Monday, December 5, 2016

remembering Znöwhite, part 4: Cyclone Temple

by MMB
part 1
part 2
part 3
Znowhite’s last album was Act of God and that band came to an end in the late 80s. However, the band’s remaining members—guitarist Greg Fulton, bassist Scott Schafer and drummer John Slattery—went on to form Cyclone Temple with new vocalist Brian Troch. In 1991 Cyclone Temple’s debut was issued and it was called I Hate Therefore I Am.
In 1991 too many bands and audiences were concerned with trends, fashions, what’s cool, what’s in, what’s out, and this album is the opposite of fickle thinking: it is thrash, but it’s not the young-and-dumb thrash of the 80s, and that puts it in nobody’s land. It’s not straightforward thrash, it’s not the trend of the moment: death metal; it’s not traditional heavy metal. The album, for the sake of reference points, has a lot in common with Forbidden’s Twisted into Form (1990) and Heathen’s Victims of Deception (1991). It’s one of the furthest that thrash had gone in terms of maturing at that time, and it’s actually prog thrash, but people do not call it that because it’s not a term or category that was generally used. Cyclone Temple could not go further than this album because they were really swimming against the stream not just in rock music, but within metal music itself and its tastes of that time.
Everything about the album is professional and the quality is undeniable. This is not one those forgotten recordings that was done in a garage and that sounds like a demo. Greg Fulton’s guitar thrash tone is upfront, strong and heavy and it’s easy to feel it, easy to get into it, and there is melody. The overall production is solid and you can listen to it without worrying that the recording quality brings down the songs. In addition, there is another outstanding trait that takes the album to the next level of quality: the singing of Brian Troch, who has the skills to sing in a real way, mostly in a midrange and upper midrange that annoys nobody (or almost nobody), and pleases many people; a real singer, as opposed to someone “doing vocals” because nobody else in the band wanted to do it or was able to do it.
Read the reviews for this album on Metal Archives and you’ll begin to see what has happened and how some people’s thinking has changed about this album. In fact, there is only one bad review of the album and that person is complaining about how “slow” some songs are or that the lyrics are “bad.” This negative review exemplifies the shallow thinking, knee-jerk reaction that won’t let the music be what it is and that wants the music to be something else from what it is.
That brings up the next point: speed. The album is more than 50 minutes long and it has nine songs. It has plenty of thrashing speed during that time, but it is not an album exclusively concerned with speed. For example, the two slowest songs “Words Are Just Words” (7:18) and “I Hate Therefore I Am” (7:12) are thrash power ballads. They do start out slow, but they pick up the tempo a lot. In short, this album is a mix of thrash and heavy metal, and not a pure thrash album. In addition, the album violates a tradition in metal music: the first song of the album does not race out of the gates. It takes one minute and 23 seconds to kick into gear, and apparently this amount of time is too much for some people. Once the thrash kicks in, it arrives big time, huge riffs, a great voice, pounding drumming.
The lyrics deal with a variety of issues, but there is one type of issue that it does not have: not one of the songs glorifies rape, violence, evil and war. What you will find is lyrics about broken friendships or relations, the corruption of corporate money, the brutality of war, and injustice based on the color of skin, and other such matters.
With this very good album we are now at the end of the most interesting aspects of the story of Znowhite/Cyclone Temple. After the album, the band made a valiant to continue and did so, but things were looking rougher. They did an EP in 1993 and a final album in 1994, My Friend Lonely. However, by this time, it seems like the band’s leader, Greg Fulton, was getting restless and wanted to break out of the genre of metal. Perhaps the frustration of laboring in a metal band for years and years in obscurity had set in for good. As result, the 1994 album is, from a metal perspective, simply substandard, less interesting and not as smooth as the 1991 work. The music sounds like groove, chugging tunes, with a bit of rap and reggae and those 90s mainstream U.S. metal/rock vibes. They had a different vocalist by this time and his name was Sonny DeLuca, who has pipes and skills, perhaps a bit grittier compared to Brian Troch, but not as melodic and smooth. We can say that the album is serviceable, it has its moments, but as a total work it does not hold up as well now.
Thus, friends, we come to the end of the story of Znowhite/Cyclone Temple. Greg Fulton has continued making music, but from a metal viewpoint, it is of no interest to us. If you are really curious, remember that you can look him up on Metal Archives and you will be able to find him with no problem and explore for yourself his post-Cyclone Temple, non-metal musical endeavors.
For metal music, Greg Fulton’s contribution will always be Znowhite and Cyclone Temple. That’s lot, that’s plenty, we could not ask for more from someone and his bands that worked for years with little reward for their passion for metal. It’s tough making metal music and it’s tougher when even the metal audiences do not know or care about your band after more than a decade of making albums.
Here are two songs from the album I Hate Therefore I Am. This is “Words Are Just Words” in its entirety. Cyclone Temple - Words Are Just Words
This is “I Hate Therefore I Am”
Cyclone Temple - I Hate Therefore I Am
For visual purposes, here is the video for “Words Are Just Words.” Unfortunately, this is a shorter, dumbed down version of the song.
Words Are Just Words - Cyclone Temple (HD)

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