I don’t know why but I always view Doom as a bit of an afterthought when it comes to the bigger Metal genres, which is strange given the impact it has had through the likes of Black Sabbath. I’m no hater of the genre I just find the line between good and dull very thin. The good albums are absolutely incredible (generally) and the dull albums are well, just dull. Yet I think with my recent delving into the sounds of Phish and Grateful Dead have helped with my tolerance of endless riffs. Quite frankly my music taste is a mess, I’m happy to listen to Drone but Doom I can shrug off.
One band whom I hope not to be shrugging off are Saturnalia Temple a Swedish Stoner/ Doom outfit whose name has cropped up a few times in my endless Metal research. They formed back in 2006 with an ethos of injecting occultism into their Stoner/ Doom sound. I cannot say that their acclaim has been full of grandeur, but who needs the words of critics right? (I guess you do as you’re reading this). Anyway, we come today to plunge into Gravity the bands third full length which is put out through Listenable Records.
The droning introduction of Tordyvel I can appreciate, I enjoy the very dark ambience and it seems befitting to an album such as this. However, getting into the thick of it we come to the titular number Saturnalia Temple. The track is fairly atonal, save for a striking guitar solo, and vocally the track seldom strays from its one note abyss. However, I feel it works nicely, well as nicely as Doom can. It’s a relaxed yet set sound that delivers upon the brief of the band very well. Gravity is next to mix things up, bringing in unclean vocals and a heavier emphasis on keyboards the track is almost like a different band, and I think I prefer this version, and luckily it is this version which persists.
Transcending and seemingly still droning on comes Between The Worlds which is a beautiful track full of minimal yet impressive instrumentation on all parts, with special commendations being paid to the unique drum delivery. The atonal nature persists throughout, Oannes becoming another all out Doom crusher that simply hangs its head in an endless loop of keyboards and riffs, top quality Doom done right. The album finally closes with Alpha Drakonis another ambient piece which fits the release so well, a befitting and morbid ending.
At the albums inception I really couldn’t tell whether or not I was into it, but as the more Blackened portions became apparent and the monotonous repetition become a troupe I found myself more and more drawn into the experience of the record. Gravity has a sense of darkness about it which can certainly draw in fans from many backgrounds. I found a certain reminiscence towards Jam Band and Prog ideals as well as a certain appreciation of Drone in the vein of perhaps Om or Earth. This release might not be for everyone but I would say that it could act as some sort of gateway into other genres and even Doom itself.
(8/10 George Caley)