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Am I the only one who likes the bird noises? - 96%

Nameless_Rites, December 17th, 2009

Saturnus play a quiet, brooding variant of doom metal. Although sharing influences with all the usual bands in this style - My Dying Bride, The 3rd and the Mortal, Anathema etc, their sound is instantly identifiable. This album in particular has generated a decent following for its take on "Angel and the Dark River"-era My Dying Bride, which incidentally is far better than anything My Dying Bride has ever done.

The best thing this band has going for them is their grasp of subtlety and finesse. So many bands playing atmospheric doom metal lack these characteristics and their songs simply drag on like a clumsy, monolithic freight train of boredom. Saturnus avoid this trap by building songs around a series of cycling riffs that gradually gain in intensity until reaching a dramatic conclusion. They manage to give their songs a delicate, feather-light feel despite some crushingly heavy doom riffs. The warm, organic sound of the production courtesy of Flemming Rasmussen helps here.

Musicianship is stellar all around. The guitarists are adept at playing clean/acoustic guitar melodies with feeling and passion as well as technical skill. Of special note is the excellent drumming courtesy of Jesper Saltolft. He doesn't do a lot of busy, technical playing, but he has a great grasp of offbeat syncopation and subtle polyrhythms, as well as some of the best tone and dynamics of any modern metal drummer. In a style of drumming where those attributes are frequently sacrificed in favor speed and dexterity, it's good to see someone who remembers how to make drumming musical and complementary to the song. Observe the way his rhythm gradually builds in heaviness through the last couple minute of "Christ Goodbye" and you'll start to notice just how much he adds to their overall sound.

"Paradise Belongs to You" is probably the best work from Saturnus overall. It's not a famous release, but continues to exert a quiet but undeniable influence upon many subsequent bands' work. Although their 2000 release "Martyre" has stronger songs, that album feels slightly disjointed - "Paradise Belongs to You" is a complete work instead of just a collection of strong songs.

And fuck it, I like the bird noises. It gives the album a sense of continuity and natural mysticism, even if it is a cheap and superficial way of achieving those feelings.