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A review is a very subjective thing. For example, if you hate thrash metal it wouldn't make much of a difference whether you write about 'Bonded by blood' or some shitty trash bin. Therefore, if you're not into doom death I don't think it would matter whether you listen/review a master skill band or just some folks doing their music unsuccessfully. However, the case with me is that I am quite a fan of doom, but despite this fact, "Saturn in Ascension" didn't manage to totally get under my skin. Don't get me wrong, it has a several good moments, but it indeed has many downfalls.
So, I'd just suggest a several reasons for which it might not work with you (as it didn't with me). Firstly, the production, mastering, or whatever that makes us hear the songs in their final way is too 'touched'. I think that what makes this darkened music really beautiful (speaking of the genre as a whole) is that it has something raw to it and something very real. For example, get some doom/death classics like diSEMBOWELMENT's first album or Thergothon's demos - they are just SO MUCH MORE different from modern doom death and the reason might be lying in the fact that you can't create a doomy atmosphere when you make this music crystal clear.
Secondly, the constant mixing of clear and non clear vocals - you have this *growl*, *growl* *clear singing* type of melodic death metal singing that really doesn't do it for me. Hell yeah, it's not as bad as a metalcore song, nothing comes so near the hell as these metalcore no balls gay bullshit, so no worries, it's nothing like that, plus I know that many metalheads enjoy this type of singing. It's up to you and your tastes.
Thirdly, something with the guitars is not right, for I really don't feel sad. No sadness, no anger - this album evokes no emotions in me. As if I'm listening to a pumpkin. I can't say what is wrong with the music (hello, overproduction!) but at times I feel the whole thing is theatrical and lacking in atmosphere. And that's quite strange when you think about the amazing cover artwork, name of the album and titles of the songs.
On the other hand, this release has some good sides as well. For instance, if you enjoy more romantic metal than usual, even My Dying Bride-like moments, there are plenty here. So if you happen to enjoy your metal more tender at times and need that - cool, for this record is full of stuff like that. Something rare too is that you can hear acoustic guitars accompanied by miserable lyrics and for instance, one song that I greatly enjoyed is "Call of the raven moon" - it's plain acoustics, no rough stuff, no heaviness but I think that this works better for these guys than trying to do really heavy slow music.
On overall, I believe that this might appeal to many people, but I doubt it will become a favourite of someone who is more into the oldschool.
Saturnus is surely one of the biggest doom/death bands in the history of the genre. And having in mind what all the historic bands are doing at the moment, I think I can say Saturnus is the biggest name in the scene in 2012. After "Veronika...", a fabulous record based in a bad novel, I confess my expectations were high, because in my opinion "Veronika..." had everything: it was heavy, melodic, great riffs, great solos, great acoustic, great piano. It was an instant classic. When I pressed play to hear "Saturn in Ascencion" for the first time, I noticed in the first seconds of "Litany of Rain" I wouldn't be deceived. The sound was very close to "Veronika..." and soon the typical Saturnus dynamics kicked in for a 75 minute ride (in fact the first minutes of "Litany of Rain" could easily fit in "Veronika..." ). And well, I feel there's not much to say. It's exactly what was supposed to come from Saturnus. Great riffs, great arrangements, good melodies, the deep voice from Thomas, great drum details, everything wrapped in a production that's able to allow all these elements to shine on their own. This time I feel the keyboards have a different role in the music (the choir-like atmosphere in "Litany...", the pop melody of "A Fathers Providence"), but I think it's not in a way that's able to change the band's identity.
Overall, I think those who enjoyed the past Satunus records will enjoy this new one. Saturnus formula is used with the same mastery as before, but I think some of the last songs are not so good as the first 4. Still they have some good moments, except for "Call of the Raven Moon", which is, in my opinion, the less good moment in this record. The bonus track "Limbs of Crystal Clear" is a bit displaced when comparing the album song writing, but I think it was a good idea to resurrect the heavier doom/death sound of early Saturnus for the new generation of listeners.
Despite not being flawless both musically and visually (the front cover doesn't appeal me in any way), this is a great piece of work from a well matured band that was able to find their sound and their style... and I must say, they're doing it well.
It was worth the wait.
The album "Veronica Decides To Die" is one of the factors that helped me to make every winter the best time of the year, the melancholic melodies were swimming through the sound of the rainy weather for more than 5 years to create memorable memories. Another winter is coming in my place and the grand Danish group Saturnus is insisting to make this winter very special for me by releasing their 4th full-length album "Saturn In Ascension".
After about 20 years of creating wonderful doom death metal music, Saturnus is proving with this release that they are the best doom death metal act in the world today. The continuous successful releases "Paradise Belongs to You" and "Martyre" and the perfect "Veronika Decides to Die" were not the only winning cards for this band, because the sound of "Saturn in Ascension" is really rival and vital compared to the previous releases. This was a really good year for the doom metal fans around the world, because the amount of high quality albums was really huge, so I am really glad to catch this release and to call it "my favorite doom metal album of 2012".
The heavenly choirs of the track "Litany Of Rain" added a lot of eerie and atmospheric feelings to the total sound that I really like, the deep growling vocals of Thomas continued to impress me with every verse, especially in the tracks "Wind Torn" and "Forest Of Insomnia". The production of this record was somehow similar to the previous album, though the tune of the lead guitars in Veronica Decides To Die was somehow more obvious and more dynamic, and the sound of the drums in this record is really powerful and full of energy.
I was thinking that the two new guitarists wont be able to continue the same melancholic texture of the previous albums, but some tracks like "Between" and Mourning Sun" were a big slap on the face of these thoughts. The using of acoustic guitars in the tracks was really a bright touch on the dimness of the tracks, especially in the track "A Lonely Passage" that contain a heavenly female vocal part part that has been performed by the singer Laurie Ann Haus. Though there are unlimited beautiful things in this album, but I cant hide my hate toward the artwork, it looks so cheesy and undervalued to me and I consider it as the worst artwork that has ever been done by Saturnus.
The faster tempo of the track "A Fathers Providence" reminded me of the track "Pretend" from the previous album, the same attacking vocal technique and the same fast stepping drums. I have to admit that I really liked the keyboards and the piano that have been added to the tracks of these records, they added more depth and more colors to the whole memorable portrait. The fans of the early Katatonia and the early Anathema will love this record because there are a lot of old school doom death metal influences in the riffs and the drums.
At the end, I can consider this album as a gift from the gods of metal to make this winter special and memorable for all the fans of doom death metal around the globe, if you are searching for some doomed and melancholic atmosphere to make the cold season warmer for your ears, then you have to get your copy of this album right now. This is not a "Veronica Decides To Die Part II", its something different and fresh, so don't waste your time and start seeking for your favorite moments in this record immediately.
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