There is a lot that can be said about a ninja-themed NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) band worshipping the timeless songwriting formulas of Iron Maiden in 2023, but instead of clinging to Dyspläcer’s comically successful gimmick of sorts, I believe that this triumph of an album will be better serviced by simply focusing on its music alone.
Temple Heights is a journey back in time Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III style in the sense that each song’s lyrical content can easily evoke thoughts of Feudal Japan in the 1500s and 1600s. Vocalist, Justice Bragg, paints quite a picture with his impressive vocal range, harkening back to the youthful sounds of Bruce Dickenson in the 1980s. Temple Heights takes the listener on a lyrical quest for power, freedom, and redemption, following the adventures of five warriors (obviously portrayed by the band members). Musically, however, Dyspläcer lovingly pay homage to bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, and others of the like. For those who say “nostalgia is not a genre”, try being a traditional metalhead in your late 30s and hearing a band like Dyspläcer for the first time. This band has truly mastered the art of creating time displacement in the listener’s mind, while also manifesting a fresh NWOBHM sound with a modern-day youthful energy.
Temple Heights is just as much about the almighty distorted riff and raw speed, as it is about melancholy and hauntingly beautiful clean guitars. It’s an album that cares just as much about shredding solos as it does about catchy guitar melodies and harmonies as well. For how predominant this particular style of metal has been the past few decades, Dyspläcer have found a way to keep their songs unpredictable and multidimensional throughout multiple listening experiences. It’s an album that doesn’t get old after the first few days it’s in your rotation. In fact I fell so hard for this album, I did a YouTube cover of Dyspläcer’s song “Way of the Ninja” almost immediately after hearing the studio version of it. It’s probably the catchiest song on the album. I first heard the song live back in mid March when Dyspläcer opened up for Visions of Atlantis at Montage Music Hall, and I found myself humming the chorus for a subsequent month. There’s something to be said about hooks and melodies you hear live only once, yet they stay burrowed in your brain months later before studio versions of said songs even see the light of day.
Fans of classic heavy metal and NWOBHM should rejoice! The warriors of Dyspläcer have exactly what you crave! I also want to note that Temple Heights was recorded by Mr. Zane Knight (guitarist of Gates of Paradox and Eternal Crypt) at Knight in a High Tower Studios. Zane was able to capture the 1980s, analog sounding production style Dyspläcer were obviously going for flawlessly, and Zane’s audio engineering skills deserve to be recognized in this review. The album sounds like it could’ve been released on cassette back in those days, while still having a modern-day, digital recording appeal to it, never once losing its punch nor clarity. Overall, Temple Heights just has a great balance between these two recording styles, extremely audible in every song.
Support Dyspläcer by following the links below:
Full album playlist on YouTube:
You can also watch the full album release show on YouTube, the footage taken from Photo City Music Hall on April 20, 2023!