Rings of Saturn

Dingir

01. Objective to Harvest
02. Galactic Cleansing
03. Shards of Scorched Flesh
04. Feast Upon their Bowels
05. Faces Imploding
06. Peeling Arteries
07. Hyperforms
08. Fruitless Existence
09. Immaculate Order
10. Utopia

[02/05/13]
[Unique Leader Records]

For a band so young, Rings of Saturn have become strangely notorious in such a short career. The last thing the already controversial genre of tech-death needed was a band with roots in deathcore born out of the technological age in both digitally processed aesthetic and a chaotic, unfiltered attitude. In that regard, Rings of Saturn are a product of their environment, aligning themselves firmly on the overindulgent side of the genre of technical death metal (a la Viraemia and Brain Drill) for their debut album, Embryonic Anomaly. It’s easy to see how a band as extreme as Rings of Saturn can be so polarizing at first glance.

Fortunately, Dingir sets the bar high for Rings of Saturn on just about every front. The emphasis is still very much on technical showmanship and extremity, but the band are starting to show signs of focusing on what’s truly important — the music. Dingir sees the band making new strides in songwriting and musicianship instead of relying solely on the thinly veiled gimmick of being as brutal and technical as possible. Breakdowns are less frequent and the signature sweep-picking sections help to move Dingir forward in a more melodic fashion rather than acting as their own little sideshow. Dingir is an album with much more substance and direction, where ideas start to become properly executed with eyes fixed on the big picture — something that Embryonic Anomaly sorely lacked.

While the main flavor of Dingir involves a fair deal of primal deathcore brutality and somewhat whacky instrumental prowess, Rings of Saturn shine brightest during their melodic flourishes. Off-kilter riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Between the Buried and Me record pop up from time to time, and closing instrumental ‘Utopia’ borrows heavily from modern progressive metal atmospheres. Rings of Saturn show all the potential in the world to be a serious contender in forward-thinking music, and Dingir takes them a step closer in that direction despite the slapsticks.

Sonically, Dingir still falls short of excellence despite being streets ahead of Embryonic Anomaly and its many missteps. The genre and aesthetic that Rings of Saturn strive to achieve does call for a very precise and cold atmosphere, but the production makes Dingir feel lifeless much of the time. The largest offender being the programmed drums, which are devoid of any dynamic when it comes to note velocity to the point where the entire drum performance can be boiled down a handful of samples. This makes bouts of speedy blasts almost obnoxious as the same overbearing snare tone overshadows everything else in the mix. A more organic and diverse percussive approach (as well as a touch more bass guitar presence representing the lower frequencies under all the janitorial work) would send Dingir into the stratosphere.

A call for subtlety seems counter-intuitive for a band built on excess, but Rings of Saturn are doing themselves a disservice. There is a plethora of brilliant musical ideas in the form of tasteful guitar virtuosity, progressive songwriting, and even oddly beautiful melodic hooks, but they’re watered down with egregious wank and a handful of poorly timed and executed breakdowns. Dingir undoubtedly sees the band at a new plateau of musical maturity, but there’s still room to grow for these young tech-death acolytes.

Rings of Saturn – Dingir gets…

3.5/5

– JR