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Rings of Saturn was a band that definitely didn't grip me right away. I had listened to a small bit of their first album, and could not get into it at all. I viewed them as some random gimmick band trying way too hard to look cool with their crazy technical riffs. It wasn't until a few months later that I decided to check them out again, to see if any of their other albums were any better. So I listened to this one, and holy shit, it totally surprised me. It did take a few moments of steady listening to really get it, but once I did, I was totally hooked.
The vocals on this album are fantastic and fit the music very well. Ian delivers disgusting lows packed with power, while also supplying wicked highs. He is also able to switch between the vocal styles very quickly, utilizing his full capability. The drums on this album are insane, and give the music much more strength. The drummer is able to dispense some of the fastest blast bleats I have ever heard, so much so that it can honestly get a little annoying if you focus on the drums too much in these sections. In addition to this, the drummer gives very intense fills and slows down when he needs to, giving the other instruments a bit more breathing room.
The real highlight of this album is the guitars. The guitars on this album are fucking great and switch between a lot of different styles and sounds throughout the album, it really shows you how versatile the instrument is. The guitars are mainly doing one of two things, they're either playing insanely technical riffs that show great skill and ability, or they're performing fantastic slower riffs that make you want to nod your head. The guitars also tend to switch to a clean tone at times and slow down a bit, providing an absolutely beautiful sound. We're also treated to the occasional solo, these either sound otherworldly with an insanely fast, or alien sound (hah), or sound magnificent with a slower, melodic sound to them. If you want an idea of how great the guitars on this album are, just listen to the instrumental track "Utopia", it provides the guitar's full range of sounds on the album, definitely one of the best tracks on the record. The guitars do have some flaws, though. Sometimes, they may play a chug riff that's extremely slow and fucking boring, luckily, they are quickly dropped and they go back to playing their usual, impressive stuff.
Overall, I'd say that this is a outstanding record that is definitely worth more than just a few listens. The musicianship and talent here is superb and shows great technical ability and sounds. While the album might have a few downsides here and there, these are quickly forgotten and overlooked by the tremendous song writing and riffs present on this record. Everything has great power and flow, and I'd definitely recommend this to a friend or anyone wanting to get into technical metal.
Did you know that these very same musicians who allegedly don't even play their instruments at normal speeds also asked for the mind-boggling amount of a flaming 900 dollars for one vinyl? Not even Steppenwolf, Cream or even Black Sabbath would get my mind set into skipping some KFC artery-clogging marathons that I thoroughly enjoy and go the extra mile at work to gather the aforementioned amount of money and purchase such incredibly expensive souvenir. What makes them think that anyone with the smallest hint of a neuron inside their brain would possibly consider burning nine-hundred bucks just to get a shiny disc that will most likely have absolutely no resale value after one or two years? (remember that tech-death band from the 2010's who played at half-speed, what was the name again? Moons Of Saturn? Jupiter?)
Now now, let's justify this mini rant with the actual music, presented by the guys from Rings of Saturn on "Dingir". When Embryonic Anomalies came out, one could not believe that a technical deathcore band could actually harness such a thick and sludgy tone oozing out of their instruments. Almost reminded me of good ol' Mortician, but with much more watered-down sounding riffs, densely repetitive parts and a louder drum mix but at least, at least one could get a bit of entertainment when your neighbors were obligated to digest Lucas Mann's guitar work. Dingir brings you more of the very same formulaic aspects: ultra-melodic parts followed by breakdowns followed by more melodic parts followed by more breakdowns, soft-sounding riffs and a loud drum mix. The lyrics are as silly as before and everything else is very similar as well. So what makes Dingir so different than the not so abnormal embryo that was the previous album, apart from the even more dull vocals and the fact that now the bass is at least very audible (at parts)? The absolute lack of a decent metal tone.
Seriously, what happened to the massive crunch? Couldn't they at least turn up their noise gate gauge to two or three? Also you can get a Boss Metal-Core pedal at Walmart for like $200. Hell, even if it was $2000, a whooping sale of ten of your expensive collector's edition albums would cover it no problem. Dingir's guitar sound is too gimmicky to be enjoyed even as a joke. It's so bland that Lady Gaga could use it on her next hit single. I don't mind that much when a musician fakes his or her musical talent, as long as you could get a decent tune out of it. But damn it, those sweeps are so damn high and annoying, it's like buying your kid a new Leapfrog instrument and having to sit through his whole concert of doodling around with high notes. At some point, if your child happens to be musically gifted, he or she'll get better and play one or two catchy notes. The very same happens with Dingir; they definitely know their music, so they eventually end up playing memorable riffs at the end of some of the songs.
You know? I think that I've got to a point in which computerized drums don't bother me at all. Half speed or not, the drumming sounds quite good. You could probably replace him with a copy of Superior Drummer with The Metal Foundry, but the sound is still very enjoyable. Nice blast beating, very well mixed double bass, the toms have an excellent sound and the cymbals sound overall good. I just wish they ditched all those skank beats. If the soft sounding guitars aren't enough to make the whole "alien" atmosphere disappear, just listen to the skank beats here and there. They'll just throw you back to earth and remind you that it's just a bunch of rich people with instruments pretending to sound like they came from Saturn.
