Sometimes the assault feels overwhelming. That’s when those Extreme Metal bands try to not only throw the kitchen sink at you but the whole friggin’ homestead. Suddenly, you got yourself a giant sonic Chinese Wall of Sound roaring mercilessly towards yer sorry ass. One that will threaten to swallow you whole. A noisy metal tsunami of sorts.
So, the only thing you really can do is take the proverbial elephant and cut it into pieces. That’s when the parts become edible and you’ll survive. Or you can just give up on them, which might not necessarily be a good option.
Well, Shamatanic of Saturnian Mist kinda feels that way. The record sends a huge wave of different shades of black and extremes your way. A full-frontal assault of ritualistic Black Metal. A virulent foray into the occult, as the band states with so many words.
“Chaos is the law”, they claim. And Saturnian Mist – and I quote – “…decided to create the ultimate album to spread their occult message over the world.” The record should arrive at our doorstep “…in all its glory and magnificence…”1) and in turn “…draw [us] into [the band’s] circle of rituals and firm beliefs.”
Wow, by the goat’s scraggly beard, that’s quite a chaotic statement. So, in other words, we should all just bend our heads in awe at the terrifying metal sounds oozing out of our loudspeakers. Because Shamatanic is magnificent in itself and – supposedly – delivers the frightful voice of the underworld upon us measly mortals.
Alright, challenge accepted. Let’s see what we got here.
Now and just for the record, Shamatanic ain’t this hit piece of pvre blackness directly from the pit of hell. Instead, you’ll get some heated alloy of sorts. Still, their fare is extreme enough, but more of a Melodic Black Metal offering that survives pretty well above ground.
And I cannot blame them. Those traditional frugal and barebone records hardly attract any fan outside the limited underground crowd. Whereas here a slightly less over-heated approach to things might even attract some creatures of the light. Of course, this is something many grizzled metalheads may violently disagree with. But what can you do, right?
At first, Ill-Mystic roars off with some melodic guitar riff that quickly surrenders to abundant use of percussion – mainly with wood instruments – and the relentless stomping of the drums that just forge ahead with no mercy. Yet, all of those sometimes pretty snazzy ideas get quickly submerged by the ceaseless gruff growls and rasps that shall not stop until the bitter end.
So much so that after about half of the record, peace-and-love went overboard and the ill-natured vocals started to grate along a few of this reviewer’s raw nerves, violent thoughts included. Or – in politically correct terms – RMR here suffered a bout of ‘sensory overload’. To add insult to injury, the ever-present vocals often steal the necessary room to breathe from the pretty impressive instrumental work on Shamatanic.
The vocal delivery is also largely monotonic and uniform, almost worse than what Agrypnie did a few months earlier on a different style. And that’s definitely not a good thing. Thus, the record ends up somewhere in the middle where Rogga Johansson‘s sometimes blackened Death Metal meets a troubled and agitated version of Rotting Christ.
But then, the album also sports pretty neat tracks like Altar of Flesh and Blood that are full of good ideas. Boy, it even comes with a juicy guitar solo. Yet, it also has this tendency to meander aimlessly about the soundscape. With weird monologues that probably make sense to the initiated and to those that are able to understand the growled lyrics, but that one is more something of an interlude than an integral part of a track.
So, apart from a rough mix and unnecessarily frantic delivery, the production and indeed the arrangement would also need significant rework to get an uplift in quality. Shamatanic sports a ton of good ideas that drown in a fever dream of elements thrown at you helter-skelter. You see, speed won’t fix inconsistencies, it usually aggravates apparent faults. In other words, to race down Black Metal lane, songwriting needs to be up to par. And I’m not seeing that here.
Shamatanic‘s initial excitement dies a quick death after track # 3 hits yer earphone. And after that, it’s a monolithic metal salad that seeks to pass a message. But it constantly forgets to use the tools at its disposal to convey it. Just shoving soundbites down everyone’s throat ain’t the solution.
So in the end, the RMR crew here appreciated a few of the underlying thoughts. The idea to go the ritualistic route, for instance. And also to lighten their somewhat crude style of former records and forge it into a different darkened piece. Yet, we weren’t necessarily impressed with the results.
Chaos is the law? Quite so.
|1.||Inherent typos corrected.|