Groundbreakers: Today Is the Day’s Temple of the Morning Star


The influence of Pink Floyd’s seminal The Dark Side of the Moon is undeniable.

Though it exists on a wholly different musical plane, Today Is the Day’s fourth album, 1997’s Temple of the Morning Star, has been just as influential a work on the history of extreme music as The Dark Side of the Moon was for rock, prog, and pop. On Temple, singer/guitarist Steve Austin and his rotating band of weirdos (on this album drummer Mike Hyde and bassist Christopher Reeser) managed to fully encapsulate and epitomize every detail of the tradition, regardless of how minute, with an accuracy and precision unmatched by any other.

But their adherence to musical conventions was hardly an exercise in austerity; instead, their incisiveness is married to and matched (and perhaps even outweighed) only by the degree to which the trio were willing to spit in the face of that very same convention. Today Is the Day had always operated on a different wavelength, but Temple of the Morning Star was a fearless march into territories still not fully explored today by the band or any of those they influenced.

From the chunky, minimalist noise rock of their earlier days on Amphetamine Reptile (“Pinnacle,” “Kill Yourself”) to the dark, blown-out sludge of their later efforts (“High as the Sky,” “Hermaphrodite”) to trippy sound experiments (“Mankind,” “Root of all Evil”), Temple contains representations of every sound Today Is the Day would explore throughout their career.

But that’s not to say Austin’s experimentalism is over; far from it, in fact. Today Is the Day would take their music in heavier directions on later albums (along the way launching the career of Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher and Brann Dailor). Last year’s Animal Mother is just as excruciating and affecting as any other entry in the band’s discography and just as vital to its course.

The scope of Temple of the Morning Star’s influence is simply incalculable. Its sound echoes out across the musical landscape in everything from sludge groups like Tombs and Lord Mantis to weirdo hardcore by the likes of Botch and Coalesce to modern noise rock bands like KEN Mode. Today Is the Day’s legacy is an active one, and though the band is far from a household name even in the microcosm of underground metal, many of the genre’s modern heavy-hitters simply would not be around without albums like Temple of the Morning Star and Willpower, and that legacy continues with new releases every three to four years.

Groundbreakers is the Toilet ov Hell’s Hall ov Fame where we induct some of the most important and influential metal albums of all time. Catch up on previous entries into this hallowed bowl.

Neurosis – Souls at Zero
Death – Symbolic
Fear Factory Demanufacture
Voivod – Killing Technology

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