Saturnus The storm within

Saturnus - The Storm Within


The melancholy men from Denmark are back with a new album of brooding, contemplative, and very melodic Doom Metal six years since the last record and thirty years after their inception. The heavy placid and wonderful melodies are impossible not to be touched by, they dig deep through your inner self and lure you into reflection and contemplation.

Saturnus came drifting into the Doom Metal genre opening with birdsong on their first album in 1997, Paradise Belongs to You and has since then kept their vision of how to make Melodic Doom Metal even with numerous personnel changes. Saturnus is the black rose of Doom Metal and they never disappoint.

Saturnus can easily open an album with the two longest songs, clocking in at eleven minutes each and getting away with it because the songs are so carefully constructed and developed into wonderful pieces of introspective music seeping with wonder, reflection, and yearning as they shift between growling vocals and soft-spoken words. An album title like The Storm Within would suggest some tumultuous sludgy screamo-swirling music. But, of course, it is not. It is an hour-long contemplation over the upcoming storm inside your soul - thus the album opens with a distant rainy thunderstorm on the title track.

The hallmarks of their music strike you at once and you realize how much you have missed new material from them. Especially for one like me who constantly reaches for their back catalog. After the opening thunderstorm on the first track, a strumming clean guitar opens the song, a soft layered light keyboard is searching for a melody and a choir rises above the synths, while the drums take their first steps as the instruments gather to form a melodic theme before the surge of the heavy riffing guitars fills the soundscape dripping with light tones from the keyboards. Deep growling vocals take over and eventually, one of the guitars breaks out and plays the melody beside the dense slow sound from the rest of the band. As the music simmers down, a soft reflective voice begins to speak surrounded by sound effects until a riffing crescendo lifts the song and the growling is back. The solo guitar returns soaring with the melody along with the vocals.

The second song, ”Chasing Ghosts” has the same shifts between heavy riffs and extended atmospheric intervals after a clear clean guitar opens the track with strumming in the background. The surge comes slow and submerges the silent brooding with elongated riffs and the long takes on the solo guitar contrasting the growls. There is a sense of urgency in the next song ”The Calling” which makes a delightful contrast to the two previous songs. Heavy riffs, fast drums, and an urgent higher-pitched guitar pave the way for an intense start of the acute vocals accompanied by the ever-present melodic higher-pitched solo guitar. The bass guitar has some great moments in this song and the guitar shifts into fuzzy mode playing along with the occasional growls before it finds a melodic theme to drive the song forward with the deep growling.

In the middle of the album, there is this slow musing song called “Even Tide” with guest vocals from Paul Kuhr of Novembers Doom. It is performed with soft chords from the piano, cello, and synths are playing downcast and contemplating as the vocals are taking the pensiveness further with its slowed desponded singing. The track serves on the album like the “Adagietto” in Mahler´s 5th Symphony or ”Fluff” on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath as it shows a band not afraid of taking their music towards other avenues than pure riff-based doom.

The song spills over into ”Closing the Circle” taking the lead from the subdued previous song leading with synths and keys introducing a strumming guitar before the deep-end bass sets the heaviness and the speaking voice takes us toward slow and heavy riffs. The drums hold back the pace with the cymbals as the growling underlines the heavy somber sense the song reeks of. The reflective speaking voice comes back as a higher-pitched guitar comments on the voice with somber elongated takes on the strings and brings some light to the dense darkness the song reeks of.

The album closes with two songs that contrast each other ”Breathe New Life” and ”Truth” - the first one opens with a hard hitting rhythm section and heavy riffing with a solo guitar at a faster pace, but still safe within the doom pace of things. The growling and dense sound is underlined by bursts of piano chords before it turns into the melodic chorus. The song floats effortlessly along the path laid out by the heavy riffs shifting between high-pitched guitar, growling, and piano to insert the melodic theme that dominate the song between the choruses. The last song, ”Truth” is a bit of a contrast as it opens with some smooth and slow piano tunes step by step embellishing the sound further and further, and then is joined by hushed drumsticks and the bass guitar before the soft-spoken voice appears with synths floating around it. Somewhere at the three minutes mark the drums forebode a change in the song’s modus as it hammers in and the riffs rise to meet the growling vocals while the piano still lingers on to lighten the timbre of the now-heavy song. Toward the end, the song changes pace with long takes on the riffs and shifts between spoken words and growling. There is a slow build-up with dominating synths joining in before the song simmers down and an acoustic guitar and piano end the album.

It is quite an effort that Saturnus manages with every release to turn this heavy and dense genre of metal music into a mellow and inspiring listening even when it is filled with somber themes.