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Saturnine > Saturnine > Reviews
Saturnine - Saturnine

Cross the Valley of Fear - 90%

NoKnownName, March 17th, 2014

When blackened doom metal started in the late 1990s, it only made sense that blackened sludge metal crawled out of its freshly reanimated corpse. While there was only one band playing the the style until 2005, there has been a slow trickle of blackened sludge bands forming since 2007. A common aspect shared by these bands is the fusion of blackened sludge with another genre, usually doom metal. Such is the case with Italy's self-proclaimed witches, Saturnine.

This self-titled demo, released in 2012, is full of doomy riffs blasted through a wall of century-old grime and then burnt to a blackened crisp in the fires of the raw vocals. The album's sound comes straight from the doom and black metal bands of the 1980s, with a sludgy twist added for maximum effect. The use of two guitars is interesting, with the lead having a thick, clear tone and the rhythm having a large, dirty tone with lots of fuzz. The dual guitars allow for the riffs to be audible, but still give the songs a dark, crushing atmosphere. Speaking of the atmosphere, this is where the black metal influence creeps in like a carnivorous worm into a coffin, awaiting its next feast. The atmosphere is what really takes this album from simply sludge to blackened sludge. The rawness and darkness that is carried throughout these songs is crushing. It's like being thrown into a musty tomb and choking on the dust. The intro and outro tracks in particular are great examples of this, along with the use of funeral bells on Stench of Decay. Another thing that adds to the atmosphere is the lyrics. Despite the less-than-excellent English, they manage to convey stories of death and occultism with the music setting the perfect backdrop.

They lyrics are given the proper narration by the band's lead vocalist Laura, whose slow, raw growls are a highlight of the album. The vocals compliment the guitars perfectly, and add more darkness to the overall atmosphere. The rest of the band also come together to create an incredible atmosphere. The guitar playing, while not technical, is also very good. The monolithic riffing fits in well with the pounding drums and the eerie, emotional soloing. The songwriting is great, with the only flaws being that sometimes the songs can get bit repetitive and that the bass could have been utilized a bit more. Aside from the six original songs, there is also a great cover of Bathory's classic Call From the Grave.

Overall, this demo is a great slab of demonic and atmospheric blackened sludge metal. It's chock full of doom, gloom, and monstrous riffs. The atmosphere is properly creepy and crushing, and performances are excellent. It's a phenomenal release, and one that belongs in the collection of any fan of blackened sludge.