And speaking of anti-atmospheric sounds, I know that there is just so much you can do with vocals when it's deathcore, but you should at least try something different than something a bazillion bands have already done in the past and differ a bit by, I don't know, some gurgling, squealing, snarling. Even some falsetto vocals or something! Also, no matter how processed the yells sound, the monster from outer space never comes in to your mind when listening to them. You just picture a rather tedious studio session and the studio booth itself, due to the growls being so boring and the high shrieks being so annoying. One can easily hear when the guy takes a huge breath to spit in the next vocal part, which sounds too... well, too human. I mean, the guy clearly has a very good technique for standard deathcore, a la Carnifex or Suicide Silence. But even Big Chocolate (that hipsterish looking guy from Disfiguring The Goddess) who is in a much more simplified project of slam death metal with intentionally cheesy keyboard parts sounds much more like an extraterrestrial being most of the time. At first I was even convinced that Phil Bozeman was doing vocals on Dingir, since both vocalists sound pretty much identical.
Like I already mentioned, you can hear the bass in a much clearer way in some parts. Especially at the high notes. And the tone they used for it actually makes the cut in sounding nice and appealing. It's just that, well, if the guitar department sounded at least a little bit more aggressive, it would make justice to all the effort that the bassist puts forth.
To sum up what I thought about Dingir when listening to it, three points:
1-Sounds catchy at parts but rather average
2-Doesn't sound alien at all
3-It's soft as fuck
You should definitely not avoid it at all costs, though. I think it was worth the $15 I paid for it and if you listen to it enough times, a very special taste will be developed and you might even be able to enjoy it. Just don't go crazy and buy their $900 piece, 'cause it will be like throwing $885 directly into a raging volcano.
Starting with what sounds like the beginning to every Unique Leader Records release since 2005 (being lenient here) chuggy tek-deaf/deafkore with processed gurgling vocals, you would be led to believe this is just another dime a dozen tek-deaf release. Then half a minute later, the random sweeping over family friendly chord progressions that sound borrowed from the screamo/post-hardcore genre (the instrumental track at the end is full of this) rear their ugly head followed by the stock standard deafkore "breakdown" that interchangeable bands like Whitechapel use on every album (songs more than likely). This formula is repeated ad nauseum in songs that have barely any structure sans a repeated part here or there on an album which sounds like it was made on a 3D printed Mac Book. That's all this album is in a nutshell.
The "fast" parts are happy scale runs over triggered blasts before jock-culture oriented breakdown parts chug in like loud bowel movements. The sweeps, which are the main focus here, sound like random combinations of Megaman X soundtrack song fragments made to sound as obnoxious as possible through over-demonstration to appeal to the Necrophagist generation. What differentiates this release from others of this tek-deaf/deafkore style? Nothing. It might as well be Abiotic or The Faceless, from the "great musicianship, clueless and hardly metal" songcraft to the cheesy sci-fi comic lyrics (also the totally on purpose non-metal image they put forth in their promo pics). The only positive thing I can say is that the band put this vapid slop for free on Youtube so no one needs to try too hard to find out how atrocious this is (not that I recommend doing so). Avoid.
Rings of Saturn is one of those bands that are pretty polarizing amongst metal fans. You either love em or you hate em. Either way, you can't deny that they boast a fairly unique sound. They combine technical guitar wankery with groovy deathcore riffing and the assistance of a pitch-shift petal, which all together gives the band the weird alien sound they're going for. I'm not one for overly technical bands, but Rings of Saturn manage to pull the wankfest brand of tech death off remarkably well. Their first album, Embryonic Anomaly, was quite good, but suffered from an odd sounding mix and a bit too much of the blistering sweeps n shit. This time around, they've refined their sound.
For their sophomore release, the band has retained the same sound as before, but the songwriting is definitely a step up. There's a slightly noticeable focus more on melody. Take the song Utopia for example. It perfectly showcases the band's ability to write some pretty stellar stuff (ba-dum tss). It's the familiar Rings of Saturn sound, but they decided to apply the brakes a bit with this one. Instead of the dizzying speed you hear on the rest of the album, this time they slow down and take a really jazzy and melodic twist on their normal approach. What you get is a song that's both technically impressive and surprisingly beautiful. I'm only using it as an example because the whole album is littered with Utopia moments, much more so than their previous album. Of course, you've also go the insane pitch-shifted shredding that tends to turn people off the band. I hear them compared to Brain Drill quite often because of the shredding bits, but I think that's an unfair comparison. The way Rings of Saturn shred fits with their style, and they take the time to slow down and try other stuff. It's organized chaos mixed with more level headed moments. Brain Drill just fuck around. It's also worth mentioning that this album has quite a bit of variety to it. They'll go from a damn near epileptic wanky passage, to a groovy riff, then to a melodic section. It's like a death metal buffet: you get a little bit of everything. There are also some pretty tasty riffs here and there, such as the ones in Galactic Cleansing and Faces Imploding. All in all, it's a great album from a musical and technical standpoint.
