Saturnalia Temple – Paradigm Call (Listenable Records)

Friday, 8th March 2024
Rating: 8 / 10

Doom metal has blossomed into this outward, expansive genre – incorporating all sorts of influences that can be dark, bluesy, gritty, and dismal all in the same outfit. Swedish band Saturnalia Temple embrace an occult meets stoner/psychedelia prism of this style, together for 17 years while releasing a series of EP’s, singles, and three albums to set the stage for their fourth studio full-length in Paradigm Call. Two-thirds of the lineup is new to the group – but they have experience in other acts as bassist Gottfrid Åhman and his brother drummer Pelle Åhman played together for over a decade with In Solitude. The purity of sound is not in question – this is churning, old school doom with the right combination of evil riffs, sadistic vocals, and slower tempos to keep the underground hordes thoroughly entertained.

The use of distortion guitar effects never overcomplicates the sheer heaviness of Tommie Eriksson – coupled with his vicious, extreme vocal approach, it’s a duality that slams home those deep, dark crevices present in these songs. Because this three-piece delivers the sound you hear, there’s intentional spots where each musician gets ample shots at musical spotlights – be it the opening drum groove for “Black Smoke” or the simplified bass riff that hooks you in like a snake slithering for prey on “Kaivalya”. No sense of digital samples or triggers exists for these guys – they soak in the style of the 70s to a tee, when Black Sabbath ruled the metal landscape, Tommie taking in a bit of reverb-heavy trickiness on his vocals to give his delivery a bit more Celtic Frost-like punch especially on the grunts for early highlight “Revel In Dissidence”. Quality doom possesses that slow into painfully dreary variation song to song – which is what you’ll get here, feeling every guitar note bend, plodding bass line, or heavy-handed snare hit.

The weak will stray away from Saturnalia Temple – the faithful already welcome to the reflective despair present on Paradigm Call. This scribe imagines small club settings or doom-oriented festival audiences raising a glass, pint, or favorite beverage in homage to the honest material pouring out of your speakers.

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