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

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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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  • Dr. Dubz

    When I finally go through with it and off myself, this album will quite likely be playing the background when they find my body.

  • Mother Shabubu III

    Dude “The Man Who Loves To Hurt Himself” is such a massive song. Once that riff kicks in shit gets real.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KA3bX5fMC5s

    I hear a bit of TITD in Burnt By the Sun and early Mastodon (AKA non-Foo Fighting Mastodon) at times.

    • This one is very Botch sounding. I am going to tear apart my basement now because I’m pretty sure I own this CD.

    • Dr. Dubz

      I remember my first weird find on the internet.

    • I’m looking this long gif while listening the second song posted here.

      What I’m doing with my life spending time with all of you!? 🙁

    • I’m looking this long gif while listening the second song posted here.

      What I’m doing with my life spending time with all of you!? 🙁

    • Maik Beninton

      WHAT.THE.FUCK!?

    • CyberneticOrganism

      0_0

    • my cat’s breath smells like cat food

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        lol…

      • more beer

        Better than a dog that eats it’s own shits mouth smells.

    • What the fucking fuck.

  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Christian Molenaar is still my hero.

    Playing this album now for good measure.

  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Christian Molenaar is still my hero.

    Playing this album now for good measure.

  • Tyreena Hendricks

    I made sure to put on my best dress for you Steve. My ass bleeds for you Sincerely.

    http://img001.lazygirls.info/people/avatar/avatar_christina_hendricks_la_cocina_8OKVMiGd.sized.gif

  • Tyreena Hendricks

    I made sure to put on my best dress for you Steve. My ass bleeds for you Sincerely.

    http://img001.lazygirls.info/people/avatar/avatar_christina_hendricks_la_cocina_8OKVMiGd.sized.gif

  • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

    I’ve been working on a possible Groundbreaker of Enter The Wu Tang: 36 Chambers as I know there is rap fans here.

  • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

    I’ve been working on a possible Groundbreaker of Enter The Wu Tang: 36 Chambers as I know there is rap fans here.

    • Dr. Dubz

      This series is for metal and albums that influenced metal.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        A person could probably argue that the Wu-Tang Clan have had an influence on heavy music…

        • A person could argue just about anything.

          • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

            Just about anything but the fact that you have terrible music tastes.

          • Why argue a universally-accepted fact?

          • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

            Seeing that some people actually like Born of Osiris, I do not believe that there is anything universally accepted.

          • “some people actually like Born of Osiris”
            No, that can’t be right.

          • *ehhmm*

            I love me some BOO, boo.

            GL

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I see what you did here.

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            GL plz!

          • BOO-TANG-CLAN lolololol

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            That was mean. I like the Wu!

          • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

            I would probably like them if they stuck to a single genre and didn’t go all chuggity chuggas and then suddenly switch to prog/melodeath.

          • That is terrible logic.

          • I would probably like them if they didn’t suck.

          • You are just trying to be a bad-ass in front of LSD. I understand 🙂

          • Tyreena Hendricks

            No, he’s telling the truth.

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            Yay!

          • You do not have to pretend. I am fairly confident that everyone in the world collectively hated this release.

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            I love Siren Charms though.

          • Tyreena Hendricks

            I’m gonna miss this band.

          • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

            The fact that I hate them because of how the songs are structured?

          • You hate a band because the way the songs are structured?

          • Dr. Dubz

            I’m actually with the Skrimp on here. I like chaotic song structures at times, but to me, BOO don’t even sound like they write songs, just strings of notes.

          • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

            I don’t see why that would be unfair criticism, I like the chuggity chuggas and prog parts separately, but just mashing them in a single song without even pretending to care about transitioning properly really pisses me off.

          • You guys have to be trolling me.

          • Dr. Dubz

            Not trolling, friend. I honestly can’t tell any of their songs apart.

          • I can believe that statement… But that could be said about every other metal band that someone is not familiar with.

          • Dr. Dubz

            This is true. I have listened to them, though. Some of my good friends were big fans.

          • Fair enough <3

          • Dr. Dubz

            Still <3 you GL

          • Shrimp ov Good Opinions <3

            Group hug?

          • Dr. Dubz

            Always and forever

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Yeah, I bet a layman couldn’t pick apart songs from most extreme heavy metal albums. It takes time, and like beer, cigars, coffee, and a host of other examples is an acquired taste.

          • Dr. Dubz

            You make a good point. Boo on BOO.

          • JWG

            But could a person argue that they’re not a person, given the definition: “…a human being regarded as an individual”?