Another high point of the album is its atmosphere. For a technical deathcore album, it has quite a lot of atmosphere. It really makes me picture the alien planets and invasions spoken of in the lyrics. They sprinkle dark ambient bits and keyboard melodies here and there to great effect. It varies from dark and brooding (Shards of Scorched Flesh) to somewhat brighter (going back to Utopia again). I love music with good atmosphere, and Dingir definitely succeeds in that department.
I should also talk about two other improvements over the first album in addition to the improvement of their sound. First off is the mix. Embryonic Anomaly sounded like it was recorded with a fucking pillow. It's all muddy and muffled. Dingir is a huge step in the right direction. Every single instrument is audible, and it never feels like the band members are fighting to be heard. It's also really really loud. The drumming packs a hell of a punch, having a really big spot in the mix. The lower end notes on the guitars during riffs and breakdowns also really punch your ears in the face. The first word I'd use to describe the album is "boomy". I really don't know how to explain that. It just sounds boomy. The second improvement is the vocals. I don't have a real lot to say about them other than they sound better. They have a new vocalist, and while the first one was good, I think the new guy simply sounds better. He's got some impressive lows and really gnarly highs. It fits with the band's sound a bit more than what Vocalist Mark I was doing.
All in all, Dingir is a big step up from Embryonic Anomaly. It's good technically, it's good musically, and all in all, is really fucking fun to listen to.
Favorite songs: Shards of Scorched Flesh, Faces Imploding, Hyperforms, Utopia
Rings of Saturn is the perfect portrayal of what's wrong with deathcore and so-called technical death metal nowadays.
The very first thing I notice, listening to any and all Rings Of Saturn track is the absolute lack of emotion in their music. It's blend, lifeless and mechanical. Mechanical is the keyword here. Somehow, with time it seems that we've lost the essence of death metal in this pseudo tech death metal/deathcore. Death metal is a genre that always left room for technicality by its very essence. The genre it seems, was designed in a way that left much room for musicians like Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse or Olivier Gabriel from Benighted to play more complex and difficult forms of death metal. But then, we have guys like Rings Of Saturn or the infamous Braindrill... and these guys... well, they know how to write and play technical stuff. So much that it seems to take the whole space in their song-writing process. Some bands use technicality to play music, while some use music to play technicality. And let's just say that these guys belong to the second group.
What makes their music lifeless, boring and mechanical is basically the fact that they have abandoned the essence of death metal, or just any kind of "extreme metal". The brutality, the aggressivity, the raw emotions... they should be felt in the music. To understand what I'm trying to explain, let's compare bands like Benighted with Rings Of Saturn. Benighted is the kind of band that will start, stop, break in the middle of a riff, change tempo quickly, change the general feeling of the track suddenly, etc. to make the listener feel something, to get some kind of emotion, some kind of ambiance to flow through. Rings Of Saturn, they start, stop, change the tempo, do a breakdown, start sweeping in the middle of a riff, etc. but it never seems to accomplish anything, for there is no variation, no depth, no emotion in their music. It feels just like if these guys use distortion, death growls, heavy breakdowns not for the ambiance and feeling it provides to music, but because that's just what tech death bands do. They are brutal, technical and they growl... but in the end... there is no hook, no sudden breakdown, no tempo change that will make you feel anything.
This record is a patchwork of random ideas thrown in together. Almost every single section could be taken and placed somewhere else and it would feel exactly the same. Let's take the track Immaculate Order just to demonstrate. It starts with a rather descent melodic riff that goes on for almost 30 seconds with a little variation when the vocals jump in. But then, there is a little bridge to the next section, which is basically just a demonstration of random sweeping that ends with a silly generic breakdown mixed in with lifeless deathcore growls. There is no kind of logic as to what is where and when. Every once in a while they remind you that you are still listening to the same song by playing one of the riffs again.
This modern technical death metal/deathcore trend also comes with a way to produce the music. It tries very hard to be brutal, heavy, sound thick and badass like Meshuggah and all the djent kids. But like anything that is done mechanically, without emotional involvement or creativity, it sounds plastic and fake.
These musicians do have enough talent to put together some interesting riffs, I will give them that. And strangely, some of their best moments are when they go for more melodic like in the instrumental track Utopia at the end of the album, or even during brief moments throughout the album. Utopia is the only track that seems to have logical starting and ending points, with a progression. Maybe having their vocalist shut the fuck up for a few minutes helped them focus on writing music, I don’t know. Utopia still comes in too late to save Dingir from being just another forgettable piece of the growingly more boring history of technical deathcore. Having a few good riffs scattered here and there also isn’t my idea of a good album.
