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Saturnus : Saturn in Ascension

Saturnus are still playing the music we've been accustomed to, but somehow they managed to put more emotion and spirit in this new effort.

To be perfectly honest with our readers, I need to admit that Saturnus is far from my favourite band. From their previous material, 'Veronika Decides to Die', I could see some value in the opening track, ‘I Long’, and the very last one, ‘Murky Waters’. The rest I found rather dull and uninspired, almost verging on the “easy listening” edge of Doom Death, mostly because the Danes have this awful tendency to overproduce everything to the point where it becomes so smooth that it leaves nothing to cling onto. So, I probably wasn’t the best person to review their latest album: 'Saturn in Ascension'.

Still, I decided to give this new offering the few spins it deserved to write an honest review and here I find myself entangled in it, and despite the initial distrust the damn record won’t leave the player! So, what happened? Did six years change Saturnus into an altogether different beast? Should fans of the “previous” era fear for what’s to come?

The answers will, surprisingly, be negative. Saturnus are still playing the music we've been accustomed to, but somehow they managed to put in the extra emotion and spirit of which their previous recordings were devoid. Much like on 'Veronika Decides to Die', the best tracks are the first and last ones - ‘Litany of Rain’ and ‘Between' - but, to my surprise, this time the rest are not just filler songs which you are bound to forget once heard. ‘Litany of Rain' is near perfect, building sweet and sour dynamics made fantastic when, at mid-song, the angelic and quite religious chorus comes and shake your foundations with a great inspired guitar solo. When it comes to musicianship, Saturnus show all their skills and this time not only for the sake of showing off but to make the songwriting richer. Another jewel may be found in the sweetly romantic 'Call of the Raven Moon' with its acoustic body, the talent of Jensen - whether he is growling his way into the coffin or delivering beautiful spoken words - and the addition of an eerie flute in the background.

In the past, the band somehow got labelled "Doom Death for teens", as if preying on young depressed girls. And although a few songs, namely the ones I just mentioned, could still fit in this category, Saturnus have added the extra depth which makes a track not only appealing to the taste for beauty but to more primal emotions. They even took this a bit further with tracks like ‘A Father’s Providence’ and ‘Between’, injecting in them a sense of maturity and, almost, a violence I wouldn’t think they’d be capable of. If ‘Between’ is more of an epic track with many ups and downs and various moods, ‘A Father’s Providence’ is definitely the most aggressive song featured on this latest album. Somehow it reminded me of Excruciation’s '[t]horns', which showed that Doom Death can be at times grave and serious as age takes its toll on all of us. Which certainly makes you wonder what six years (as it took between Veronika Decides to Die' and this) can bring to a man. Or take away from him.

The cherry on the cake will only be available for those who will purchase either the vinyl- or the digipack edition of 'Saturn in Ascension': the band decided to include a track dating back to their very first demo released in 1994. They wouldn't be Saturnus if somehow they hadn't remastered the song before putting it on as a bonus track (haha!) but you'll be surprised at how much the Danish Doom giant has changed. At the time they were playing Doom Death which could be compared to My Dying Bride's early material (demo and debut) with a definite Death Metal feel to it and lacking anything remotely romantic. It really feels as if you were listening to a totally different band and this will make you wonder what would have happened if Saturnus had chosen the least-travelled road!

Anyhow, despite inborn reticence and a strong preconceived feeling that I wouldn’t enjoy any of this, it does turn out that Saturnus’ latest offering has not only blown away such initial thoughts but myself, at the same time. Considering I've played this record at least twice everyday since I received it, I won't pretend it didn't affect me just because some über-elites would look down at Saturnus. 'Saturn in Ascension' is indeed a great album: if you previously were a fan of the band, you'll just think it got even better; and if you, like me, were not a convinced devotee, 'Litany of Rain' will certainly make you a believer.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Litany of Rain
2. Wind Torn
3. A Lonely Passage
4. A Father’s Providence
5. Mourning Sun
6. Call of the Raven Moon
7. Forest of Insomnia
8. Between

Bonus track (digipack/ LP edition)
9. Limbs of Crystal Clear

Duration : Approx. 76 minutes

Visit the Saturnus bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-11-20 by Frederic Cerfvol
Aesthetic Death
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