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The hacks that make up this band decided to try and impress us with their skills at their respective roles on this abortion. Right from the off the guitarist throws in this overly bright and obnoxiously loud bit of guitar wankery nicked straight from a Between the Buried and Me album or something. And then the whole band comes crashing in with the standard deathcore low growl and some completely triggered-sounding plastic-y blasting, along with this inconsequential slush masquerading as metallic riffing underneath these... only to launch straight into a 'heavy as fuck' breakdown less than a minute in. Throw in some utterly grating high shrieks and that sums up this whole album. Lots of sweep picking, lots of breakdowns and lots and lots of blasting. Rinse and repeat.
The band literally does nothing else at all - which would be fine if said ideas were executed properly, but of course they aren't. Every song follows the same formula and uses the same handful of awful ideas. All the various sections of this album sounds as though they were machined from the great block of generic deathcore and then sort of stuck together in a haphazard fashion. The various sections that make up the songs are seemingly summoned from outer space itself and simply come and go; nothing is developed, songs never reach a conclusion after all the fits of chaotic noodling and endless, dragging breakdowns. What makes it worse is that this band actually kind of sucks at their respective instruments. Every noodling, 'spacey' digitised solo, every last breakdown and every last 'riff' sounds exactly like every other solo, breakdown or 'riff'. So not only is every last song indistinguishable from every other song, but every song and the ideas contained within them sound like shit as well.
This manufactured, ramshackle feel to the album is accentuated by the awful production values. Take for instance the guitar tone, which is so slick and processed that you can slip up on your way to the toilet to vomit while listening to it. The drums as stated sound sterile and lightweight (removing any impacting the blasting may have), while the lead guitar tone is so 'colourful' and sweet that it clashes with the 'super heavy' music that surrounds the aimless grating guitar wankery - we don't need to hear your 'skills' at soloing, never mind the fact that the solos themselves meander and are wholly unmemorable. The blasts have no weight to them at all and fade into white noise after at least 3 minutes. And the guitars are in effect a layer of noise, a sort of percussive instrument. The problem there is that like the drums they have no sonic weight to them at all, they don't settle into any interesting rhythms (rather being this indistinct layer beneath all of the nonsense) and there is nothing in the music that needs to be punctuated by this type of guitar work at all; so it is a completely pointless and poorly done performance.
There is no substance to this music at all. It isn't aggressive, it isn't well written, it isn't that heavy (either aesthetically or in terms of the music) and it certainly isn't impressive in its technicality. It is the sonic equivalent to having keys jangled in front of your face for 35 minutes.
When I say that, I really mean it. For the longest time I could listen to maybe an album by All Shall Perish, Whitechapel, or even Suicide Silence. And of course, the focus here, Rings Of Saturn. But I've pretty much dropped all interest in deathcore as a genre just because it lacks so much effort, and it all sounds the same. Even this band's later albums don't mean much to me, and any bands I just mentioned will likely just collect dust on my shelf. That is, except for this one right here, the only exception to my anti-deathcore rule.
Being different is almost always a good thing in my eyes, as long as you can pull it off and do it right. And that they did, with Embryonic Anomaly. But first, lets shed out the parts that seem to be a little more cliche, to get it out on the table. The vocals here, for the most part, are pretty much the same as most bands of this style, and they should come as no surprise. It's nothing more than those deep guturrals that sound similar throughout the whole album, and don't have much uniqueness to them at all. But, the higher ones have a bit more of a fierce crisp to them that makes it stand out a little bit, and sadly this is the only release featuring that vocalist. Everything after this sounds no different than other deathcore bands.
