Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Review: High Priest of Saturn - Norwegian fuzziness is quite good! 83%

Behold these new doomsters directly from Trondheim, the home of the black/doom acts Furze and Faustcoven, but contrary to these bands, HPoS plays a sort of doom metal influenced mostly by Om and Electric Wizard and they do it quite well. This demo has 2 songs for 20 minutes of music and it's a very good first release by this promising young band led by Merethe, she's singing and she plays the guitar and the organ. She's really the driving force of this band, her charisma and talent might be something to experience live. Too bad I live on the other side of the Atlantic.

The first song "The Protean Towers" opens the demo and remains interesting during its 10 minutes. Like his title, the song has many different influences, ranging from psychedelic stoner rock with a huge spacey sound and an hotbox atmosphere to fuzzy doom metal with nice leads. The vocals of Merethe are very cool, atmospheric and soothing and without a lot of reverb like in many stoner bands. Indeed, they're not quite buried under the instruments. It reminds me of Cisneros's vocals but sexier! I must say that, while the band doesn't innovate much on any grounds, these vocals are pretty good, Even if you usually dislike female voices, it wouldn't be a dealbreaker because it's really part of their specific atmosphere and it really fits the songwriting, handled by Merethe.

Don't be fooled, HPoS is hardly a copycat band, they use the organ a lot and it gives them a very vintage sound nourished by Orange amps and of course, bell bottom trousers. The proeminent keys really gives us the reason the band is called High Priest of Saturn. Like fellow Scandinavians Saturnalia Temple, the band is not afraid to put a lot of work on their spacey and lush wall of sound and in the end, it's a charming success. There's a real will to embrace the 70s sound in their playing, it's not particularly heavy and it's not creating a huge wall of noisy indistinguishable riffs. Yes, it's fuzzy but it's more on the soft side, restrained and subtle. The guitar playing of Merethe and Andreas (also handling the drums) is slow and the leads are quite nice, full of psychedelia, the solo in the first song is fucking cool. The bass is loud and busy but it's also letting the organ do its own thing in the background. Listen to the short bass solo midway through "Crawling King Snake", it's damn tasty, same with the lovely amount of organs, Ray Manzarek would be proud! Concerning the drums, like the overall sound of this release, they remain slow but interesting and there's cool fills throughout the songs, the playing is ritualistic, heavy and full of cymbals.

Not a fan of Om's recent direction change? High Priest of Saturn will surely interest you. Add interesting guitar leads and mesmerising soft female vocals to Om's blend of slow ambient doom and you're in business. This was a good discovery and these guys have a lot of potential, along with the Norwegian doom scene (Summit and Resonant especially, but let's not forget Devil as well). I think that Lamented Souls' legacy finally paid off as we can clearly see a new wave of Norwegian doom to compete with the Swedish retro acts !

Listen to the album here: 

No comments: