Rings of Saturn are a band that proves that no matter how over-saturated a genre of music may be, if you can do it right then you’re going to go places. This Bay-area five piece band burst onto the underground music scene in 2009 with their debut full-length, Embryonic Anomaly, which garnered the band a fan base of thousands and a spot on Unique Leader Record’s roster. Since then, the band has toured with some of the biggest acts in the deathcore/ death metal scene, stopping only to create their second full-length effort, Dingir. Fans of the band will be glad to know that not much has changed since Embryonic Anomaly, and what has changed is definitely for the better. The band’s signature hyper-technical riffing style is still as apparent as ever, along with the insanely low guttural vocals and light speed drumming. What’s new for Rings of Saturn is a newfound sense of structure and focus that results in an album that is audibly more mature and varied than their past work.
The album begins with “Objective to Harvest” which is a fairly straight-forward Rings of Saturn track that fans of the past record will be glad to hear, until around the middle mark when the song breaks down into an unexpected sort of slow, “spacey” section with some cool, melodic riffing soaring over the ambience. This brief moment of tranquility is crushed to smithereens by a massive chugging breakdown paired with a long, disgusting guttural that fans of Whitechapel’s “The Somatic Defilement” will be very familiar with. At this moment, the listener realizes that they are about to experience a record that displays all of the technicality, talent and speed of a technical death metal band in combination with the occasional but always heavy breakdowns of deathcore.
Given that Rings of Saturn is primarily a tech-death band, the guitars are clearly the center of focus for the record and the band’s sound as a whole. A wide range of metallic influence can clearly be heard in the vastly-skilled shredding of Lucas Mann and Joel Omans, and the different “feels” of the many riffing styles heard throughout the record are largely what make the songs stand apart from one another. Tracks like “Galactic Cleansing” and “Immaculate Order” showcase a much more melodic side of the band that was not nearly as apparent on Embryonic Anomaly. Some of the riffing (a lot of cool tremolo picking) and soloing in these tracks has an almost melodic death metal sort of feel, in the vein of bands such as In Flames or maybe even Darkest Hour. Those who enjoyed the somewhat progressive “aliencore” vibe of the last record will be sure to enjoy tracks such as “Shards of Scorched Flesh”, “Peeling Arteries” and “Fruitless Existence” where the guitarists showcase all of their incredible talent in full force. The title track in particular has riffs of all kind and perfectly blends together the overall feel of the album, which is exactly what title tracks are supposed to do.
With such a heavy emphasis on the guitars, one might assume that the other elements of the band might not live up to the talent demonstrated by the two guitarists, but the performances from the vocalist and rhythm section are equally as mentionable. The vocals tend to stick mostly in the range of bullshit-heavy, as is pretty much expected for a death metal band, but it is not all just monotonous lows here (take notes Impending Doom). Vocalist Ian Bearer, also has some very crisp and clear high vocals that are a perfect contrast to the spectacularly slimy gutturals. The bass can rarely be heard unfortunately, but in the few moments when it is apparent, talent can very clearly be heard. Some more focus on the bass-work of Sean Martinez would definitely be a welcome step forward on the next record. As for the drummer, this man is an absolute machine. There are a few times throughout where one cannot help but believe that the drums have had some help through triggering, but honestly it sounds great whenever it is used, so more power to them. Also worth mentioning is a neat little section of “Faces Imploding” when the drummer totally has you thinking that a beastly two-step is coming only to be lured back into death metal chaos, thankfully, drummer Ian Baker delivers that grizzly step that all of the hardcore kids will be ever-so thankful for in “Hyperforms”. This section doesn’t come off as corny or out of place at all, and just shows that the band knows the exact audience that they are playing to and that they know how to work a mosh pit, which is key for bands of this nature.
After nine tracks of face-melting death metal, the band makes a mature decision and ends the record with a lengthy instrumental track that allows the listener to reflect on the sheer brutality and technicality that they have just heard. Upon reflection, Dingir is a much more listenable record than it’s predecessor, and the offerings found here feel a lot more like songs, rather than just guitar porn. As one of the most anticipated death releases this year, Dingir definitely delivers, and the band should pride themselves on having made a clear step forward in their songwriting ability. If they continue on in this vein, Rings of Saturn could become the next big thing.
For fans of: Burning the Masses, Abiotic, Whitechapel, Origin, Aegaeon.
Review by: Nick Terheggen
Be sure to pick up the album February 5th on Unique Leader Records!
For now download the album in its entirety by clicking “Dingir” below.