            It’s almost as circular as the result for “define heuristics”:

          • Dr. Dubz

            Or when you’re trying to define why humans have intrinsic worth in the context of deontologic ethics without using a religious argument.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™
          • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

            BrokenCYDE is human in that ‘all too human’ sense of Nietzsche. It wrings our withers when it unrolls his scroll of life. It had virtually to create God — and what a Herculean task that was! BrokenCYDE rose from the depths and, reaching the summit, retained something of the depths about it still. It is chaos and fecundity. Humanity, with it, is but a vortex in the bubbling maelstrom.

            – A Dinosaur-Shaped Car, July 12, 2011

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            Goddamnit.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            *Goddamnit, that one was pretty fire

        • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

          Nu metal was the greatest genre, and it had the best fashion also.

          -GoldFist090, 2 weeks ago

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            I do like nu metal and some of the fashion but it is not the greatest genre.

          • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

            Limp Bizkit is the most powerful band in history.

            -Psztyk236, 5 months ago

          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            RA7XF plz!

          • Dagon

            Could you provide examples, fashion-wise?

          • Guacamole Jim
          • Dagon

            Yeah I’m just trying to find what’s in there to like. Not as an insult or a challenge, I am actually deeply interested.

            Politeness aside, I’d still hit tho

          • Guacamole Jim

            It was a bad time in human history. I still love a good deal of the music, but the fashion was pretty horrendous. Although I can’t say that I think the ridiculousness of hipster fashion is any better (apologies to you hipsters– naw, I don’t mean that, you suck).

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            #Toiletconfessions

            I actually think some of current hipster fashion is pretty cool.

          • building off your comment… I loved to have someone describe to me the appeal of wearing clothes that are far too tight.

            GL

          • You can see my traps and obliques better.

          • I do not need to wear tight clothes for you to see my traps.

            https://www.nwtrappers.com/catalog/prodimages/bt2cso.jpg

          • What about tight pants?

          • You can see my flawless ass better.

          • I should have seen that one coming. Damnit

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            For me, it’s not so much the super tight clothes but a lot of “hipster” dudes have really nice hair and I find a lot of women a person could describe as a “hipster” really attractive, usually it’s their hair, style of dress, and tattoos.

          • Interesting!

          • more beer

            There is none. I don’t know how any guy could willing crush their balls like that.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Coal Chamber’s early days

          • Tyreena Hendricks

            That’s fucking Loco.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            … … … … … … … … … … … … GO!

            http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view7/2789181/coal-chamber-loco-o.gif

          • Tyreena Hendricks
          • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

            JNCOs

      • Akerskronks ov Steele

        Watch, we’re gonna wind up going through every single Death album.

        • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

          God, I hope not. One is enough. Preferably Leprosy or Spiritual Healing.

          • The Beargod

            Or Symbolic.

          • or Sound of Perseverance.

          • The Beargod

            I was trying to be subtle about the fact we did.

            :'(

          • i missed that. myself, i was hoping we’d just start a chain until every album was mentioned.

          • Akerskronks ov Steele

            Might just have to default to Scream Bloody Gore. We got the technical groundbreaker in Symbolic (Although I argue that Human was the real groundbreaker) but SBG is sometimes scene as the most groundbreakingest.

      • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

        I completely forgot that. Do you think Vivid by Living Colour deserves a Groundbreakers article because I’ve thought about doing one.

        • obviously i’m not a mod nor can i speak for them… but i’d read it / 10!

    • Just Merol.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Link you got me saying “merol” in private conversations a lot, lol

        • UHGHRRHGRHGRHGRH!

          “MEROL”.

          Jajajajajaja. I have several spanglish usings 😛

  • JWG

    DSotM might well be my favourite concept album, period full stop, so the comparison is definitely enough to grab my interest.

    Unrelated thought, fan artwork for The Void (film) continues to make me jealous that I can’t do much more than chicken scratch and infantile doodling. Check this out: https://twitter.com/StudioSheila/status/588439491636899840

  • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel
    • Do you like Today is the Day?

      • Ahmed Johnson The Reef Eater

        I like this album of theirs. It’s very enjoyable and heavy.

      • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

        Not really. I avoided them for the longest time based on their name alone (shallow, I know), but after hearing them talked about so much, I gave ’em shot. Not really my cup of tea. I’m not a fan of noise music and I have limited appreciation for most grind core, so this noisecore amalgam didn’t do much for me.

        Svartidaudi is really excellent, though.

      • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

        Do you like Svartidaudi?

    • The Beargod

      ZohGood.

    • Mother Shabubu III

      My thought process whilst listening:

      “Sounds like it’s gonna be another DsO rip off…but wait. OH, me rikey rong time! *Vocals kick in* Goddammit! Who let Goldar in here? There goes the atmosphere…WAIT here it comes again. (3:50) These vocals are much better. Deranged and desperate sounding. Goddammit…Goldar’s back, get the raving derelict vocals back in here. Okay, I love this regardless.”