Saturn must be offended, really. Not only is the music uninteresting and lifeless, but I still fail to see what’s the link between this boring mechanical mess they call technical deathcore and space. This is definitely not how I imagine my trip through space. Kubrick took me to Jupiter and beyond. I do hope that Dingir is not what awaits us on Saturn.
Because technical death metal is more of classifier within a subgenre than an actual subgenre itself, tech-death bands tend to vary a lot in the actual root style the riffing is based off of. Brutal death metal, early 90's Floridian death metal, modern Quebecois melodic death (as seen in part I) and in the case of Dingir, deathcore. Even though I was right on time for the deathcore boat, I never thoroughly grew to appreciate the style as some seem to have, even in metal's underground circles- sure, deathcore has certainly in recent times become less of a trending scapegoat and more of a semi-legitimate semi-mainstream sort of thing but I still find the style by and large really boring. I don't get it. I like death metal and I like hardcore enough (though I'm way more familiar with the former) but the more popular ways to blend the two styles together these days don't work for me at all, leaving me with none of the things I enjoyed about the parent genres.
This is the primary reason this album didn't sit well with me- though that's not to say that just by virtue of this album having a prominent deathcore presence this album left a bad taste in my mouth. I was even initially kind of intrigued with the idea of a technical death metal band with a deathcore base; Unique-Leader styled tech death bands take deathcore influence all the time but a straight-up half'n'half hybrid of the two is much more rare. The problem is, though the two styles are present in the music, they're not actually mixed together in it- in my Beyond Creation review I liked the showoffy technicality of some of the music because it sounded like natural outgrowths of the simpler riffs, on Dingir, the fast sweep picking sections (sounding uninteresting at best and like the sped-up sounds of firing up a pinball game at worst) are completely afraid to touch the riffs and breakdowns and completely grind against the dry, dismal-toned deathcore chugging underneath. I thought these guys didn't like djent, but a lot of the backing rhythm guitar sections are single-noted start-stop rhythmically atypical chugging...you know, djent. (See: beginning of "Faces Imploding") It may not bear huge similarity because they intersperse it with a lot of faster riffs to remind you you're not listening to Periphery, which range in style from Sumerian Records-style tech-core riffs to modern death metal a la Decrepit Birth's heavier sections to maybe The Faceless kind of stuff to all the modern deathcore other people like sometimes but that stuff's equally as boring nonetheless. Never do the widdly widdly sweeps and the chugga chuggas run in actual concurrence with each other- the other one becomes unnoticeable when the other is in the forefront and they never work in sync to make the music greater than the sum of its parts.
That's all the music really IS- a showcase of the different members of the band, one at a time, not a team but a group of individuals. Not to say that they should be able to, but these guys definitely aren't the kind of band that can just jam a couple of original and interesting musical numbers of the spot- everything here seems carefully composed on a piece of paper before it was played out with each member writing his own part. That doesn't make a band any worse on record, but it's very easy for the contrived nature of the music to kill the natural atmosphere the music would have had, and it certainly does so here- this is partially a result of the masturbatory soloing and directionless riffs not quite catchy or memorable in their melodies but not heavy enough in their tone due to the clean, heavily processed production not having any atmosphere to begin with, but everything's a bigger mess because these guys borrowed the everpresent modern metalcore tradition of completely arbitrary song structuring. No two riffs ever go together- it's just the same few tricks played in a completely random order; riffs are repeated sometimes but no one but the guy who wrote them knows the reason for the reason for it. Four of this, two of that, six of this- does anyone care anymore or what? High-pitched hyperspeed riff noodling jumps into "uber-heavy" texture-based chugs jumps into a quick noodle before a Black Dahlia Murder riff jumps into a breakdown and all you can do is scratch your head and forget every single riff as soon as it stops playing. The drumming is fast and abruptly-changing and clearly played by someone with skill and craftsmanship as everything on this album is but it wanders all over the place and doesn't hold anything down at all, so it's as much a part of the problem as anything else.
The vocals are almost completely irrelevant- they're deathcore-styled gutturals occasionally punctuating verses with high pitched rasps, the absolute definition of "standard". They don't make anything better or worse by existing but that begs the question: why even have them at all? This album is clearly more about showcasing the band's wacky technical skills than anything else so why add one more thing to the music to distract that doesn't contribute anything at all? I mean come on Rings of Saturn, you must get tired of spending all your time constantly writing and rehearsing your riffs and drum pattern and whatnot while all your vocalist does is smoke pot and touch himself while occasionally penning down a "lyric" or something. The workload seems unequally handled, doesn't it? In addition, the one time on the album that the vocals actually DO take a backseat- the final track- is when I actually enjoyed the album the most. The track that precedes it (Immaculate Order) is also good, too- both of them are much more overtly melodic than the rest of the album with the riffs being much more consonant and easy to follow and there's lots of long, drifting songwriting that suits my fancy much more. It's these two songs that save Dingir from being completely worthless- there are some more melodic parts an clean breaks scattered in bits and pieces elsewhere on the album, too, and they're somewhat less annoying but their inclusion in a song is just as irrelevant as everything else so I have to merely appreciate them as a standalone element- and in that regard, they're merely okay.
