Saturndust’s Self-titled Is a Lesson in Doom
Carl Sagan discovered his profound interest in the mysteries of our universe by the tender age of five.
“I went to the librarian and asked for a book about stars… And the answer was stunning. It was that the Sun was a star but really close. The Stars were suns, but so far away they were just little points of light… The scale of the universe suddenly opened up to me. It was a kind of religious experience. There was a magnificence to it, a grandeur, a scale which has never left. Never ever left me.”
I, too, have experienced an awakening of such proportions. While astronomy has been a big interest since my nerdy childhood days, it was a different science that moved me. I was eight years old when I picked up a record because of its cover. I remember getting home that day. I pressed play on my sister’s Discman without a single clue of what was bound to happen. Then, it hit me. That rumbling low end, the tempo changes – everything made sense. War Pigs was the first track on that album, and my life was never the same after hearing it.
Almost as instantly, Saturndust’s first full length hit home with the kid who sat in awe at the Planetarium and the kid who was ecstatic about discovering Sabbath and metal music altogether. Who the hell are these guys? Saturndust is a three-piece band formed in São Paulo – Brasil, who just dropped a masterful platter of their self-titled space doom music.
The overall sound of this album is massive – slow, low and crushing. Still, it is peppered with elements that keep it interesting through the whole listen, namely a slew of different guitar pedals, rhythms and synths that seem to creep in and out of the songs, providing a beautiful, chilling ambiance.
Gabriel Zander’s production and mixing work on this record needs to be praised. Every instrument sounds on point and distinguishable, no part is too loud or overbearing. Felipe Dalam’s voice is powerful, but distant, as if it is actually coming to you from outer space. This effect is akin to Electric Wizard, albeit performed here with emotion, not abrasiveness. The bass (courtesy of Frank Dantas) is rich and heavy, perfectly complemented by Marlon Marinho’s excellent drum work. Dalam tops off Saturndust’s music with amazing guitar work – fuzzy and dark, most of the time; occasionally reaching up for psychedelic and even dramatic heights.
The fact that every instrument gets to shine is a testament not only to this LP’s production but to this band’s great songwriting skills. Their brand of doom metal is dynamic, not droning. Not a single riff overstays its welcome, and every song feels unique when compared to the next.
Album opener “Gravitation Of A Hollow Body”, for example, begins with a sample of Dr. Sagan, abruptly cut by a towering monolith of a riff. Soon, this landing asteroid is joined by menacing drums and synths. Vocals come forth, and the track picks up its pace in a Sabbathian groove that would have old Ozzy screaming “Rock n’ Roll!” at the top of his lungs. It doesn’t last long, though, as the band drags it down to Master of Reality territory once again. This song is a statement, one that is understood right from the start.
Next, we have “All Transmissions Have Been Lost”, arising calmly and melodically from the wreckage of the previous track. How would you feel if you were stranded in space, with no communication? This piece progresses from a point of quiet hopelessness to the loud despair brought by isolation. “Realm of Nothing” is the third track of this LP and the one that would probably make more sense if released as a single. The vocals in this track are definitely more present than in the others. Also, it has quite an infectious groove that gets revisited throughout the song. It closes with a ripping guitar solo on top of that groove, reminiscent of some of Kyuss‘ best material (Demon Cleaner comes to mind). Then, a 2 minute interlude of synths and sci-fi noises bridges side A and B of this LP.
The final two songs in this release were the ones that stood out to me the most. “Hyperion” is my favorite track. It starts with a short drum intro which has that sort of tribal quality every good doom drummer should be able to grasp. Guitar and bass chime in beautifully. Notice how the syncopated strumming pattern is subject to subtle variations, adding depth to the rhythms displayed in this moment. The climax of the album is coming, and I am sacrificing one of the best lines I could come up with just so I won’t ruin it for you. Know this: it will make you believe you’re inside a Feelium gas chamber.
After that hauntingly beautiful peak, closer “Cryptic | Endless” showcases the best vocal performance along with the most memorable riff in this album, which comes in at the 1:22 mark. The final passage of this song ends the record as a wave that gently spreads over the sandy shore long past its breaking point.
Clocking in at roughly 45 minutes, Saturndust’s self-titled release is an amazing record, made even more impressive by the fact that it is their first full-length album. I am eagerly looking forward to what this band will come up with next, and you should too.