Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Record Review: Saturnalia Temple - 'Aion of Drakon'

First Posted at: No Clean Singing

‘Aion of Drakon’
Saturnalia Temple
[AJNA Offensive]

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 to get to do this really important thing. Desperation sets in and you feel hopelessly lost, the ground elevates around you and then you fall. Then there’s that stomach plunge feeling when you wake up and you literally jerk awake in the smallest moment of absolute terror.

Saturnalia Temple is the deluge of mud that surrounds your knees and forces you into a crawl. They tap that desperation and play on your astral paranoia, they channel the occult and 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 it’s that fleshy, bloody eye that pierces out from the record artwork, combined with the Liebling-esque echoed vocals that ricochets off the temple’s sonic walls that require a stranglehold of 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, and 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 the band themselves played it backwards to see if they can hear Satan himself speak.

These last few years there’s been this intriguing insurgency of occult themes in doom and retro rock, Saturnalia Temple is drenched in it and are among many others who too have drank from that well. 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 'Prince Caspian: The Return To Narnia' novel at a young age and it’s stuck with me as the bench mark of all things evil. It doesn’t sound likely, as it 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 Drakon is scary. 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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