When I think of outer space, I don't think of anything as cluttered and as intentionally flashy and attention-grabby as this. Space is vast, empty and suffocating. This reminds me of space the same way playing a round of fucking Galaga does, and that's not what I want out of my death metal. This is superficial, immature and gimmicky and is a wonderful representation of the unmemorable forced instrumental complexity that plagues tech-death today.
Dingir conceptually refers to a sign in cuneiform representing deity, its meaning varying a bit depending on which civilization happens to be employing it. In fact, the concept is fairly generic and it wouldn't be inappropriate for a modern person or group thereof to put a unique spin on the concept. It's actually somewhat fitting given tumult surrounding the people living in ancient Sumeria or the later Assyrians that a grotesque manifestation be entertained, and the wild monstrocity adorning the exterior of Rings Of Saturn's sophomore effort ranks as one of the most nightmarish renderings imaginable. If album art were the only criterion for establishing a band's credentials as a formidable force in death metal circles, these Dublin, California natives would be trading blows with the likes of Suffocation and Immolation.
Naturally, all is not found in appearances, and the musical reality of this band is not found only in the realms of blinding speed and morose ravings, but also in the typical genre hopping and noodling of a technical outfit. Much as was the case with their debut, much of this album can be likened to the thousands of notes per song approach heard out of Braindrill, with a similar helping of goregrind influences. However, things have been toned down a bit here to also make way for a somewhat restrained take on a style that generally doesn't grasp the concept. Some of the lead work actually veers away from sweeping at light speed and introduces sort of a blues/jazz character at times (see "Faces Imploding" and "Utopia" for the more overt cases of this) that is pretty close to what Revocation dabbles in.
The Persian Flaw that generally accompanies any band associated with deathcore (and I would argue it applies pretty losely with this band) is too much reliance on over-simplied breakdowns and contrasting them with uniform blast sections. It's essentially an approach to emulating Cryptopsy where all of the technical twists and extra influences that made the original appealing are stripped out, leaving behind a one trick pony that fails to stay interesting after one or two songs. Rings Of Saturn manage to stay true to the original model and allow every instrument to have its share of fun, rather than just letting the drums cook while the of the band rehash the same formulaic 3 note chug riffs. At times they try a little too hard at it and over-load songs with extaneous digital keyboard and quirky guitar tones that sound a bit like late 80s video game music, and the drums are almost too precise and feel a bit mechanical, but the good definitely outweighs the bad.
Some have referred to this as being a more mature offering, but in essence this isn't really all that different from its predecessor. There is a slightly greater sense of tightness to the arrangement and a more elaborate approach to shifting influences at times, perhaps owing to this now being a full fledged band now rather than a 3 person project at the tail end of high school, but it's a foregone conclusion that anyone who liked "Embryonic Anomaly" will have an easy time liking this as well. It's the sort of album that's very fun to listen to once in a while, but apart from those who really love a lot of sugary solos mixed in with their dissonant fits of rage, it's not the sort of album to listen to multiple times in a single day. Nevertheless, it's almost enough to blow $13 on this thing just to have a hard copy of the outlandish visual of a green blob of contorted faces staring right back at you.
After "Embryonic Anomaly," I never thought I'd ever listen to this band ever again, but here I am, lured by curiosity, reviewing Ring of Saturn's second full-length album. I can't say that this album is absolute garbage like the last one, there have been some improvements here and there but we just have to look at the facts. This album may be better than the last, but all in all, it's still a complete bore for many reasons. With a semi-new line-up and with some time you would think that things for these guys would get better. Wrong. So very wrong.
Dingir, in terms of music, is almost no different from their previous work. The only differences are the vocals and drumming. The vocals used to sound a lot like explosive diarrhoeal grunts mixed with some belches in-between, now they sound somewhat decent. It has a certain death metal quality in it that makes it sound good, then the Suicide Silence-esque deathcore screams come in and completely ruin it. The drumming is mind-blowing when it fires at top speed, the blast beats are actually good for a change because its way faster and sounds ten times more brutal than before. On a final note, when it comes to instruments, the guitars sound really cool! I can't stress enough how unique and creative they are. What makes them so is that they sound like something out of a sci-fi film, you really get this unique type of "alien" sound to it. It's as if you're on a spaceship. It's just an absolute travesty to see such awesome solos and riffing go to waste with band such as Rings of Saturn. The guitars are worth so much more. As good as they are, they also have some problems. There are riffs that sound absolutely dreadful, so dreadful that it's painful to listen to most of the time. The entire band has bitten off a little more than they can chew by putting everything at top speed and it's a bit of a clusterfuck to some, myself included. It almost has this Dragonforce-like playing speed which can be tedious and annoying, no one wants another Dragonforce...they were bad enough. In metal, speed is good, but not if you overdo it to the utmost extreme.