Digging into this though, you'll notice themes of aliens and outer space, along with a sick album cover to reflect that. I can't say there is any other band that really does this, and it was a fabulous approach to catch the attention of more than just those snapback wearing, ear stretched hardcore dancers. Although the lyrics are tough to understand, I find them fascinating and very poetic, and being mixed with this style makes for a pretty cool outcome. That being said, the instrumentation here is fabulous. Most would say that it's stupid, because it's so technical that it just sounds like it's "just fucking around on the guitar". But if you hear it closely, there's still a pattern that is being reached and the tuning used gives it that outer space feel. Plus, there's plenty of breaks with simple riffage such as in my favorite track "Final Abhorrent Dream", before he lets out those harsh shrieks going along with those crushing drumbeats.
Now that's definitely something that stands out too, the drums. They're played at a ridiculous tempo and the patterns are timed differently. It has a lot of blast beats that are broken into sections and not just played straight through the entire break, riff, or whatever is going on in the song. Granted, this was electric drums to give it the same effect that the guitar tuning gives, but that doesn't take away from the talent. The drums working as a team here with the guitars is what really ties everything together for me. Some of the vocals, although they get tiring, have their moments too, topped off with an interesting theme. As anybody who's into deathcore would eat this up, I would recommend it to any fan of the death metal genre as a whole. It's the only deathcore album that really appeals to me, and if given a chance, it could be loved by many others as well. That's all thanks to being a little different.
I cannot stand the majority of the modern technical death metal that I hear. You could chalk it up to me being an old curmudgeon about my metal music (even though I was born long after death metal first took form), but today's tech death is like Red Bull: it all tastes the same and the taste is terrible. Occasionally there will be bands that reveal great promise, such as Obscura, Cattle Decapitation, or Fleshgod Apocalypse, but more often than not a modern tech death band will just be nothing but extended sweep picking exercises and overindulgent blast beats repeated ad nauseum with the very occasional real riff thrown in from time to time for the entirety of a song, and by extension a whole album. Riding on the coattails of this style's pioneers Brain Drill and Beneath the Massacre, California's Rings of Saturn have managed to be even worse than the former two with their debut album Embryonic Anomaly, mixing the same old and tired modern tech death formula with sanity grating electronic sounds and an absolutely atrocious production style.
The music found within this album's covers bears very little resemblance to death metal. There are blast beats, yes, as well as guitars going haywire and guttural, growling vocals, but what transpires for the 35 minutes this album runs for is just one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad noise section after another. To me, death metal is equally about atmosphere, riffing, and memorability. The reason that the great bands of yesteryear like Death, Morbid Angel, and Cannibal Corpse have stuck around in peoples' heads well into the 2010s is because they knew what made a song good and how to bring their ideas into musical form properly. The disgusting, slimy sludge of "Where the Slime Live", the morbid, almost graveyard-at-night sense of terror of "I Cum Blood", and the spine tingling horror of "Leprosy" were achieved not because each band threw every trick they had up their sleeves into the pot, but because they focused on atmosphere through the songwriting and on simple, yet memorable riffs. Technical riffing is of course welcome, but not to the point where it just makes you want to turn the album off and never put it on again. Rings of Saturn know not the meaning of the words "atmosphere", "memorable", and "riff", as they fell victim to the Brain Drill disease of "make every song sound like your CD player/computer is about to explode". While one may be inclined to applaud this band for the cacophony they have created with this album, said cacophony is so unmemorable and been there, done that that one will not remember what happened in a song a mere 10 or 15 seconds after a section passes. The fact that the band felt the need to incorporate deathcore elements into the mix through the most cliche and spin-kick happy breakdowns possible only adds to the album's crap factor. Yes boys, we know you can play your instruments. No need to brag about it to the rest of us that like our music to actually sound like music.
