With “Dimensions“, UK’s Saturnian seem obviously influenced by the sinister blackened approach of Dimmu Borgir and the galloping melodies of Wintersun. Instead of simply combining these styles, the band takes things numerous steps further, creating a grand sonic scenery of impressive proportions. The result is “bigger than life”, even cinematic – Dark auras looming above brilliant bright orchestration, contrasted by a raw core of vicious black metal. A refreshing or an all-too-familiar listening experience?
Exploring an epic symphonic soundscape, you’ll find “Dimensions” is intricate and contains countless twists and turns. However, while Saturnian definitely stretch the limits of the genre, perhaps beyond what was thought possible, the attempt ends up being more technical than moving. To elaborate on that – while at first mind-boggling impressive, once the instruments stop playing – the blastbeats, the piano appregios and the unrelenting guitar riffs, then you must ask yourself – is new meaning being brought to the table? are Saturnian more than just a cold mechanical extention of their creative predecessors such as Dimmu Borgir?
The answer is a bit ambiguous. On one hand, the hardcore symphonic\BM fan might find “Dimensions” to be a killer album, and by the standards of the genre, it is one. The title track is amazing. Everything is “perfect”, even the mixing – but ironically, this initial perfection eventually becomes a creative boundary for the band, limiting them from making bold musical choices. While the album does soar with melody and is brutally heavy, the material feels coldly calculated, not to say replicated, thus failing to provide Saturnian with their own meaningful, unique voice. Why is that problematic? well, when it comes to BM, without a genuine vision, you can’t really channel the truly existential poisonous hatred & melancholy that the genre was born from.
Extreme metal is one of the best genres in heavy music, but in trying to triumph among other incredibly skillful groups, bands sometimes get blinded by their own dazzling instrumental abilities; Instead of means to an end, the technical becomes a meaning in itself – or rather an illusion, a transparent handicap not producing innovation but hindering the composition process. Such is the case with Saturnian‘s “Dimensions“.