Saturnalia Temple

Aion of Drakon

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This inaugural full-length from Sweden's Saturnalia Temple (an EP and split release predate it) has much to live up to, given the "Black Sabbath on peyote" reputation that precedes it -- not to mention an increasingly competitive landscape where occult-laced doom is concerned. Yet there's certainly hope that something wild and wonderfully weird is afoot when the brief, majorly distorted and effects-laden "God Is Two" initiates Aion of Drakon like some kind of lost outtake from Hawkwind's Space Ritual -- what hath these Swedes wrought? Unfortunately, Saturnalia Temple quickly disappoint these expectations by settling into a more traditional, unimaginative, and derivative doom template thereafter, populated by slothful, ten-plus-minute sonic behemoths doused in heavily echoed, vibrato-laden vocals learned somewhere betwixt the Sons of Otis and Reverend Bizarre schools. "Black Magic Metal" is mildly distinguished by psychedelic wah-wah squeals and solos akin to vintage Sleep; "Ancient Sorceries" knows only one speed -- slow, slower, slowest, near stalling -- until a lysergic guitar solo at last enlivens its final moments; "Sitra Ahra Ruled Solitary Before...Creation" replaces lyrics with unintelligible whispers, whoops, and sighs, possibly because not even Saturnalia Temple knew what the heck it all means; and closer "Fall" reflects its name in a tiresomely cyclical descending riff loop -- imagine a StairMaster from hell. Ultimately, only the title track veers from predictability in significant fashion, and then it's to deliver an endlessly stuttering riff repetition that can, at best, get tiresome pretty quickly and, at worst, may induce complete drooling catatonia long before its 11 minutes conclude. You can also forget about the band's parallel obsession with occult subjects because no amount of mystical imagery can congeal into anything truly intriguing when parlayed by mostly ineffective vocals, lacking both conviction and feeling -- so much for that! In short: Saturnalia Temple have some work to do before they can rise above the competition and make a name for themselves. Better luck next time.

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