It’s possible to become a tad cynical about the recent surge of occult rock and doom, with more than a few of the bands chanting along about Satan and left hand devotions not necessarily offering a truly magickal experience with their music. Luckily bands like Saturnalia Temple exist to put the half-hearted crooners to shame, and the Swede’s second full-length ‘To the Other’ proves to be as deeply occult as it is stubbornly traditional, offering an esoteric journey deep into the underworld through the unholy medium of hypnotic, dirge-like doom metal.
After a suitably draconian organ intro, the mammoth, dense riffery and creepy blues-driven licks of ‘ZazelSoreth’ instantly reveal Saturnalia Temple as devotees of doom metal in the Sabbathian vein, stripped-down, raw, and laden with thick distortion that evokes the genre’s devilish past and muddles the senses simultaneously. With the throatily rasped vocals spitting out lyrics with unintelligible malice echoing along over the meditative repetition of the music, the track takes on an esoteric nature only exacerbated by the vocal chant “Rise, Rise”, that eventually emerges from the mire to satisfyingly diabolical effect. This method of song-writing remains a constant throughout the album, with each track being focused around a particular spooky riff or imposing atmosphere, and through unhurried, measured structuring transforms them into a hypnotic and ominous portal of sound. Such an approach results in each tiny nuance or layered sound effect morphing into an evocative musical feature, and conversely turns each raw, uncluttered composition into a textured, immersive and cabbalistic soundscape, with the blues-imbued and oddly Western atmosphere of title track ‘To the Other’ being a perfect case in point.
The record’s impenetrable, fuzzed-out production values form an essential part of the listening experience, with the classic reverberation of guitars and plodding echo of the drums combining to lend the album an arcane authenticity in sound alone. Channel Saturnalia Temple’s classically-inspired song writing through this nostalgic recording medium and the result is an album that absolutely drips darkly mesmerizing, esoteric and occult atmosphere, and that is totally devoted to longstanding doom tradition of worshipping riffs and Satan. Although it might have emerged in 2015, ‘To the Other’ is immersed in the past, and demonstrates unequivocally how contemporary doom doesn’t have to be all about the trends to be captivating and creative.
The Anja Offensive
Releases April 7th, 2015
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