Saturnian Mist
Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan

As usual at this time of year, I get a few CDs for review that came out late the year before. Such is the case with Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions who sent me Ave Maria‘s Chapter I and this, the debut from Finland’s Saturnian Mist. And while Ave Maria left me unsettled but only slightly impressed, Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan is a much more satisfying and fully developed album of adventurous, ritualistic black metal that at times reminded me a little of Weapon’s theological hues and slight death metal sheen.

Being my first exposure to Saturnian Mist, I had no expectations, but I was greeted with a genre bending form of black metal that sounds more like something from Germany rather than Finland. It’s got an earthy, loose production, a multi faceted, demented vocalist, and a virile and vile sense of dynamics that mixes raging black metal, dank occult ambiance and themes and a sliver of death metal heft. It all comes together to form an admittedly not immediate album, but an excellent one that takes several listens to unfurl its occult malevolence.

Admittedly, the album takes a bit to get going, but once it clicks (around “The Watcher’s Feast” for me), and does burrow into your mind, it warrants going back and revisiting the earlier tracks that initially seemed a bit of a mess. For example opener “The Regicide” initially comes across as a down tuned black metal number with gravelly blasts and grooves, and second track “Bythos in Quintessence”  with its shouted opening and staggering pace, seems just out of place. However, active repeated listens to each track  reveal much more; some previously unheard whisper or chants (“Consecration of the Temple”) , a shift in guitar tone,  a vitriolic vocal rant (“Sacrifice of Faces Unbroken”), a subtle layered melody line,or a feverish more ambient ambient track with female vocals (“Aura Mystica”).

However, Saturnian Mist isn’t just some artsy, trendy black metal band band, as they can bare their teeth at will as heard on the blistering “Temp-Des-Cranes” mid section of “Sacrifice of Faces Unbroken” or title track. And while these bursts are certainly not the norm on Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan , they are rendered as convincingly and a menacingly as the rest of albums heaving,occult and atonal lurches, which to be honest are what make this album one of 2011s undiscovered gems that any discerning black metal fan should go back and check out.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 19th, 2012

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