Damn, this has taken quite some time… The last Saturnalia Temple recording was released five years ago. That one, called To The Other, saw the light via one of the oldest Metal labels from French soil, Listenable Records, and it is the very same label that takes care of Saturnalia Temple’s newest full-length studio album, Gravity. It’s available via the modern digital sources, as well as on vinyl (12”LP) and compact disc (digipack).
The Swedish trio (drummer Kennet Granholm, vocalist / guitarist Tommie Eriksson and bassist Peter Karlsson) gathered eight new songs under the Gravity banner, which is a concept, and I’ll quote, of Saturn in alchemy enables existence through distance and separation, allowing man to reach the magical goals and the total separation of Kaivalya and personal divinity. […] Unwanted influences and energies are allowed to fall away by themselves simply by one moving in the accurate path. Somehow it does refer to Every Man And Woman Is A Star by Aleister Crowley (Liber AL Vel Legis aka The Book Of Law).
This third full-length album has a total running time of almost fifty minutes. Gravity starts with a short (01:58) yet extremely enthralling intro, Tordyvel, which is as bleak as it is claustrophobic. Yet as from then on, the album brings that characteristic approach of Doom with a hypnotic touch of psychedelia. The spine of the tracks is constructed around an ultimately heavy, powerful string section, with monolithic guitar and bass riffs, and mesmerizing leads. Slowly yet unstoppably marching forward, these colossal melodies are as arduous as they are disturbing.
The melodic construction gets fiercely supported by a simple yet efficient rhythm section. The drum patterns are rumbling, and the background string section make the whole experience even onerous and oppressive. Burdensome, the result goes astray in tangle or turmoil.
Absolutely characteristic are the solos (see further) and the voices. When it comes to the latter, the vocal part of the game, well, then a psychotropic, hallucinogenic attitude overwhelms the listener. Okay, the experimental mix does surely influence the psilocybin approach, yet still the monotonous, little conjuring ‘clean’ chants in their bare and reverberating existence, simply intoxicate the audience’s subconsciousness. Besides those clean and harmonious vocals, many parts come, in the vein of the past, with harsher, almost ‘blackened’ screams - which are, to my (mostly interesting) opinion, truly exciting and enthralling. Take the title track, for example, with these fabulous bass lines and spellbinding organs / synths, accompanying us to a gloomy dimension where dark powers overrule sense and insight.
The solos too impose, as stated in the former paragraph. They are (unfortunately) limited in amount, yet all the more they are remarkably fitting and captivating too into the sludgy concept. In an embroiling way, these guitar solos are just like pinpointed at the most fitting moments. Yet one might think that it is a pity, the fact that these solos are so rare.
A last word on the sound quality. The production is ultimately crude, even coarse, haggard. Especially that lead guitar sound is like an industrialized machine on acid and rabies (seriously). Listen to a piece like Elyzian Fields and discover the unpolished machinery driving through. The vintage approach (there are a lot of Seventies elements, going for both song writing + performance, as well as the sound) gets caused by the use of ‘ancient’ equipment and instruments. The mix focuses on balance, and then I am referring to the equilibrium in between all instruments and voices. This does strengthen the massiveness of this sonic journey for sure. And that industrial touch somehow reappears regularly, but comes to its peak in the mighty outro Alpha Drakonis, a truly worthy and appropriate closing piece to Gravity in its totality.