24 August 2012
by Tom Dare
If you’re going to go for something, it’s best to go at it as hard as possible. If you’re going to be half-arsed or hesitant, people will notice. If you’re self-aware and embarrassed, the audience will hear it. But if you’re fully conscious that what you’re trying to do is over-the-top, theatrical, and going to be mocked by some, but embrace it simply because you think it’s awesome, you might just pull it off. Saturnian certainly seem to think this is the best tactic.
Saturnian’s stylistic touchstones are fairly obvious: Keep Of Kalessin’s melodic, fiery black metal riff attack with the odd whiff of Emperor wrapped up in the bombastic, grandiose and ever-so-slightly/very camp symphonics of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth. And while the symphonic shtick has been done often enough (usually very badly) to make casual listeners quickly lose interest, the KoK-esque part is one of the two main reasons Saturnian sound fresh and exciting – the second being that they do it really fucking well.
Far too often symphonics in metal – and this is particularly so with black metal – are used as window dressing to cover up a chronic deficiency in guitar ideas. And like a crumbling wall that’s had lashings of paint to disguise it – it doesn’t address the fundamental problems, and eventually it collapses under its own weight. But Saturnian’s base in the guitars is very strong. The fierce six-string attack is interesting enough on its own to hold the more flowery stuff aloft, allowing them to blossom, and the creativity in the strings, choirs and lilting female vocals is far more than mere cosmetics.
‘Origins Of The Future‘ provides a case in point, slowly rising guitars echoed by a big hook in the choirs that rises with the chord progressions. The title track sees a lyrical lead guitar line give way to galloping strings and yet another choral hook. ‘Shadow Of Prophecy‘ opens in those gorgeous female vocals before Hans Zimmer-esque strings come in, until eventually the metallic roar takes over. It’s all produced with just enough shine and clarity to allow this huge mix of sounds to come across without losing the necessary bite.
There’s no doubt the fantastical, futuristic atmosphere is unashamed melodrama, and that’s why it works. Dimensions is wildly, cape-swirlingly demonstrative, and proud of it. There’s no knowing little wink to the audience that breaks its spell, there’s no fear that you’ll miss the point, and there’s no reservation. Maybe that’s why it’s so engaging. Either that, or because the riffs are shit hot, the hooks are big and only a truly miserable sod won’t be grinning like an idiot by the end of track two.
Sounds like: Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Keep Of Kalessin.
Stand-out tracks: Eternal Eclipse, Shadow Of Prophecy, Origins Of The Future.