SATURNIAN MIST "Gnostikoi Hai-Shaitan"


By Dr. Abner Mality

There has been a great increase in the amount of "ritualistic" black metal bands in the last couple years. By ritualistic, I mean bands that are REALLY deep into the mystical portion of their music and use it almost as a method to either summon otherworldly beings or increase spiritual knowledge. Something more involved than the usual blasphemic insults or praise of pagan gods. Dissection probably blazed this trail better than anybody (just ask Jon Nodtveidt, the next time you use a ouija board) but France's mighty Deathspell Omega have certainly also contributed.

Deathspell Omega would seem to be the biggest influence on Rex Mundi. These guys have a crisp and clear sound, neither too "necro" or too clean, they aren't obsessed with speed and their music is full of plenty of chants, Middle Eastern samples and a general feeling of "evil elegance". The seven tunes are fairly long and involved and seemed aimed at generating that "ritual" state of mind. I actually think "IHVH" is a decent album, but it seems to lack that extra spark of energy or decadence that could make it really memorable. It strives for that Deathspell Omega aura of complexity but just can't reach it. Well, few bands can, so that's not a deathblow for Rex Mundi. They're good at what they do, but it just doesn't move me.

Saturnian Mist hail from Finland, I believe, and look like another panda-faced band that takes themselves and their mumbo-jumbo too seriously. Yet there is a conviction to "Ghostikoi Hai-Shaitan" that the more refined "IHVH" lacks. There;s some rawness and power to Saturnian Mist...first track "The Regicide" barrels out with a fierce, almost death metal force more akin to bands like Absu or Goreaphobia than any Norwegian horde. My attention is aroused! Naturally, "The Regicide" is the best track, but the rest of the album is interesting and diverse to listen to. "The Consecration of the Temple" has a kind of warm Meditteranean feel to it that bands like Septic Flesh and Rotting Christ possess while "Temps-Des-Cranes" does in fact bring a freezing blast of so-called "true" black metal into play. The vocals are all over the place, from deathly growling to a kind of loud shouting chant to sinister rasps and even melodic female vocals pop up on "Aura Mystica", which sounds like a kind of occult debate between two opposing forces. Yes, the album is pretentious in spots, but not as much as some ritualistic BM I've heard. It is primarily a METAL ALBUM, using various forms of heaviness to transmit and enhance the ritual feel. One need not be a student of the mysteries to enjoy Saturnian Mist, but if you are that way inclined, the mysticism seems authentic and sincere.

In this case, I would have to give a nod of my cowled head to the Finnish adepts.