This album was a let-down, which I'm not surprised about at all. The band has failed to meet the expectations, as if there were any to begin with, but I have to give them some credit for at least improving themselves a little bit by getting rid of that awful lead vocalist they had before in their previous instalment and ditching their old drummer and replacing him with someone who actually has skill. Yes, I'm a little saddened to see such talent go to waste like that. This band could really have a potential of deathcore wasn't their primary goal of musical direction. I'm not narrow-minded, I actually appreciate some deathcore bands, it's just these guys do it poorly just like they suck at technical death metal as well. My advice, don't buy this. Hell, don't even download it! It's not worth your time and it certainly isn't worth getting your ears raped over.
At there inception in 2009, Rings of Saturn showed that they could sweep pick and play breakdowns. Although the sweeping was ridiculously good, the song structure of each track on their debut album, "Embryonic Anomaly", was very repetitive. It's amazing what two years can do to change the writing capability of a band. "Dingir" shows the maturation of the band, and is an enormous improvement for the quintet. Rings of Saturn have really stepped it up a notch by making an excellent and brutal technical death metal/deathcore album in "Dingir".
Right from the start, guitarists Lucas Mann and Joel Omans show their amazing talent with their seven string guitars. Each song on the record has phenomenal sweeps from each guitarist. The sound of the sweeps is very unique, sounding like space effects, making the band call themselves "Aliencore". What really makes these guys stand out is their age. Not one of the five members of Rings of Saturn have reached the age of 25 yet, and to have such incredible talent at such a young age will only make you wonder how they can improve their musicianship for years to come.
Not only are the guitarists extremely talented, drummer Ian Baker puts on quite a show as well. It's almost hard to believe the drumming is real. The speed and control of his blast beats, gravity blasts and double bass is superior to most drummers in the genre, and he never once misses a beat throughout the record. The vocals, performed by Ian Bearer, are powerfully brutal. From his guttural lows to his ear-shattering highs, Bearer gives an excellent vocal performance from start to finish. Bassist Sean Martinez gives an equal amount of effort and talent throughout "Dingir" as well. The only problem is you can never detect the bass in any of the songs. I had to look up a bass play through to hear it clearly, but when I did, I could instantly see and hear the talent Martinez has.
The opening song, "Objective to Harvest", starts the record off right. The improvement of song structure is easily heard right from the beginning, and is already proof of a much more listenable record than their debut full length. Working your way through the album, "Dingir" improves with every song. Songs like "Shards of Scorched Flesh" and "Faces Imploding" deliver blistering technicality from both Mann and Omans, and the drumming by Baker is performed perfectly throughout. A unique aspect of Ian Bearer's vocal performance is the amount of high screaming he produces in "Dingir". With most technical death metal bands, the majority of the vocals are either lows or mids, with few highs. The use of highs is a good choice, and hopefully he will continue to use them in future albums. But, did I mention the amount of crazy sweeping in this album? I have never heard such amazing guitar sweeping performances from a band, ever. These guys have made their name as one of the most technical bands in the genre, and you wonder how they can improve their level of sweeps with the bar being set so high this early in their careers.
Although each song has phenomenal technicality, the last two tracks really stand out the most. "Immaculate Order" and the instrumental track "Utopia" both show signs of a possible progressive approach for their third full length. These are actually my favorite songs on the record. I like to see the use of progressive elements in the music, and hopefully they will use it more with their future albums. Also, it is a brave move to make the final song the album an instrumental. However, it may be the best move they have made as a band thus far. The song is beautiful, and a perfect ending track on such a brutally technical album. This type of an ending shows the musicianship and fantastic writing these guys have, and will only improve with time and experience.
"Dingir" is a massive step forward for Rings of Saturn. They have shown their maturity as a band with this album, and is a great second release for the quintet. I gave this a 94 for a few reasons. I feel like the drums could have been turned down a little bit. They are very dominant throughout the album. Also, the bass could have been turned up. With a bassist that has that kind of talent, it would be a treat to hear it more clearly in the record. Lastly, since they gave some at the end, I would like to hear more melodic parts, and slower, longer guitar solos like the ones in "Immaculate Order" and "Utopia". In fact, it wouldn't hurt to hear more instrumentals in future records from these guys. All in all, "Dingir" is a great album and is a must for the technical death metal fan. Excellent work from the guys in Rings of Saturn. Be sure to look out for these guys in the future, they keep getting better and better.
Rings of Saturn are a band that draws a lot of mixed reactions. You either think it's just wanky ridiculously technical noise, or you think it's perfectly constructed technical deathcore. I'm in the latter side and while I think at times RoS's sweepy madness is a bit much I still really enjoyed previous effort "Embryonic Anomaly". 2 years later they have a new album out called "Dingir" (but only for free digital download because of some unfortunate legal issues).
Musically, the band have matured as songwriters. The music sounds a lot better written with more technical riffage delivered by Lucas Mann and Joel Omans as opposed to the non-stop sweeps on the first album. While some of the insane technical wankery is still there the band have made it secondary, rather than the main attraction. The band have also focused less on breakdowns here, and while I liked the breakdowns on the previous album some of them were a bit drawn out. Here there is no such problem. Every breakdown has a purpose and a perfect length of time to do what it needs to do.
