|Review: Timeghoul - 1992-1994 Discography|
Label: Dark Descent Records
Year released: 2019
Originally released in: 2012
Genre: Death Metal
Review online: April 14, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Rated 4.83/5 (96.67%) (6 Votes)
Influence can be a tricky thing to track when it comes to music. It's easy to say that one band sounds like another, but you can't really prove that was intentional unless the band in question says so. What makes it harder is that you can very easily have a popular sound become standardized in a way where everyone takes inspiration from it just by listening to the genre in question without ever hearing where it initially came from, especially when the originators of the sound are themselves obscure.
I bring all this up because for the longest time, the legendary Missouri-based Technical Death Metal band Timeghoul seemed destined to remain lost in time despite how many sci-fi themed Death Metal bands would adopt elements of their sound over the years. They only recorded a couple of demos in the '90s before calling it quits on account of no one in Missouri knowing what two of those genre tags mean, but those two demos were heavily circulated in the tape trading circuit and went on to inspire a bevy of sci-fi themed Death Metal bands for years to come. It's no wonder, then, that around 2012 Dark Descent Records got ahold of these demos and made this compilation, making it easier than ever to give one of the most influential Metal bands you probably never heard of the spotlight they deserved.
Timeghoul's sound is a little difficult to describe despite the fact you've heard it from bands like Blood Incantation and Xenomorph. They're undeniably technical, but not in the clinical vein of bands like Origin or Archspire, as they were much more experimental and strange than that. They wrote vicious and complex songs that were endless cascades of time changes and intricate, bizarre musicianship that could go from furious blasting to slow, doomy crawls in the blink of an eye without ever losing focus. The drumming is furious and nuanced, the guitar work inventive and menacing, and the vocals range from sharp guttural growls to otherworldly chanting that really sells the tales of cosmic horror that the band tells.
The material from Tumultuous Travelings offers the most straightforward material you're going to get from Timeghoul, with the pummeling opener "Rain Wound" serving as a perfect introduction to the band with its crashing riffs and pummeling drums that spiral into shimmering melodic work like they're being sucked in by a black hole. I can't say the other three songs quite hit that same high, but when they kill as hard as "The Siege" and the infernal "Gutspawn", that's hardly a stinging criticism. It's the tracks from Paranamic Twilight, however, where we really see the band taking shape, as it takes the base Timeghoul sound and makes it even more complex and strange. True, it's only two songs, but those songs are the massive "Boiling in the Hourglass" and the jaw-dropping "Occurence on Mimas", which give the band even more room to cram in every idea they have to make some of the most inventive and satisfying Death Metal ever made, complete with some of the coolest sci-fi themed lyrics you'll ever hear (I am a God, the prime being/I shall impale you/On the crumbled pillars of the millenia)
The version I have is a reissue from 2019 that comes with a second disc of bonus material, including studio sessions that never got past the rehearsal stage, recordings from a live show in 1992, and some demo tracks from their days as Doom's Lyre. The studio sessions are basically just more Timeghoul sans the vocals, and while they don't match their second demo in the state presented, they still have everything you could ask for from the band. The live show is decently recorded considering the circumstances, so you actually get to hear how hard their material killed in a stage setting, and even get to listen to the unrecorded track "The Digger", making it even more worthwhile to hear. The remaining demos are what you could charitably call rough, as they're very poorly recorded and even lose sound quality at certain points, but even at their earliest Timeghoul knew how to write intricate and strange material, so I'd say it's worth pushing through at least once. You could argue this material is only of real interest to fans of the band, but who the hell is going to listen to them without becoming one?
This has run much longer than I usually aim for, but I think it's telling just how much there is to say about a band that only existed for a short amount of time. Despite how many bands have tried to imitate this band, none of them have ever really hit the same eclectic highs of Timeghoul, even nearly 30 years after they meaningfully existed. We'll probably never get anything else from the band, but I think it's perfectly fitting for their work to be frozen in time and remain entirely without peer. Essential.
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