Review Summary: Uncertainty haunts my everything..
It isn’t very often that I find myself listening to a demo. Usually they are just a haphazard collection of a few poorly-recorded tracks with the purpose of interesting a record label, or just a way of having a point of reference to allow a band to adjust their songs for their first actual release. The majority of the time, they receive very little attention and have no real significance on the direction that the band chooses to take. But just occasionally, they happen to be a perfect illustration of the band and what they might become. In the case of Saetia, one of the most highly-praised bands of their era.
If you haven’t heard of Saetia, they were formed in 1997 in New York and existed for just under three years after which the drummer began Interpol
, the bassist went to form Off Minor
and later, the vocalist, a guitarist, the drummer and a bassist went on to play in Hot Cross
. This demo tape was around in the same year that the band formed and yet, it is brilliant. Whilst the first track, The Burden of Reflecting
is very enjoyable, it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the other three tracks. There are the pretty, lilting guitar melodies and the contemplative lyrics that Saetia would later become famous for and the passionate vocals which jump from spoken passages to unintelligible grating screams. This contrast with the beautiful instrumentation is one of the highlights and is epitomised on Venus and Bacchus
, the song that is arguably one of the finest in the genre. Saetia follow the calm / intense formula that a large number of screamo bands utlilised (and still do), with peaceful melodies breaking into intense passages but I struggle to think of bands who do it better. To write four songs as excellent as these in a full-length would be impressive but here they are, on a demo cassette, wrapped in the simplest cover with just song titles and a black-and-white flower.