Where the music really makes me just want to rip every copy of this album that I find apart via corn threshing machine a la Halloween 6 is the "spacey" electronic keyboard samples littered throughout the record. These are some of the most annoying, ear grating, headache-inducing synthesizer effects I've ever heard in any music. While they do admittedly have a very distinct sound and feel to them, it isn't saying much when the samples and keyboard effects are as poorly executed as they are. Keyboards in death metal are entirely possible to do properly (just look at Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse), but Rings of Saturn absolutely butcher the idea of synthesizer effects in death metal by making them just as grating and awful sounding as the rest of the music. There's only so much high pitch whizzing and whoozing that I can stand to listen to before I just want to punch a hole through my desk in frustration. Actively hindering the music (not that there was much there to hinder that it couldn't already do by itself) is the god awful production quality. About as brickwalled and artificially loud as possible, this is the very definition of terrible mastering. Audible clipping is rampant throughout the record due to its overly compressed nature, and if you found it hard enough to get through the terrible music, the production style will lead to you shutting off the disc and never turning it back on again. I already have enough issues with tinnitus; I don't need an awful "death metal" album making it even worse.
You know, this may sound odd, but at least Brain Drill wasn't annoying. They're terrible, yes, and they're an absolute shame to what made death metal so good to begin with, but I was never annoyed listening to them. Rings of Saturn, on the other hand, are indeed incredibly annoying. Through a combination of terrible modern tech death issues, a flat out bad production style, and the worst synthesizer effects one could possibly insert into a song, Embryonic Anomaly proves to be nothing but a miserable piece of work from start to finish. They may be very good at working their way around their instruments, but for these California boys, instrumental talent does not, can not, and will not translate to musicality and songwriting ability. Back to the drawing board with you all, preferably until you figure out how to write a song.
Rings of Saturn is a very different kind of metal band that strongly prefers to stick to an outer space kind of theme. In this release we see three kids playing some of the most technical and innovative deathcore that 2010 would hold. First thing to take notice of; no one in this band was above the age of 17 while recording this, and this is amazing considering how much talent you find on this release. Pawlak's vocals, Lucas Mann's shredding and Brent Silletto's (triggered) drumming all compliments each other almost perfectly, it's hard to believe how well they did it while this young and not to mention, on their very first release!
Basically the album starts off with the "Invasion", the first 20 seconds or so of this track feel almost as if you're about to board on a space shuttle for a mission to the outside space. Mann's rapid guitar playing, bends and sweeps come in over the galatic back sounds and eventually leads into the song full-force. After this, the band's most popular song "Seized and Devoured" plays in, and after enough listens it really gets stuck in your head. Pawlak's vocals really show here as he growls and screams about an alien invasion taking upon earth's very people and slaughtering them one by one. One of the most interesting things about this one particular song, however is it shows off Rings of Saturn's trademark style of breakdowns. You'll come across on this album hearing some heavy booms that the guitars conduct during chug moments. They usually come off like "boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom" just in faster intervals. Truly steps this group away as a whole from the rest of deathcore.
Now before I get onto the next quality song, I just want to state, one thing I don't particularly prefer is that the song "Final Abhorrent Dream" sounds way too much like a Brain Drill song than anything. Though we have to remember these are kids writing 9 songs (technically 8 since the final is just an outro track) for a metal opus, I just couldn't get over how much that song alone sounded too much like Brain Drill, so I found myself deleting that one from my iPod just to get on with more of their best stuff such as "Corpses Thrown Across the Sky" which shows off the band's funnest moments other than the completely and undeniably badass sweeping moment that Mann does during "Abducted" where he crawls his hand up and down the fret board at such a rate it actually sounds like a flying saucer is coming down the earth. He even smacks his fretboard in the midst of it during the second verse just to give the listener further disbelief that a teenager is playing guitar this fucking well.
I didn't really get onto to the drums however, because that's one thing where this album fails. The drumming is good but it's so obviously triggered that it doesn't even serve a purpose to pay attention to. Paying attention to the drums on this album is like watering a plastic flower in your living room; there is no point. It's just there to look good (in this case sound good) but it's not something to praise. All in all the record is tons of extreme metal fun coming from 3 high school kids that just let their imaginations run wild. Embryonic Anomaly is definitely something to listen to for any technical death metal or deathcore fan (or both).
