Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saturnalia Temple's Aion of Drakon

"I do not claim to make good music. I do claim to make occult or dark magical music, much of it owing to the fact that this is my everyday dedication, just like some people watch TV every day (and if you're Gene Simmons there may be great songs also in that). Someone who is not into occultism or magical initiation at all could still possibly capture something of that nature, but then it would be coincidental, or aimed for entertainment. Nothing wrong with that. But I'm not trying to entertain an audience. To say that an audience is necessary for an artist is to me only true if you're coming from a superficial perspective where you only create to reach out to people and to gain something in return. If one has an occult, magical initiatory attitude, music, once created takes on an immanent nature and is in itself a great reward."

--Tommy Eriksson, Saturnalia Temple

Between Saturnalia Temple's Aion of Drakon, Black Oath's The Third Aeon, Bloodiest's Descent, and Loss' Despond, 2011 was ripe with debuts in the doom department. None more auratic than this one.

Saturnalia Temple is very occultist, which is manifest in both their lyrics and sound (if that's possible). If occultism could have an embodiment in sound, this would be it. They immediately remind you of Electric Wizard. Next they remind you of Black Sabbath. Now take those two influences and mix it with 70's psychedelic rock and you have an incredibly unique brand of stoner-doom. The riffs are fairly simple and they're played over and over, which might normally be a bad thing except these riffs are thick, fuzzy, and reminiscent of Tony Iommi's Sabbath-style riffs; they burn themselves into your mind. The drug-induced vocalist (which has to be the case... if Tommy Eriksson's not on drugs he's an even more brilliant vocalist than you'd originally think), who sounds surprisingly similar to Geddy Lee at times, is just incredible - the vocals complete the hypnotic/psychedelic/druggy sound of this album. Tommy's also a member of the Swedish magical order 'Dragon Rouge' and an occult writer. He published "Mörk Magi" in Swedish, released through Ouroboros Produktion in 1998, which presented the initiation path on the tree of knowledge, also known as Kliffot, and other subjects closely related to the dark draconian current. Simply, he's more than just a vocalist, he's a writer and a lyricist as well.

At times Aion of Drakon sounds like it's in slow-motion. Other times, like in "Fall," around the 4:19 mark, you get a decently fast psychedelic guitar solo that's just mind-numbingly effective. The psychedelic effects are scattered throughout the album and they allow the lengthy tracks to get some air. Saturnalia Temple takes a very free attitude towards songs. The music doesn't depend on technicality or dynamics or song structures, but rather heavy textured guitar sounds and atmosphere. The production is beautiful, the album is layered beautifully, and the result conveys ultimately exactly what it's supposed to - hypnotic, mesmerizing doom that echoes and invokes ancient magical powers from long forgotten places. "God is Two" and "Sitra Ahra Ruled Solitary Before the Creation" were inspired by the Qliphotic Qabalah (embodiment of evil in Jewish Mysticism). There's some serious thought and knowledge behind the music here, which just makes it all the better. When asked in an interview: "of all the written (and musical) knowledge from the past that has been lost, how much of it can be rediscovered? Can modern discoveries on the creation of the universe, scientific or otherwise, be reconciled with the old creation stories? How can we look into the Devil’s Eye again?," Saturnalia Temple responds "it is quite intriguing that the oldest creation story, the Indian, begins with a universal sound AUM (OM), and String Theory also talks about a sound vibration in creation. In Sanskrit this AUM is the sound of Creation, the sound of Destruction is HA. Quite suitable also in view of modern western language. Ha!"

For fans of Kyuss, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Back Sabbath, or even Om, this should come highly recommended. This was THE stoner doom/occultist album of 2011. It's a total mesmerizer.

Originally written for my 2011 End-of-Year List on and as a review for Sputnik Music:

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