New drummer Ian Baker provides an excellent barrage of blast beats and precise technical fills. While bassist Sean Martinez doesn't get many opportunities to show off his skills, his bass follows the guitarwork fairly well and does compliment the overall sound of the album.
New vocalist Ian Bearer has a solid vocal range, mixing guttural growls with mid-range throaty grunts and higher pitched raspy screams. The vocals feel a bit more charismatic than on the previous effort. While i'm not knocking Peter Pawlak's vocal style, Bearer definitely has more presence as a frontman. Lyrically the band have continued their space theme with topics such as aliens harvesting humans for experimental purposes and destroying Earth. It almost feels like a concept album with the way the lyrics are written.
The closing instrumental "Utopia" gets its own paragraph. A very atmospheric piece that sounds inspired by the likes of Death or Obscura that closes the album perfectly with some amazing melodies, solo work and ambience and shows perfectly just how much the band have improved as songwriters in the two years between albums.
Okay so I may not like this album as much as "Embryonic Anomaly" which was a much more catchy enjoyable release, this is definitely a worthy follow-up. The band have really stepped up their game as musicians and songwriters and I expect they're only going to get better with time.
Rings of Saturn is a very technical metal band. They play in that metal genre we all know, love and hate known as deathcore. But amongst their deathcore peers, this band chooses to stand out from the pack with a strong emphasis on a space-like theme (as originally seen before on their debut album) and a big priority on technicality, which can come as a hate-it-or-love-it attribute. If you weren't ever into groups along the likes of Brain Drill, you may not fancy this band too much... just being honest. Combining metalcore and technical death metal can draw or turn away some metal fans while leaving some very impressed but for the likes of these kids, it's obvious they're in it for the fun of simply playing extreme music with seriousness aside.
Very first time I heard the samplers of Dingir, I already knew it was going to be amazing, so the band putting it up for 100% free download on the Total Deathcore website had me in immediate glee. The album did not disappoint, I said it before and I'll say it again, Dingir is basically the band's debut album but on steroids. Everything that was great about Embryonic Anomaly is back here and in bigger and better versions. The fact that this album was played by a full band (and not just a three piece studio project) doesn't hurt either. Speaking of which, that reminds me that basically only one member of the original Rings of Saturn line-up remains here when they were a three piece. Lucas Mann's very technical playing (which was pretty much the most key sound to Rings of Saturn) is the only remaining member and by lord he sure brings us a gift better than that he even does on the last record. His guitar playing on their debut was of such a skill, I refused to believe that it was done by a 18 year old. But here he does more than just put full throttle guitar wankery over his fredboard. He uses some more skills such as bends and tapping during the right moments, it was even hard to believe that this kid gave it a quick rest on even the album's opening song.
The band's original vocalist Peter Pawlak left (by his own choice) which had the band acquire John Galloway for a short time, who decided to leave as well since he apparently didn't see fit to the band and wasn't having fun being a part of the group until finally landing on Ian Bearer as the band's new frontman. Now Bearer has a somewhat different style than Pawlak. At first listen, the two growlers sound almost exactly alike but what Bearer holds over Pawlak is that he not only performs this very guttural growl that Pawlak wasn't capable of, but his screams are more like a shriek. Bearer's screams sound great through the microphone and on the album which feels like an extraterrestrial is about to devour your soul and put every other human to ruin, but his growls sound like a beast. It's almost like a cross between Travis Ryan and Ken Sorceron.
As for drumming, unfortunately they tend to sound very triggered and produced here as they were on Embryonic Anomaly. However, Ian Baker's skins skills do come off more precise and accurate than the previous Rings of Saturn drummer was. Baker's playing just doesn't sound as sloppy. Their past drummer was good but his blast beats sounded almost like the drums were falling off their pedestals while he was playing. Basically Baker prefers having a good metronome timing to his playing instead of blasting the heck out of every possible moment.
All in all Dingir is an excellent opus of technical extreme metal. I would recommend this album to those that enjoy Brain Drill, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Gorguts or Thy Art Is Murder. Even if you hate deathcore, please give this band a try. Every genre has at least a few artists that are worthwhile.
Favorite tracks: "Objective to Harvest", "Hyperforms"
A burning Game Boy gets into a fight with a pinball machine, then they bro-hug and make up and agree to crossbreed beatdown hardcore with wanky technical death metal with weird guitar acrobatics that sound like both of them. This sounds like a broken record, constantly skipping around with clicking and popping sounds from the synthetic drum samples. Ten second clips on shuffle, aimlessly wandering through exercises from instructional videos played at the speed of light, occasionally happening upon a solid section that makes me wonder why the rest of the music is horrible wank-death.