Most bands, when trying to combine metal and deathcore, manage a homogenous mixture of the two. Somehow this band is able to separate the two into two thick layers of oil (metal) and water (deathcore). One section will be only palm-muted open chords and the next will be only technical dissonance, with other riffs rarely in between.
Now, the technical riffs are actually decent. They aren't the migraine-inducing constant barrage of notes that a lot of metal bands think pass for music composition. They are dissonant and they are fast, but they do not get grating. They have an 8-bit kind of sound that sounds like an old school video game and is most likely what gives this band its sci-fi name. I enjoy the quick, abrupt, and often strange arpeggios that this band sprinkles along each track.
However, the palm-muted open notes...that's what kills this album. 50% of the album is a breakdown. It's as if the band wrote a few good riffs and needed to give their left hands a break between each lightning-fast lick. I can overlook a little two-step every once in a while, but this is just absurd. Deathcore takes the most rarely-used inventions of metal and abuses them to the point of retardation, and that's why I shun most bands with a heavy influence from it.
As for the "other riffs" I described earlier, they are few and far in-between. Some of them are a few foreboding picks of the strings and some are just good ol' fashioned tremolo picking. The vocals are very good in my opinion. They range from low and gurgly to high-pitched shrieks, and are executed very well. He doesn't babble so much as to clutter the music. The drums are played at varying tempos and throw in a little more creativity to the otherwise dull areas.
Although I love a good bass drop every now and then, this band uses them way too often. It significantly detracts from the point of a bass drop by happening a dozen times in some of the songs. It is supposed to add power and presence to a part of a song, but it just gets dull when it happens over and over.
This band had a lot of potential, but all the cool areas got buried in non-creativity and repetition. Maybe their sophomore effort will surprise us.
This is definitely something new, a new sound that's refreshing and also something that's unique and exciting. Is Rings of Saturn's "Embryonic Anomaly" is (as many praise) out of this world? Some would scream at the top of their lungs in eargasmic joy, "yes!" and literally cream themselves with pure excitement. I on the other hand disagree with the so called "praise" and this review will (probably) make the fans cry and give the new listeners a warning. This isn't a smooth ride, and I for one, hate space travel.
People like to hear the good news first, right? So I'm going to start out by saying that the guitars are absolutely the best part of the album, it really feels like you're in a sci-fi flick and it really brings aliens and the Starship Enterprise to mind. You can really hear the skill and finesse that had been executed by the lead guitar and rhythm to follow, there's a lot of talent here, lots of speed and power. Shortly put: the instrumentals (just the guitars) sound surreal. This is definitely the most unique deathcore band I've heard in a while. Like I said, refreshing.
Now to the bad news, the cons. This album is, for one, really dull, repetitive and boring! The first song was satisfactory and from there everything else was a travesty. As each song progressed I began to hate this song more and more. Every song is like this: instrumental, breakdown, repeat. That's basically it, nothing special. The vocals are very dull and you know what to expect, just like the drums and the sound filler, its very predictable (just like a lot of deathcore content). The singer comes off as an asshole in this piece mainly because (maybe it's just me) he's trying WAY too hard, high screams? No problem. Gutterals? They're practically falling off the wayside that it sounds like he's belching out the words. The drummer is playing his kit at the speed of light...er...kinda. He's playing really fast, but he's making a mess out of it, it's sloppy and in the end it sounds unprofessional.
To me, this album is nothing but a waste of cash that you could've bought Aeon's "Path of Fire" or Dying Fetus' "Descend into Depravity". My disliking of this album increased after each track and I expected great results from this album as well, but you can't always get what you want. This album is as generic as it gets, no questions asked, and sure the solos are great but you should spend (or download) on something else.
