Saturnalia Temple create black magick metal, psyche clouds on ominous, spacey ‘To the Other’

Saturnalia TempleI am not a user of mind-altering substances, unless we’re counting high ABV beer in the equation. If so, then I guess that first sentence is a lie. But what I’m really after is that I don’t partake in the types of things that generally help you think you’ve achieved some sort of great trip to another realm or plane. I’m good right here.

But I find certain bands can help you do with nothing other than their music. One that always does manage to catapult me through various levels of existence and worlds is Saturnalia Temple, a band that’s as challenging mentally as they are physically. And make no mistake: This is a damn heavy band in every sense of that description. But there is way more to their art than just pummeling, as you’re bound to find out on their great new record “To the Other.” Recorded in their own studio in the forests of Uppsala, Sweden, it feels like the band took to lying on the ground, staring at the stars, and remaining there until all of the galaxies started to spin and mix together. The band’s melding of doom, sludge, stoner, black metal, and psychedelics helps create their colorful world and transport the listener to another place, where you’ll be happy to stay for the fully captivating 48 minutes this band unfurls on their second full-length effort.

Saturnalia Temple coverThe band labels its sound “black magick metal,” and that feels like a pretty accurate description from experiencing their music over the years. Thematically, what they stab at here feels pretty universal from a metal standpoint–the destruction of the world and individuals fighting back against the forces that be in the name of individuality. The band itself—Tommie on vocals and guitar, bassist Peter, and their U.S. live drummer Tim Call pulverizing the kit—feels cosmically aligned, pumping out dark energy and fiery riffs that will get inside you and connect with your darkest inhibitions. Or translated, it’s just a great, dark slab of muddy metal that will go down just right.

The record kicks off with an eerie, ambient introduction piece that trickles right into “ZazelSorath,” a sludge-heavy, imposing track that brings the riffs and pounds you over the head with them. There are warped, damaged guitar parts intertwined with the music, echoey growls that make the messages feel as if they’re being delivered telepathically, and shouts of, “Rise!” that plod along with the drubbing. The title cut has a clean, yet slurry start, and then powerful guitar lines catch fire and burn over top. The growls are creaky and chilling, with the melodies feeling soulful and jarring and a dusty Western sense making its presence know, whether or not that was intended. The band hits a deep trance state, with guitar lines repeating over and over again, causing your pupils to turn to swirls and causing you to fall into a mental abyss. The final moments are psychedelically warped and leave you grasping for a sense of understanding. “Show of Reason” has a pushy, numbing tempo, beating on you again, with the vocals coming off like gruff warnings. A serious dose of buzzing sets in, with the riffs mashing everything in sight, like the band is some sort of intergalactic Black Sabbath, and the madness continues its relentless nature until it finally fades into the night.

“March of Gha’agsheblah” is a mouthful to say, and it begins with massive guitar work that feels humid and mighty, and the vocals sounding like they’re being delivered by a detached monster. The song blisters and boils for the most part, but it also has its psychedelic angles. But the main story behind this one is the relentless trudging they carry out, leaving the ground battered behind them. “Black Sea of Power” has dizzying guitar work, further pounding that carries over from the song before it, and deranged, echo-rich growling that sounds terrifying. The doom hammer is swung heavily on this one, with a bit of melody sneaking into the picture and the background as the song fades into the fog. “Crowned With Seven” is charged up, feeling like an early High on Fire song at times, and the thrashy, mucking assault is balanced by noises that sound like they’ve traveled here from bizarre worlds far away. This is a chugging, punishing cut that definitely leaves bruises. Closer “Void” is strange when it enters the room, with alien guitars floating, spacious pockets of sound, and hypnotic, swirling melodies that mesmerize. The playing easily can help create visions in your mind, and once you’re in the state of daydream, the whole thing plunges deep under the black sea, drowning out the sound, only to resurface for mere moments before it fizzles out like static spit.

Saturnalia Temple’s dark energy never has been stronger, and “To the Other” finds them truly coming into their own as a magnificent force. This collection is engaging, mesmerizing, and powerfully heavy, and there are no down moments on this massive beast. This thing is a nightmare-inducing crusher that will take you to other realms and leave you wondering where exactly you exist.

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