Man’s betrothed to time
Life a pageant of decay
All have a grain of sand
In the shower of the hourglass
Timeghoul where spawned by the elder gods somewhere near Missouri in 1987, originally named Doom’s Lyre (changed to Timeghoul in 1991). Their discography, encompassing (sadly) the only two demo’s they released(“Tumultuous travellings” and “Panaramic twilight” between 1992 and 1994, during the heyday of death metal’s popularity, and eventual fall from grace as blastbeats, speed, cookie cutter vocals and cannibal corpse emulation overcame the atmosphere and groove that had made the early Death metal scene so great. The band went on to play what is generally considered some of the best progressive death metal ever recorded.
Melding cold, precise prog thrash guitar pyrotechnics reminiscent of bands such as Watchtower or Nocturnus (Yes I know Nocturnus is a death metal band, but listen to “thresholds” and tell me you don’t hear Medgadeths riffing style lurking within its obtuse sci fi structures). Mournful doom death passages(particularly in their second demo)are utilised, informed by bands such as paradise lost and My dying bride and accompanied by lush choral synth arrangements similar to those utilised(again)by Nocturnus, lending an extra layer to the sci fi atmosphere of the music. These slower passages often harmonized by eerie Gregorian vocals, soaked in reverb. The band also utilised the jazz fusion tonality, off the wall structures and juxtaposition (I would explain what juxtaposition is, but Google is a thing y’know) typical of fellow prog death bands such as Atheist, Demillich and Death. The structuring was also somewhat influenced by classical music, given that one of the members was a trained classical composer, these structural extravagances were present not only within the wider form of the songs, but also apparent in the way the individual riffs were structured and transitioned. Topped off with strange ambient passages utilise crystalline synths and distorted spoken word which conjure up images of a futuristic lovecraftian nightmare.
The production sound, while rough and somewhat primitive, is not so rough and primitive to someone accustomed to early 90’s DM demo’s which is most likely the demographic of timeghouls music, and this article/blog to some extent, so I wont spend any time dwelling on it.
Timeghoul’s subject matter was based around sci fi/fantasy themes taking influence from Norse mythology (Rainwound), Dungeons and Dragons(a creature called the gut was the lyrical inspiration for Gutspawn) and even a strange theory about the Himalayas being created from a large chunk of (Saturns moon) Mimas after an ancient nuclear war. The sci-fi themes transcend the lyrical content, utilising odd time signatures, juxtaposition, reverb out the arse and the occasional layered synth break to create a strange and unsettling, otherworldly atmosphere. This is especially prevalent on the two tracks of the “Panaramic twilight” demo; “infinity coda” and “boiling in the hourglass”. The one thing I find remarkable about Timeghoul is that they pulled off the whole “sci-fi themes” thing without overuse of synths, something I don’t think has really been done since. “The siege” on the other hand, creates a morbid, forlorn atmosphere, more along the lines of a work of fantasy. The song describes the fall of a besieged garrison, slowly dying and eventually accepting death as the invaders come to murder them, (apparently)allegorical of a man going insane. Deep shit right there folks.
Timeghoul’s musical works still stand up today, showcasing a tasteful contrast to modern tech death bands, who, instead of attempting to create interesting and deep musical soundscapes, instead wish to play as technically and fast as they can, in order to showcase their fretwanking abilities. Interestingly this is what seems to happen to most progressive music scenes; they die once the spirit ,the groove and the feel of the music is removed by fretwankers. Thankfully due to the rise of the internet in the past decade, bands such as Timeghoul are seeing a resurgence in popularity, however we sadly wont be seeing any more material from Timeghoul, probably ever, according to their website. Some would say it’s a terrible shame that Timeghoul never made it, but I believe its good, many progressive death metal bands such as Atheist and Cynic were booed and generally disliked by fans when they toured, leading to their eventual demise’s in the mid 90’s, the same thing would most likely have happened to Timeghoul, I believe it is their legacy to remain an obscurity, something for people to find on a tip from someone on an obscure metal forum and be pleasantly surprised.
I’ll normally be supplying DL links on this blog, but not for this band, I have too much respect for Timeghoul to do that. Its not difficult to find the bands discog on mediafire or whatever.
The artwork for the 1994 Panaramic twilight demo