As can be ascertained by being in my physical presence for three seconds, I don't like my deathcore to try to be intelligent. Bands like The Faceless disgust me, actually: we're talking about a genre that not only revels in its own stupidity, but actually thrives on it. You know when the stuff The Faceless is playing will become acceptable behavior for the deathcore genre? Around the same moment Jungle Rot starts incorporating alternating time signatures in their measures. Imagine a band like, say, Carnifex being stripped of their thugged-out slam/breakdowns - you'd have yourself a melodic death metal band, not a deathcore one. So yeah, I don't like the formula for deathcore being tampered with, because it seldom ends well. This, however, would have to be an exception - Rings of Saturn have actually managed to do something intelligent with deathcore while 1) keeping it in the genre of deathcore, and 2) making it fun to listen to.
The band's primary selling point is the very extraterrestrial-sounding riffing, which the band has decided to milk for all it's worth with the cheap genre tag of "aliencore". Regardless, while previewing the band's songs I didn't expect these riffs to hold up for a whole full-length, points for originality notwithstanding, but they managed to actually pull it off. The riffs often weedle up and down with a sort of melody that could best be described as a mix of typical sci-fi outer-space bleep-bloop ambience and a combination of noise coming from a pinball-themed lottery machine. This style of riffing certainly gives the music its fair share of insanity, but it's not what I love the most about this album, not by a long shot. The drum kit; hnnnnnggg. A peculiar feature of the band's drums is that the kick drum sounds very close to a high-tuned snare, causing the typical double-bass backing to sound like gravity blasts; and goddamn does it make this album heavy. (A perfect example would be at 1:02 in "Corpses Thrown Across the Sky", where the melody of a previous breakdown riff is repeated with tremolo riffs and "gravity blasts", resulting in a riff that is one of the most intense, ear-crushing musical features I've ever heard in a metal album.) The guitar tone also does its fair amount of work giving the album both originality and an amazing atmosphere. It's a hard bitch to describe, but imagine if you will a wet, sludgy, thick and electronic guitar tone that has the potential to crush skulls. This guitar tone, combined with the rest of the musical elements, creates a thick, relentless atmosphere, not unlike a crystal-clear parallel of the one used by Incantation.
The vocals on this album also play their part in the madness. They could be aptly described as a Viraemia clone - airy, echoed growls that mostly accent the guitar riffs, and fully-fleshed rasping screams that tend to create a sort of harmony with the guitars. The screams seem to work best during the insane weedle riffs, but they seem to have a tendency to cross over into the domain of the breakdowns a lot, which this band should predominantly populate with growls to compliment the general stupidity of such a riff.
The biggest complaint about this album I can think of is the general style of the breakdowns it loves so much: when it sticks to its rapid-fire muted djent riffs, that's all fine, but more often than not the breakdowns are either three, five, seven, or nine eighth or sixteenth notes stranded in the middle of an otherwise barren measure. I hate - HAIT - spacious breakdowns with a passion; they have to be used very carefully if they don't want to end up being completely stupid.
Overall, though, Rings of Saturn try something new while both staying true to deathcore's roots and not completely neutering it in the process. This album is pretty fucking amazing - give it a try, you won't regret it.
Finally, some modern tech death that isn't mindless wankery with no substance *cough*Brain Drill*cough*. This is really mind-blowing stuff. The guitarists are indeed shredding as fast as possible, but it doesn't seem as sterile as bands like Brain Drill and Diskreet. I don't quite know how to explain it. It feels similar, but fresh at the same time. This is certainly a very strange album.
Rings of Saturn play what they call "aliencore", but to others, this would be technical/experimental deathcore with alien themes
The guitar tone sounds like 8-bit, but nintendocore this isn't. This is insane sweep picking, with the drummer battering his kit like a madman. While this sounds like some kind of noisy attempt at mathcore, it seems structured. This has elements of tech death, slam, metalcore, ambient and mathcore. This is tech death with atmosphere. It makes you feel like you're in space, watching the earth get devoured by beings from another world.
The vocalist switches between your typical brutal death metal growls and raspy metalcore screams, while his lyrics are (mostly) easy to make out. He only adds to the overall atmosphere. You imagine him as an alien commander ordering his army and telling you all about it as he does it.
