Review Summary: "Regnum Saturni" isn’t exactly the American black metal landmark that preceded it, but Fell Voices still deliver with an impeccable piece of raw intensity.
Fell Voices have always taken a sort of comfort in the solace that comes with anonymity. Songs are formless voids lacking structure and names, giving an unsettling aura and mystique to everything the band does. Their first two records, Fell Voices
, featured two songs a piece with each simply being called “Untitled.” It should come as no surprise then, that despite finding a certain niche as American Black Metal darlings, the band is still very much underground. Despite a proper title with their third record, Fell Voices show no sign of changing the haze and intrigue surrounding them.
is a bleak and caustic record through and through. Praised for their live performances, Fell Voices recorded the album completely organically in a live setting. Thus it takes on a life of its own. It feels incredibly dense powerful, while sounding perfunctory in its natural sound. This comes at the cost of a traditionally smoother production, however, as the instruments can often sound tinny, the vocals distant, and the drums oppressive. None the less, it is a haunting experience. The combination of but a few members sounds surprisingly bold and explosive throughout the hour long onslaught. The fact that it comes together so well is a testament to the band’s keen understanding of their craft.
Featuring three tracks, Regnum Saturni
runs a little bit over an hour long. Much of the time is spent creating a scathing wall of sound that feels insurmountably dense. Hellish tremolo picked guitars and drums cut through each of the long form pieces, while vocals are but mere echoes lost in furious sounds. Returning are the drone and ambient influences that have been prominent in their previous works. In fact, much of Regnum Saturni
moves like one long form drone piece, with additions being made to merely accentuate the whole. It moves with purpose and intensity, but it remains stern and unyielding. The album opens up with the hypnotic “Flesh and Bone” and only grows from there. Much like the hurricane pictured on the front (taken from recent NASA photos of a raging storm on Saturn) the intensity only builds from here. Ending in a chaotic fury the song drones into “Emergence,” the album’s center piece and an absolutely beautiful and unforgiving track. It’s a focused and unrelenting song that builds into a wretched and fiery maelstrom that becomes almost oppressive. Very seldom is there a moment of clarity in the 20 minute runtime. Despite the exhaustion it’s absolutely exhilarating. When “Dawn” comes to a close it does so in a most peculiar way. It recedes meekly rather than ending in an expected and direct fashion. Cymbals crash haphazardly and anguished vocals reverberate weakly. Shockingly restrained, it’s the perfect way to end it all.
, in spite of the stunning performance, falls short in many regards. Though it may sound cheap, were Fell Voices not so on point on previous albums Regnum Saturni
would be much more effective. The atmosphere at times feels contrived when ambient sections are mere bookends to make leading into a song more convenient. Typically more eclectic, here Fell Voices are more likely to play a riff ad nauseum, with minutes being lost to one singular idea. But the album is more than the sum of its parts. While not quite the landmark we’ve come to expect, it is none the less an impressive addition to an already impeccable discography.