Saturnian Mist have, over a relatively short space of time, developed a fairly unique and intense take on black metal. It was evident on their early stuff back in 2009 that they were pushing into something more individual than the average band had to offer. By 2011’s Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan it had become even more focused and was already evolving nicely into the rather horrid thing it has become. It’s only with Chaos Magick that the band has burst forth into the toxic force it has become and which has now been unleashed on the soft underbelly of an unsuspecting world. A feeling of looseness and almost freeform in parts while maintaining the lethal rigidity and focus of previous efforts. It’s not that this is a world away from some of their Finnish black metal brethren. But this is thrash-laden and more aggressively muscular than a lot of black metal – heavy and oppressive like hands wrapping around your windpipe – while still managing to uphold that vital, seething control.
At times, Saturnian Mist specialise in an almost skeletal sound that is so stripped-down at times you can almost hear the scraps of joining tissue holding it all together as it clatters and whines with effort and tension. No wall-of-sound shoe-gazing here. Just a grim, instantly cold and threatening vision that has little to do with anything you might describe as human in nature. There’s a thumping bass line, a lead guitar that would give a normal human brain a migraine within seconds and which sometimes confines itself to only a handful of chords. The vocals are also pretty stunning too and, with the manic drums, round off a sound that hurls evil intent from all directions. A little bit punk, undoubtedly – some of the songs are delivered like a short, sharp punch – with all those sparsely selected chords and hurtling velocity (listen to last year’s single The True Law – which provided a warning shot for what was to follow on this album). And when it’s all wrapped together, this horrible and ugly sound is capable of building up into something magical.
The most basic tracks, such as Voodoo Satan, offer something filled with the pure rush of negative emotion. That alone would have been enough to seal this is a decent album with its corpse painted head and shoulders well above the rest. But the band also seem to have developed the ability to kick things up a notch, and maybe even then another after that, and into something even more intense. So, each time you wonder whether you’ve heard it all, things can subtly develop into a raging monster or else a fantastic soundscape of heady heathen incantations. It’s difficult to find instant comparisons – but there are several other fantastic Finnish bands like Carnal Wind that will probably serve as decent starting points and perhaps the heavy tribal pulse of Varathron.
But the overtones are like black metal overload with the dark anti-Christian vibe mixed with the magic of eastern demigod and demons. The album reaches a building intensity before a pause for breath. Then the last four tracks provide a final suit that allows Saturnian Mist to explore in more unstitched detail what they’ve been doing for the previous nine. I’ve heard a lot of bands that lose their way at this point, relaxing the tension a little too much and spoiling the momentum by diffusing the pace. But here the intensity barely lifts for a heartbeat as the band use all the black forces at their disposal to weave a dark and ritualistic opus. This is powerful and impressive from almost every angle of its twisted form. Saturnian Mist have pulled something incredible from out of their collective minds – and what despicable and dark places they must be.
(9/10 Reverend Darkstanley)