I must admit that I was somewhat suspicious when Temple Balls’ new album showed up in my mailbox. Why? Well, first of all the name – Temple Balls. I mean, really? Secondly, they’re a young band looking like it was 1989 all over again and the music they’re playing is supposed to be energetic Hard Rock with influences from said decade. I’m sorry, but too many bands in that genre has released records without impressing me all that much lately. In fact, melodic Hard Rock bands has been thirteen-a-dozen in later years which makes it hard to fully embrace every new act that comes up for air ever so often. But you know what they say about the book and its cover so it would be unfair not to give a new band a break, right? So that’s what I will do.
Temple Balls hails from Finland and has been around since 2016. I wasn’t aware of this but they have already released two records – I had never even heard the name before they released this album. Their debut album, Traded Dreams came out in 2017 and was produced by Tobias Lindell (Europe, HEAT, Mustasch) and it was followed by Untamed in 2019 and both albums were – apparently – well-received when they came out. The new album, out on Frontiers, was produced by one Jona Tee of HEAT fame and by the looks of all that, maybe this will actually be a cool album and if it is, I might have some back-catalogue checking to do.
Opening up with the leading single ”Thunder From The North”, we get an uptempo rocker, melodic yet raunchy like a heavier Crazy Lixx. It’s a cracking number with a whole lot of attitude and rawness yet with a whole bunch of poppiness and massive hooks. With a rhythmic, almost danceable beat, some crunchy guitars and striking melodies, the hook-fest that is the chorus brings the tune home and I smell a hit here. ”Long Ways, Long Lies” follows with a big sound, an even bigger party-mood and some effective melodies all over the tune. The song goes more into Melodic Rock territory than the opener but there’s still enough punch and rowdy guitars to rock us all. Another big refrain makes the tune stick like glue. Great stuff indeed.
Second single ”T.O.T.C” takes on a way more sleazy vibe while keeping the melodic melodies – Crashdïet and Crazy Lixx meets Guns N’ Roses and Skid Row if you will. There’s a big, edgy Rock ’n’ Roll twist from the late 80’s involved here and the whole thing oozes from good-time party-rock albeit with a bit of finesse. A very direct sing-along friendly chorus sets the party straight – good one. ”Fallen Youth” takes a big step into Heavy Metal riffage on a faster pace and the core of the song is a fist in the gut but contrasts with a smooth main-melody and a massive, infectious AOR-laden Arena Rock refrain that catches on right on the spot. Great stuff.
”Bad Bad Bad” is a pop-song disguised as a sleaze-rocker. With a danceable rhythm, an upbeat groove and an infectious swing, the tune also holds distinct and crafty riffing with some super-hooky melodies all over the place. The chorus is more addictive than any drug out there and sports a hit-potential so high it’s ridiculous. A band like Reckless Love would have sold their mothers for a tune like this. It might be glossy but I totally dig it. With verses upbeat rhythmically yet with a held-back arrangement the latest single ”What Is Dead Never Dies” dwells in a darker soundscape. The chorus, however, takes a left-turn and brings on a groovy stomp and a rougher vibe with enough catchiness to sell. At times, the band even glances at Metal here. Good one.
”Unholy Night” is more heavy and aggressive and holds a pounding drum-beat and a thunderous bass line. It’s a straight forward rocker that mixes sleaze with Metal and once again, the vocal-melodies is reminiscent of Crazy Lixx. It’s edgy and gritty but it never loses the big melodies. That said, it’s not as direct as the rest – a pretty good tune, no more no less. Continuing the faster pace, ”Heart Of A Warrior” takes on a more Melodic Rock touch with sleazier elements and a swinging groove. The punchy and solid foundation that carries the song mixes perfectly with the big vocals and the massive sing-along chorus catchier than a STD. This is brilliant and should be a single.
On a straight forward note, ”You Better Run” kicks away in a fast tempo, doing its best to kick up some dust. It’s a rowdy rocker that holds both poppiness, sleaziness and metal-riffing. The Pop shows up in the vocal-melodies but for some reason I can’t embrace the tune fully. It’s ok but also somewhat forgettable. ”If Only I Could” is the album’s only ballad. Quite slick and soft, it’s also very emotional. It starts out stripped with only piano and vocals but gets a bit more bombastic and heavy when the rest of the band joins in. The tune takes us back to lighter-in-the-air 1990 power-balladry and is both colorful and affable. It’s a soulful piece with an enormous refrain that must be a single at some point. Awesome.
Temple Balls closes the album with a real balls-to-the-wall rocker called ”Something To Die For”. Upbeat, intense and in-your-face, this edgy kick-ass belter brings out both Sleaze, classic Hard Rock and Melodic Rock melodies with some fist-in-the-air pumping rhythms that will work like a charm from the stage. It’s one of those songs that works just as well as an opener as a closer and this one would be perfect as a live-opener, so energetic you’ll sweat just by listening to it. Good one.
For the record, there’s nothing original here at all. Nothing. Temple Balls plays the music they love and they do it with heart, passion and lots of conviction but if you’re looking for something revolutionary, look elsewhere. However, this is not me saying these guys are a bunch of clones because they’re not – and they do sound like Temple Balls and nothing else. Here’s the deal, Temple Balls is about fun and they make fun-loving music, they write great songs with lots of hooks and attitude and that’s good enough for me. Besides, I’m glad that I have finally found a new band in this genre that not only sports the attitude, sound and look of the golden 80’s days but also can back it up with some quality. The name still sucks but this is damn good record. I hope I get to catch this lot live because I have a feeling they’ll provide a damn good time.