Why bother jumping through hoops for this long when the trick gets old a minute into the album? It's like the band made an album solely based on criticisms of the practices that make Necrophagist boring while forgetting that they're making music? They lean on breakdowns like a crutch, because they can't take a few steps without stumbling. They spend most of their time leaning on the other crutch, guitar acrobatics - when you lean on one crutch, you run in circles. I'm sure these guys could play circles around me, but they're still going in circles every 30 seconds. Shred it and forget it.
The band has been accused of recording their guitar acrobatics at half speed and speeding them up. This really doesn't matter because the music is boring. I'm not interested in the Guitar Olympics, they can spend years training and two weeks running through countless spectacles, but half of them are variations of running in circles or blazing at high speeds for ten seconds at a time.
Rings of Saturn forget the last part they played as quickly as you'll forget it. The closing track is the exception, where they have a melody that I could almost remember by the last time it came around, but I was too distracted by the extended noodling that permeates that track as well as the rest of the album. It's a shame that cool artwork like this was wasted on this wankfest.
...well, almost. Rings of Saturn, an experimental technical death metal band from California, have gone through many changes in the past couple of years. They traded in their old vocalist for a 19-year old from Ford City, Pennsylvania. They also recruited a full-time 2nd lead/rhythm guitar player, a new bassist, and eventually, a full-time drummer. With line-up changes usually come style changes. Their debut album "Embryonic Anomaly" was mainly chaotic sweep picking and other elements that a flurry of notes would incorporate (like tapping), accompanied by some decent riffs and some deathcore breakdowns, which were generic at times. With all the touring and line-up changes that followed came "Dingir", their yet-to-be-released sophomore album. It became available to the public via the vocalist's Youtube channel, where they streamed the entire album. And what an album it is.
The focal point of technical death metal is (obviously) the guitars. Lucas Mann (the sole original member) and Joel Omans do an excellent job handling lead and rhythm duties. Much of Lucas's influence from Embryonic is still present, with many crazy time signatures and chaotic technical passages (sweeping, tapping, etc.). However, something changed. It wasn't just complete mindless sweeping anymore. Not only did they have substance, there were also great intricate melodies incorporated, something that wasn't exactly present on "Embryonic Anomaly". The riffs have also improved greatly, with more focus on the structure, less deathcore breakdowns, and slower, melodic passages in between. Another thing they added were some great melodic solos, which also help add to the overall "spacey" ambiance on the album. Another improvement was the reduction of deathcore breakdowns, as well as better placement. However, some of them still lack substance, which can normally be annoying. Most of the breakdowns, however, had pretty good build-up and were generally enjoyable to listen to. The main downfall of Embryonic Anomaly was that the technical aspect was focused on too much, and the songs, while still enjoyable, lacked a sense of direction. On Dingir, however, they fit extremely well with the melodic riffs and solos.
With a change in vocalists usually comes a change in presence. While I enjoyed Peter Pawlak's deep gutturals and high-pitched screams, they were quite generic. 19-year old Ian Bearer ended up taking his place, and it was definitely a change for the better. He brings a lot more energy, and his vocals are also great. His lows are like nothing I've ever heard before, and his highs are practically inhuman. His voice is also quite relaxed, which definitely helps give his vocals a very dominant presence.
Bassist Sean Martinez doesn't get much of a chance to shine, but when he does, his bass leads are sure great. He follows the guitars along very well, and he definitely adds to the sound. Drummer Ian Baker is also quite the standout. His level of technical ability is incredible, with incredibly fast feet, great gravity blasts, and insane fills. Alas, the drums sound over-produced as fuck, almost as if it was done by a drum machine, so it kind of takes away from the performance. But Ian still did great.
With insanely fast yet melodic guitar leads, a great vocal performance, good bass leads, chaotic drumming, and great atmospherics, the final product is in fact very good. But it's not without its flaws. The album is still plagued with some technical wankery. Some of the breakdowns on the album aen't that great either. The one halfway through "Faces Imploding" is very monotonous and seems to lack character. It still comes together well, however, and the finished product shows the frantic technical prowess (or wankery, depending on what you thought of their debut) of Embryonic Anomaly combined with better rhythms and melody.
The individual songs definitely emulate the final product well. Songs like "Objective to Harvest", "Dingir" (formerly "Feast Upon Their Bowels"), "Faces Imploding" and "Immaculate Order" show the more mature RoS, with a lot more melody and better rhythms, whilst still retaining the franticness of their debut. Other songs like "Galactic Cleansing", "Shards of Scorched Flesh", "Peeling Arteries", "Hyperforms", and "Fruitless Existence" are technical onslaughts reminiscent of the old RoS, but with more maturity and still retaining some melody. "Utopia", on the other hand, is a great way to end the album. It helps the listener reflect on the fury of the first 9 songs on the album whilst putting them in a trance from the melodies and ambiance. Overall, it's a highly technical album with a much better sense of direction and song structure. It wasn't a perfect album, nor did the band reach their pinnacle, but it was a great album to listen to, and I expect a lot more music of this quality from Rings of Saturn.
Recommended for fans of: Origin, Obscura, Spawn of Possession, The Faceless, Abiotic