(Gaia [ex-TNOTB] returns to our site with a review of the new album by Saturnalia Temple.)
Aion of Drakon
1. God is Two
2. Black Magic Metal
3. Aion of Drakon
4. Ancient Sorceries
5. Sitra Ahra Ruled Solitary Before Creation
Have you ever had that dream where it’s really urgent and really important to get somewhere, but things are holding you back? Cobwebs, mud, vines, family members, waves crashing down on you; you spend your strength fighting off and fighting through it all to get to do this really important thing. Desperation sets in, and you feel hopelessly lost, the ground elevates around you, and you fall. Then there’s that stomach-plunge feeling, and you literally jerk awake in a moment of absolute terror.
Saturnalia Temple are the deluge of mud that surrounds your knees and forces you into a crawl. They tap into that feeling of desperation and play on your astral paranoia; they channel the occult, raise their altars and pillars, and summon the beasts in the forests. They tether you down, they plunge their knife, then you wake in terror.
I am hopelessly lost in this record. I think it’s the tone. Or perhaps it’s that fleshy, bloody eye that pierces out from the record artwork, combined with the Liebling-esque echoed vocals that ricochet off the temple’s sonic walls, that exert a stranglehold on my attention. The tone, though, is pretty cool. It’s in that obscure middle ground between Kyuss and Sunn o))), perhaps leaning closer to the latter. Saturnalia Temple show in places, mainly the last two cuts, the dexterity of Kyuss’s robot-riffing, but in the palm of Sunn o)))’s crushing fist.
Where Saturnalia Temple truly succeed is in their celebration of HUGE drone, doom riffing. ‘Black Magic Metal’ hypnotizes as it churns and rolls and folds the listener into its warm, liquid-metal state, hardened by the echoed occult rock vocals of a Pentagramical persuasion.
The title track sees Saturnalia Temple utilize an interesting echo/repetition effect on the main riff and sounds almost as if it’s played backwards. I like to think that it’s so evil-sounding that the band themselves played it backwards to see if they could hear Satan himself speak. These last few years there’s been an intriguing insurgency of occult themes in doom and retro rock, and among others who have drunk from that well, Saturnalia Temple have drenched themselves in it. It’s interesting, but I fear it may wear thin in the coming years. We’ll see what Electric Wizard do next, then guess the next trend.
Anyway, the pillars in Aion of Drakon’s artwork in hand with the esoteric music itself reminded me of possibly one of the most malevolent pieces of writing I’ve read, from the unexpected source of C.S Lewis. I remember reading the Werewolf’s speech from the novel Prince Caspian: The Return To Narnia at a young age, and it’s stuck with me as the benchmark of all things evil. It doesn’t sound likely, as the novel is a children’s book and C.S Lewis was entirely un-evil, but bear with me:
‘I’m hunger. I’m thirst. Where I bite, I hold till I die, and even after death they must cut out my mouthful from my enemy’s body and bury it with me. I can fast for a hundred years and not die. I can lie a hundred nights on the ice and not freeze. I can drink a river of blood and not burst. Show me your enemies.’
Reading that and listening to Aion of Darkness are scary experiences. It is important for the music we listen to to invoke such reactions and emotions, to stir something within us, like a dream that can induce our innermost horrifics. Sometimes a good record should scare us a little.
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