Review Summary: A stronger emphasis on structure is an improvement, yet still the same over the top Rings of Saturn we know.
Attempt to be as technical and brutal as possible.
This seems to be the major focus of technical deathcore band Rings of Saturn. Whilst there is a stronger focus on song writing than on their debut, what you’ll find upon listening to their sophomore effort “Dingir” (pronounced deenjeer) is sweeps and tapping en masse coupled with breakdowns galore and inhuman drumming. There is no doubt that each band member is beyond proficient with their respective instruments (excluding the rather weak vocal performance), showing incredible skills in terms of technicality. Whilst it does succeed in assaulting your senses with a barrage of extreme metal, the structure and integrity of the songs suffer as a result. Unfortunately this is exacerbated by sub-par production values that do the album no favours.
Upon the release of their debut, Rings of Saturn gathered somewhat of a cult following. Many fans praised their technical prowess and unrelenting brutality, yet many criticised them for having a lack of direction and substance to the songs as compositions. “Dingir” sees Rings of Saturn attempt to combat those criticisms by placing more emphasis on song writing and not just a plethora of sweeps, blast beats, taps, breakdowns etc. This is evident, yet the improvement is still not enough to avoid the grating and repetitive nature of listening to multiple songs in one sitting. It still feels over the top and self indulgent, yet on a lesser scale than “Embryonic Anomaly”. As can be expected when the guitars are as they are on “Dingir”, the drumming is fast and brutal utilising copious amounts of blast beats and double bass. Whilst it initially may sound very impressive, further listening reveals the lack of originality or experimentation with drummer Ian Baker virtually never expanding past the standard technical death metal drumming style.
A major complaint many people have of this record is the production. Whilst most death metal thrives with a solid, deep and powerful sound to instruments, “Dingir” suffers from very thin and fake sounding production values. The guitars have a plasticy crunch when the lower end strings are employed which prevent the strong powerful sound guitar tones on albums such as “None So Vile”. The production on the drums also leaves a lot to be desired with the overbearing double bass and overall loudness of the kit. Many accusations have been thrown that Rings of Saturn program their drums, and whilst this isn’t true, it goes to show just how un-organic and overworked they sound.
There are certainly improvements, with the occasional riff and well placed breakdown getting my head banging on occasions. Songs such as the title track contain a decent riff or two, and “Objective to Harvest” has a very well placed and crushing breakdown. Despite all the aforementioned problems with the drums, they still do an excellent job of keeping pace and provide good support to some of the album’s better moments (yet become grating when listening to more than a few songs). The band certainly has potential yet lacks a strong songwriter at the helm.
Vocalist Ian Bearer is another liability. His lows lack power and volume with the generic deathcore lows akin to that of Alex Koehler (Chelsea Grin) and Adam Warren (Oceano). They sound as if projected from the throat rather than the diaphragm, resulting in Bearer’s “growls” coming across as thin as the production on the guitars and drums. His highs are a notable improvement and are used to good effect in places, yet lows are the staple of death metal; with a lacklustre vocal performance being the result.
Overall “Dingir” is an album that suffers from sub-par production values as much as song writing. Deeper and more traditional death metal production values would have greatly benefited the album. The stronger focus on song writing in comparison to their debut is a plus, and hopefully a similar improvement in structure will be found on their next release. The talent is there, and with a stronger song writing and better production, Rings of Saturn have potential to release legitimately decent technical death metal material.
• Technical prowess
• Some nice breakdowns and riffs on occasion
• Stronger songwriting focus (yet still leaves much to desire)
• Over indulgence of said prowess
• Sub par vocals
• What bass?
• Grating when listening to multiple songs in one go