The breakdowns are almost slam like in their approach and simplicity, and are placed only in the song where you need a break from the mindblowing shredding and blast beats. Breakdowns are always going to make or break an album, and in this case they make it. Well executed and appropriately placed, as opposed to being used for the sake of being used.
The production is extremely well done, which some may see as a reason to hate it, but i'd much rather be able to make out individual instruments over a kvlt wall of noise, so the clear production is not a problem to me.
This is a standout from your typical tech death wankcore crap. These are the leaders of the modern tech death scene with The Faceless, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Viraemia. Get this album right now.
I'm tempted to just copy and paste my Brain Drill review for a third time here (a trick that surprisingly not one single person called me on, shame on you all), but I'd rather not overdo one of my gimmicks like I'm so prone to doing. But really, every problem I have with the merry band of Californian sodomites is amplified here to a level I thought unimaginable. The technicality isn't even impressive at this point, it's so in your face and unabashed that there's nothing to marvel at anymore. When every percussive instance is part of a blast beat and every guitar note is part of a breakdown or sweeping section, there's just nothing to impress anymore. It's akin to an exploitation film beginning with an incestuous rape scene that climaxes with Bigfoot barging into the room and jerking off on a corpse before shitting on the victim and eating them both, but then the movie ends with the main character just being stabbed. Sorry, a sword to the sternum isn't all that shocking when compared to the sheer insanity of the hypothetical opening scene, and that's what Embryonic Anomaly really is. The first few seconds off the album feature intense sweeping and other assorted fretboard noodlings before degenerating into a cliche breakdown. This formula repeats itself over and over and over and over again throughout the album and the only different element that gets introduced later is some lame keyboard effect that bangs out a chord or two occasionally.
The problem I touched on when reviewing Origin is present here to a degree, and that's that there is so much going on that it's hard to take it all in and really digest it. The main problem is that Rings of Saturn throws exclusively piles of shit at you, so it's hard to even WANT to take it all in. There are two things you're gonna get, excessive weedly weedly noises and ultra distorted chugdowns, and the band isn't very good at writing either. The noodly parts aren't even Weedling as much as they are Beedrilling themselves into your brain and absolutely refusing to back off. I bet the waveform looks like a brick wall. There's no variety despite there being a bazillion different notes being played each track, there's no way to differentiate which song is which since each sweepy doodle, each breakdown, and even each occasionally real riff sounds exactly like each one that came before it. I'm having trouble even describing this shit in detail because there aren't any details to analyze. Everything is to be taken at face value, which isn't much to gawk at.
There are a few common praises that I just have to dispel here, both regarding the sound of the album. One is how the pristine production for once completely adds to the album. This is legitimately bullshit because the sound isn't all that clean. Sure, it isn't muddy, but I don't have to be smothered in wet dirt to need a shower. Does everybody remember the uproar that Death Magnetic caused with it's insanely compressed production? The same fucking thing is here, 100% exactly the same. There is audible clipping and horrid oversaturation throughout the whole deal, it's torture for the ears. Even if the album was well written, I'd still have trouble listening to it because it's akin to having a brick shoved into your ear for 35 minutes. The other issue I have is how this was heralded as being very "spacey", which is the descriptor that made me interested in checking the band out in the first place. Let's get something straight, Space Invaders is NOT spacey. A bunch of high pitched beeps and boops is not spacey in the least fucking bit, it sounds "electronic" or "technological" or "malfunctioning". Space is a vast, infinitely desolate place, larger than any human mind can conceive and overwhelmingly devoid of life. Fucking Wormphlegm is spacier than this and they sound like they're recording in the center of the Earth. Even if you don't take the desolate approach to space and instead look at it as a majestic canvas which we can project our wildest imaginations upon, this is still an utter failure as it feels manufactured in every way. Every bit of this noodly mess is completely calculated and meticulously designed to fit this ridiculous tech-deathcore template. I know space and science seem to go hand in hand, but outer space is about as organic as you can get. There is virtually nothing man made in the great expanse of nothingness, and yet people consistently associate this entirely unnatural and manufactured mess of an album with it.
