Heavy Temple transcends at Blind Bob’s

By Matt Clevenger

Photo: Heavy Temple’s High Priestess Nighthawk lands at Blind Bob’s Nov. 17; photo: Dante Torrieri

Fans of psychedelic metal, horror/sci-fi movies, and the occult will not want to miss Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple at Blind Bob’s Thursday, Nov. 17.

Using five-string bass and an assortment of other creepy instruments including cello and a theremin, the three-piece group creates its own kind of metal—a dark mix of hippy-era psychadelia and occult references, like Danzig jamming with The Doors or Jefferson Airplane.

The band’s members are as unique as their sound. Fronted by the High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals, Heavy Temple also features Arch Bishop Barghest on guitar and drummer Siren Tempestas. The group released their first album, Unholy Communion, back in 2013, but the current lineup is still relatively new.

“We’ve been playing together for about a year or so now, maybe a little more,” High Priestess Nighthawk says. “We were a two-piece, just drums and bass for the better part of a year after Heavy Temple kind of re-formed, and then we added the six-string shortly after that.”

Bass has always been a key ingredient in Heavy Temple’s sound, though High Priestess Nighthawk discovered the five-string by accident: “My old band, we were playing a show with Jucifer and I had a four-string Fender J. I went to go change into my show attire, and I guess my bass just fell over or something, so I had to borrow one. Jucifer doesn’t have a bass, and the other band had a left-handed bass player, and some other band had already left so the only guy that was left had a five-string.”

“We were already tuned down to B,” she says, “so that just kind of worked out. Then I got a five-string Fender, and I just got another five-string. I just bought a really nice ESP.” Heavy Temple has released two CDs, including the Unholy Communion album and a separate cover of Type O Negative’s “Love You to Death,” and is currently working on an upcoming album based on the Dark Tower book series by legendary horror writer Stephen King.

“The new one is sort of loosely based on the Dark Tower series by Stephen King,” she says. “For anyone who’s ever read the Dark Tower or Stephen King in general, he’s weird. But in the Dark Tower series, specifically, there are a lot of nuances. While I was reading it, I was also writing this album, and there were just a lot of weird parallels between the story and kind of what was going on in my personal life at the time.”

Nighthawk says the new album also sounds different than previous Heavy Temple releases. “The first record has cello on it,” she says, “and also our old guitarist had a theremin. We ran that through some pedals for some of the weird stuff on Unholy Communion. This record has pretty straightforward instrumentation, with just the cello. But for the next record, we’re thinking about adding some keys and doing a few other weird things, so we’ll see—we’re all kind of weird.”

“I think [on] this new album, I was angrier when I wrote it,” she says. “This record is a lot fuzzier, and that’s due in part to our guitarist. So it’s a little more aggressive, a little fuzzier, a little less, I don’t know, mystical than the first album. But I hope people enjoy this record as much as they liked the first one.”

They also have created two different versions of the album artwork, one of tape, and another for the CD and vinyl. In addition to the new album, Heavy Temple is also looking forward to a full touring schedule this fall and winter, starting with a short run of shows with the North Carolina-based band Toke, as part of their Creeps Ride West Tour.

“We’re finally hitting the road together,” Nighthawk says. “We’re playing a one-off tonight, and then we start our tour with Toke. We start off in Philly on Nov. 15 and then go through Pittsburgh, Dayton, and then we’re out to Indianapolis on Friday, Nov. 18 for the Doomed and Stoned Fest.”

The Creeps Ride West tour hits Dayton for the show at Blind Bob’s Thursday, Nov. 17. “This will be our first time in Ohio altogether,” Nighthawk says. “But I’ve heard good things about Blind Bob’s, so we’re really excited.”

Heavy Temple performs Thursday, Nov. 17 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in Dayton. Toke is also on the bill. Show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit HeavyTemple.Bandcamp.com or BlindBobs.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at MattClevenger@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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