      And now I’m at 12:25ish, lol.

      • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

        The desperate vocals is one of my favorite parts in the first track. The doomy closing riff in the second track is another highlight for me.

        • Mother Shabubu III

          I wish they would utilize those full time. It’s different from a lot of bands out there and fits their vibe better…at least for me it does.

          • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

            I dig both types of vocals, so I think it feels funky-fresh and badass when they change over to the manic, unhinged vocals.

            DsO does a similar change between vocal types a lot on Paracletus, and I love it. Adds a level of contrast.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            I just feel like I hear the main “Goldar” vocals on a lot of dissonant black metal lately.

            DsO does, but it sounds nothing like this band’s “unhinged” vocals. They both work well. DsO’s sound more like a state of madness, whereas this sounds like it’s from a state desperation.

            I’ve always wanted to hear one of those bands do some kind of cult-like, ghostly choir of vocals instead of the typical approach.

          • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

            I would love to hear that, too. Some of the orthodox bands use choir samples or occasionally choir-like vocals, but it would be so awesome to hear a band/sound bases around the ghostly choir of which you speak.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            Kinda like of what Napalm Death has been doing on tracks like “Fall On Their Swords” and “Leper Colony”. Clean, but incredibly haunting, ominous, and powerful.

  • Akerskronks ov Steele

    Damn and I still haven’t even listened to Animal Mother yet. Then again, my noisecore pallet surfaces only briefly.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I checked out Animal Mother recently cause of our boy here. I thought it was pretty good but I think the subject of today’s post sounds way better initially.

      • Animal Mother was the first TitD album I heard. I dig Temple of the Morning Star more.

        • The Beargod

          Really? I always had the feeling you we’re like ToH’s premier TITd-lover or some such.

          • I was a complete newbie until I wrote a news post about their van accident.

          • The Beargod

            My life is a lie.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Lots of people thought I was a giant Vomir fan after I did that STYA series, lol. I’m not.

          • The Beargod

            Was Vomir the HNW-thingy?

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Yes. Afterwards people were like “Breegrodamus did you hear Vomir’s new album” and I was like “uh, no I have not”.

          • The Beargod

            That’s really the only genre I’ve heard and not yet found a really good/solid/enjoyable artist from. Although nnaai was close and so good I may end up delving there more too lol.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            While I would argue that power electronics are similar enough to metal that a metal fan could find enjoyment there, I would be hard pressed to recommend HNW to anyone besides people who are already fans because I wouldn’t know how.

            Writing that series, and getting interested in PExxx, has made extreme metal less extreme to me. There is a little bit of grind that is super extreme (this year’s The Kill album, holy fuck) and some of the longer difficult albums like Teitanblood’s Death, but most of what people think of as heavy or brutal or extreme I’m like say, this is cool.

            I’d like to cover that in a post sometimes if I weren’t a hack, lol

          • The Beargod

            Likewise, I find it hard to consider moat music very “extreme” based on the mere music itself anymore. The production and such have as big a role ’cause, you know. Ben There, Dan That.

        • Tyreena Hendricks

          I dig most all of TITD, but the drumming in “In the Eyes of God” is just fucking incredible. I’ll listen to that album for the drum performance alone.

    • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel
      • Akerskronks ov Steele

        If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word, that word is “poontang.”

        • Big Poppa Penis Pump

          Pooty Tang?

  • The Beargod

    Ooh! I’ve been intending to get to this band recently. A good time to pull this.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Holy shit this is awesome music, equalled only by this write-up. I always feel baffled when I read CM’s articles, since I know he hates music.

  • When you say Botch and Coalesce you are speaking my language. I must revisit this because I didn’t pay much attention to it years ago.

  • I was completely down with this for the first song. Hit the second link for “Pinnacle” and heard the lyrics.

    https://p.gr-assets.com/540×540/fit/hostedimages/1380400412/775855.gif

    • Tyreena Hendricks

      When they played that song live. I feared for my life. I kind of wish I died.

  • The vocals always sounded weird to me but from a recording perspective, it sounds like they did one track clean, one track distorted to give them that distinct sound.

  • HA! I ALREADY LIKED TODAY IS THE DAY! YOU CAN’T SWAY ME FROM THE PATH, MOLENAAR!

  • Big Poppa Penis Pump

    I was always under the impression that they were an emo band, but I’ll have to swoop on over and check this stuff out later.

  • Óðhinn

    Temple of the Morning Star. Great album.

  • Vassago Gamori

    Also,this cover.
    I will never not love this cover.