting theatrical tracks like the Ghostish Masters Coil with a mystery that perhaps a more ‘orthodox’ metal vocal would have lacked.

It’s the vocals throughout that give the band their advantage and point of difference; the excellent Desolation Days, which also features some nice harmony leads from Ryan Fitch and Ian, features a superb performance from Vick, all superb, crawling King snake menace and occult fury. It’s heady stuff indeed.

The Howling Wild is the most straightforward headbanger here – those with a finely attuned nose for such things will get a strong whiff of Venom – and if my own particular favourite track, Nocturnal Forever, is even more ‘commercial’ sounding even than this, then it just goes to show that here we have a band that can indeed span the full spectrum of heavy musics.

Entertaining stuff, then,and certainly worth more than a cursory investigation if you enjoy artists who are prepared to push their own particular envelope a little.

Polluted Temples releases on January 28th.