Would you stare at a strobe light for 35 minutes straight? If so, then Embryonic Anomaly is definitely for you. It's just a flashy trick being done over and over again for the whole album and very rarely gets interesting. Rings of Saturn disappoints the hell out of me because on a purely technical level, these kids have some real skills for their age (I think the guitarist only recently grew hair on his testicles or something). It's just upsetting that their songwriting skills aren't nearly as mature and developed as their ability to move their fingers incredibly fast. "Corpses Thrown Across the Sky" and "Final Abhorrent Dream" actually have pretty good riffs in the middle of them, and the beginning of "Seized and Devoured" sounds like I just beat a level in Sonic 2, but otherwise there's nothing of interest. Lame, predictable music for the average, droolingly stupid tech death fan.
It’s safe to say that Cryptopsy created a monster in the mid 90s when they assaulted the outer fringes of death metal with their first two studio releases with Lord Worm at the helm. Although they didn’t get beyond the typical clichés of gore and irreverent apostasy, the framework for most of the highly varied progressive and technical bands, and also the grindcore infused variety, was pretty well set on their watch. Among the weirder bands to come out of this tradition is a quartet of highly ambitious musicians from Northern California with a peculiar fetish for extraterrestrial monstrosities in Rings Of Saturn. While perhaps not quite living up to the strongly esoteric character of Wormed, they could be likened to a fancier yet slightly more intelligible and easily digested version of them, alongside a greater presence of more traditional influences.
Coming straight out of a nightmare in a Sci-Fi/Horror movie, “Embryonic Anomaly” is about as tripped out of an experience as can be found in the current cesspool of genre experimentation going on in the past few years. While the vocalizations are a fairly orthodox mix of guttural barks and high-pitched shrieks that hearken to all the essential influences from Chris Barnes to Mikael Stanne, the rest of what is heard on here is very hard to nail down into one genre, save the ambiguous Progressive one, which encompasses just about every possible category in some respect. Blistering blast sections topped off with wild sweep picking sections and other assorted shred licks make way for highly dissonant breakdown sections and even a couple of off-kilter jazzy ballad sections and quirky keyboard moments.
Ironically enough, though there is a clear element of the virtuosic tendencies of Arsis and Necrophagist, nothing ever really crosses the line into being overtly excessive. If nothing else, the only thing that this band could be accused of having in overabundance is the dense atmospheric aesthetic that gives the feel of a perpetual plunge into infinite space. “Final Abhorrent Dream” is of particular note for its occasional departures into creepy keyboard territory that is somewhat reminiscent of both Morbid Angel and Limbonic Art. The surprises don’t end there as a flurry of mathematically precise chromatic phrases and Jazzy sounding riffs with too much distortion flies through the majority of “Embryonic Anomaly”, and “Grinding Of Internal Organs” introduces a new standard of brutal insanity alongside a few video game sounds.
For a new band in a relatively crowded sub-genre, words like impressive don’t even begin to describe what is at work here. It’s not music that’s tailored for memory retention, but the lasting impression of being brutalized by an endless sea of genetically modified aliens on some distant planet will beckon any consumer of death metal oddities back again and again for further auditory excursions. I’m at a loss as to how this band is associated with deathcore, but regardless to how that connection actually works, this is among the best examples of the potential that the genre can have when it is presented in a way that doesn’t simply throw unrelated parts together and is put in a context where its loosely defined nature can sound fitting. This is definitely a band to watch, and hopefully one with a long career ahead of them.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on February 28, 2011.
So here we have Rings of Saturn, a technical/experimental death metal/deathcore band who were conceived in the Summer of 2009. What makes their debut album "Embryonic Anomaly" so special? I'll tell you what.
