Driving home from work near dusk, I tend to bask in the oranges and purples that splash the horizon, as the sun tucks itself in for the day. That always get my imagination going as I gaze off into the distance (you know, at red lights) and think about the beyond. When that time of day comes later during the summer, my sky worship often is accompanied by an adult beverage (not in the car at this point!) to numb me as I appreciate what’s in front of me.
Every time I have listened to “Son of Earth and Sky,” the second record from Nordic psyche dreamers High Priest of Saturn, it’s made me think of that exact time of of the day. Funny enough, for all of my visits with the album, I haven’t ingested it at that time. I guess I need to fix that. The band’s mix of scorching psych, doom, and vintage rock reminds of artists such as Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony, and Witchcraft, and the five songs that spread over this record easily can grab your daydreams and pull you toward the sun and stars for a journey that will push the boundaries of your mind. I get lost in these songs every time I hear them, and their healthy blend of magic from the past informed by the present and future is utterly intoxicating.
High Priest of Saturn have been around about a half decade now, debuting in 2013 with their great self-titled debut, a 4-track, 41-minute album that only hinted at what was ahead for them. On this new record, the band–Merethe Heggset (vocals, guitar, bass, organ), Martin Sivertsen (guitars), Andreas Hagen (drums, guitars), Ole Kristian Malmedal (organ, Fender Rhodes piano)–the band pushes its ambition even further into the stratosphere. Everyone sounds in perfect harmony with one another, and not just in the musical sense, that these songs do an amazing job building into creations that go in places you don’t expect when they start.
“Aeolian Winds” is your 10:34 opener, with a heavy doom storm hanging overhead, and the first mind-altering waves of organs bleeding heavily. Heggset’s bewitching singing is a little washed out, giving it a numbing feel, and as it buzzes along, it gets hazier and mystifying. Later, we head into space, with a trippy section pushing in, the playing really catching fire, and the smoking display stretching to the finish. “Ages Move the Earth” has a strong opening, with guitars rumbling, and the melodies encircling. Organs form a fog that hovers over everything, while Heggset’s singing feels hushed yet powerful, pushing the tale along. The playing conjures the sense of an incense-like smear as the song rolls along, and the final minutes are made up of an electric, high-powered jam session.
The 8:41-long title cut moves quietly at first, feeling like a cool trip through the heart of nighttime. Keys drizzle like honey over the track, with the song taking on a Pink Floyd vibe, especially when it comes to Heggset’s singing and phrasing. The guitars fire up and spread a bluesy haze, with the organs glimmering along with them, and the band pushing harder and unleashing heat. Heggset’s singing re-enters the scene toward the end, and the band lets the piece slow to a closing crawl. “The Warming Moon” bristles as it opens, with fuzzy doom and singing that reaches for the clouds. Then all of a sudden, the pace bursts and the band starts trucking heavier than ever before. The organs char, every elements hits its groove, and the cauldron’s boil slowly fades out. Instrumental closer “The Flood of Waters” starts easily, with a cooling effect, and as the track goes, it builds intensity. The guitars starts to sizzle alongside the steaming organs, and their mesmerizing formula provides one final mind-twisting jolt before they head off into the night.
High Priest of Saturn are building toward their creative apex, and “Son of Earth and Sky” is an enthralling step toward their ultimate destiny. The band is on fire here, though they do a great job tempering the embers until they need to rage in full. This is a record perfect for when the daylight begins to yawn, the sky changes faces, and you’re ready to think about what lies beyond the horizons.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/highpriestofsaturn/
To buy the album, go here: http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/
For more on the label, go here: http://svartrecords.com/