In the 2005 documentary of Sam Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Tour manager Joey Severance said, “Metal is a brotherhood. That’s what keeps it alive. It’s in your blood. It’s the air you breathe.” And he’s 100% right. For me, Metal has been with me since I was a kid, teens, and through College. One of the labels that have always peaked my interest since 2009 after reading about them in PROG Magazine is Lee Dorrian’s label, Rise Above Records.
One of the new bands alongside discovering Blood Ceremony, ASTRA, Diagonal, Beastmaker, and Galley Beggar is a new band from Sweden called Saturn. They have released their second album this year entitled, Beyond Spectra which is a follow up to their 2014 debut Ascending (Live in Space). I’m new to Saturn’s music, but holy shit! These guys are very good.
The band considers Robin Tidebrink and Linkan Lindgren on Electric Guitars, Ted Carlsen on Drums, and Oscar Pehrson on Lead Vocals and Bass Guitar. The album cover which is done by Maldo Illustration to pay nod to Marvel’s own Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby as if it’s done right to give Sci-Fi a real kick in the gut. But let’s get to the music. Saturn honors the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as if the album was recorded between the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
You can tell Saturn shows the inspirations between Judas Priest, UFO, Iron Maiden, and Angel Witch. You can imagine both Sounds and KERRANG in the early ‘80s had reviewed an album like this during the heyday of the NWOBHM movement and the album got reviewed, they would have gotten some word-of-mouth. Now in the year of our lord 2017, Saturn honors the legacy of the movement with Space and Hard Rock at it’s finest.
The guitars from Tidebrink and Lindgren are lightning rods to raise the thunder between the minds of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton; Dave Murray and Adrian Smith; and UFO’s Michael Schenker and Paul Raymond. Oscar’s voice has eye-lifting momentum and at times jaw-dropping for me. You can hear the essence of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and King Diamond combined into a gigantic solar system in a parallel universe.
Listening to Beyond Spectra, you can close your eyes and imagine the ship is ready for ignition to be lifted off in space as if the band is receiving to prepare to hurtle through the cosmos with four centerpieces (reference to Ren & Stimpy’s Space Madness). The rumbling guitar riffs is riding down the highway with some revving rhythm sections on Still Young. The shuffling moments and duo guitar structures both rhythm and lead that makes it fucking good, is a nod to both Maiden and Angel Witch.
Opener, Orbital Command starts off with a classical spacey introduction for the first 39 seconds before setting the controls for the spaceship ready to make the jump to light speed and fly off into the outer limits. The double guitars are again eye-opening and in the 3 minute and 25 second mark, there is a melodic midsection, shows that they have landed into another planet and discovering that the aftermath of the battle is a gruesome mess and knowing they won’t come back from this.
Helmet Man features almost as if Saturn were doing a score for a Video Game as they continue to rev down the highway. It could almost be a theme to Marvel’s own Ghost Rider’s Johnny Blaze. He knows that the danger is near. And he has a plan ahead of everyone and doing whatever he can to stop the badness that is happening around and do justice his way and not the law.
It has this epic and militant sound thanks to Carlsen’s drumming as the guitars become a feeling essence between Ritchie Blackmore and Glenn Tipton while it becomes a warning with a terrorizing effect that are lurking behind their prey on Nighttime Badger. You can imagine the victim is tied up and knowing that their time is up and the lyric; “If you have seen the things that I’ve seen/You wouldn’t sleep at nighttime/If you had heard a word that I’ve said/You would not laugh at all.”
It’s a chilling and disturbing lyric. This character in the story, I can imagine is an outsider and never fitting in with the cool crowd in School as he plans his revenge to those who’ve hurt, bullied, and tortured him through the rough years in High School. Not only that situation, but there’s also another moment of selling you soul for fame and glory and the heavy price you pay for to the bitter end. I’ve adored this album from day one. It is worth listening to if you admire Saturn’s influences.
They’re not ripping off the NWOBHM movement, but they're honoring it and keeping the flames alive of the genre by making sure it is alive and well. For me in my opinion, Beyond Spectra is right in your alley. And to close out with the back cover disclaimer of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, “To Be Played at Maximum Volume.”