From the cosmic, yet whimsical opening of "Seized and Devoured" all the way to the eerie closing track "End of Humanity," this album drew me in with its myriad of spacey riffs, juicy death vocals and clean, complex (but still unrelentingly brutal) drumming. And you know what? It kept me right where it lead me to, the whole way through. This album is truly a memorable experience, and I'll explain why.
After quite a few intensive listens, this album really started to grow on me. One reason is that the riffs, being stranger than anything I've ever heard, aren't that of modern technical death metal bands. They are their own thing completely, and are brilliant at that. These riffs will utterly perplex you, leaving you both scratching your head in wonder and wanting more; they grab your attention immediately. And unlike a lot of other releases, these riffs are found all throughout the album, and will continue to hold your attention the whole way through.
Second, the production of this album. "Embryonic Anomaly" features crystal clear production for being independently released. A lot of people would frown upon this, asking themselves if the band could replicate this sound live. However, in this case the crystal clear production is a perfect fit for the album. As for the instruments and how they fit in with each other, every instrument is perfectly audible and in sync with one another, with the exception of the bass, which I had to listen for. Even thought the bass is nearly inaudible, it does get a few chances to shine through on its own, notably 50 seconds into the relentless killing machine that is "Corpses Thrown Across the Sky," which features the most intense breakdown I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Ah yes, the breakdowns. There are many throughout the album, from the alien-esque one that wraps up "Invasion," to the one mentioned above, all the way to the spacey, drawn out one featured in "Final Abhorrent Dream." While there are many, I did not find myself annoyed like I do with most generic deathcore bands. If anything, the breakdowns add to the ferocity of this cosmic chunk of experimental death metal.
The lyrics. While being about alien invasion, they're still pretty stock death metal, so don't expect the seriousness you'd get from bands such as Obscura or The Faceless. Even though they contain the stereotypical death and gore of a stock death metal release, it fits perfect with the playful and mischievous atmosphere of this album, so no sweat.
This release is truly excellent in all it's alien glory, and I'm giving it a full 100% for its uniqueness, reasonable length, and for being extremely memorable.
Sometimes when I see the world ‘technical’ as a descriptor for a band, it makes me a little anxious. As of lately, the tendency for new bands, especially those in the death metal genre and its subsidiaries, is to throw massive amounts of technicality into music whether it needs them or not. Is it to show off prowess on the instrument? Is it to set themselves aside from their peers? Really the motives don’t matter, cause more often then not its futile when it comes to the writing.
That’s why Rings of Saturn is somewhat of an exception. Despite their tendencies to power through the breakdowns and over amplify their leads and solos with technical wankery,,the debut album Embryonic Anomaly is quite a fun and unique listening experience. In the end, that’s what counts.
Although firmly planted into a more modern, technical, and hardcore section of the death metal genre, Rings of Saturn does have enough throwback to the past of the genre to keep most fans happy. For every breakdown section that has become so tired, they have a section of balancing death metal badassness with a solid riff and rhythm section to balance it all out. Its this combination of old and new that really makes most of the songs such a blast to listen to.
Of course, even with their take on combining old school death metal roots and enough modern deathcore elements to please a modern fan base, the true unique part about Rings of Saturn is their ‘spacey’ and almost progressive like writing. Songs tend to wind their way through a variety of sounds and structures and their leads have an almost video game like computer sound to them. Similar to what Gigan has been doing but with less focus on atmosphere of the album. This very mature take on the music really ices over the cake more often than not as songs have a multiple listening value to them as a listener can take the time to delve into a bit more than your usual death metal act. This makes the album last longer too.
Rings of Saturn and their debut Embryonic Anomaly just came as a large surprise to this reviewer. With a duel vocal attack of hisses and roars, a sense of mature and progressive attacks on the structuring, and a blend of old school death with new school core as a foundation, this album just highlights what modern death metal can be. Looking forward to hearing what else this band conjures up in the future in their science fiction based worlds of brutality.
Originally written for http://www.metal-observer.com