Artist: Rings of Saturn
Imagine being the first human to step foot on an alien planet after countless years, months and weeks of searching for signs of life. Upon reaching this utopia of scientific and cultural awareness–confirmation that we, as a race, are not alone–you are greeted not with kindness and understanding, but anger, hatred and violence. Rings of Saturn’s sophomore full length album, Dingir is a similar experience. Showing the culmination of a band which spent a release searching for a unique combination of heavy and technical, Dingir attacks the listener full-force with uncompromising brutality and shred which will rend skin, break bone and blister ears.
First and foremost, Rings of Saturn are an instrumentally-driven band–this has been true even since their debut full length, Embryonic Anomaly. Dingir, however, shows a much-progressed and refined sound which bases itself more off of show-offy soloing and pointlessly fast blast beats. Dingir, instead, is a playground of technical diversity, with drop-of-a-dime time changes a plenty in “Objective to Harvest,” and fluid, adaptive drumming abound in “Peeling Arteries,” Rings of Saturn manage to provide a more accessible and intricate sound without compromising on the density and tight-packed technical death-metal influences which garnered them fandom from their first release. While the drumming is still lightning-fast and the guitar playing more than matching it’s tempo, the manner in which each of these instruments are played seems less focused on overwhelming the listener and more focused on providing an interesting, immersive soundscape in which the listener can get lost with absolutely no desire to become found–this is especially true in the climactic album finale and instrumental powerhouse “Utopia,” which contains hard-hitting breakdowns and oddly-melodic punk-esque moments alike.
While the instruments’ improvement has definitely done wonders for Rings of Saturn’s sound, the burden of Dingir’s improvement over their past material lies on the vocals. The vast diversity and innumerable ranges covered vocally by Rings of Saturn is nothing short of marvelous. “Hyperforms” and “Peeling Arteries” are exemplary tracks where this is particularly evident, where the only thing matching the grimey heaviness and screeching heights of the fretwork are the vocals which compete for the limelight. While vocally, Rings of Saturn could still use minor improvements, those improvements are no longer issues of quality. Rather, they are issues of quantity–too frequently did I feel the need to check my watch and wait in anticipation for the next punishing vocal segment in between shredding solo after shredding solo.
The use of instrumental breaks between moments of intense vocal density adds to the dynamic nature of Dingir. While in the grand scheme of things it turns out to be a minor downfall of the album, it is also one of the means by which Rings of Saturn truly excel above their peers. By segregating moments of instrumental intensity and vocal hyper-brutality, they do not force their listener to split their attention. Rather, the pounding drums and lacerating guitar take turns pummeling the listener to their knees before the vocals serve as the figurative gunshot or curb stomp which executes the listener without hesitation or reprieve. Because of the staggering between the vocals and their instrumental backdrop, moments of rest on Dingir are rare–however, when they do appear, as seen in the conclusion of “Fruitless Existence” or the beautifully melodic introductory segment of “Immaculate Order,” they demand the listeners full attention and are nothing short of awe inspiring.
While your forays on the foreign planet may not have been entirely satisfactory–as they undoubtedly resulted in a painful, punctuated execution–they were necessary. For now, as so many human scientists have dreamed of doing, an alien species is using your cadaver as a means of studying and examining our race as a whole. Likewise, Rings of Saturn’s Dingir does the same to the likes of technically infused deathcore from across the globe. Splitting both genres clean down the middle and dissecting their innards, Rings of Saturn cohesively take the best elements of both and fuse them into a technically marvelous, crushingly beautiful release which does nothing short of breaking the listener’s kneecaps, but still leaving them begging for more.
For Fans Of: Nexilva, Beneath the Massacre, Cytotoxin, Ingested
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism.