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Having already proved their worth and potential three years ago with their stunning debut album Ascending, young Swedish band Saturn have evolved into something truly extraordinary this time round. In stark contrast to many retro-minded records currently doing the rounds, Beyond Spectra offers much more than affectionate pastiche and Luddite petulance. Instead, this is the sound of red-blooded heavy metal with its eyes focused on the depths of outer space, as the rampaging grooves and analogue hiss of prime ‘70s proto-doom, the swaggering boogie braggadocio of UFO and the stately grandeur of Sad Wings-era Priest collide in a mesmerizing shower of irresistible riffs, unearthly melodies and moments of shimmering psychedelia.
Fans of Saturn's first album will not be freaked out by the band's great leap forward, but Beyond Spectra is plainly an album driven by a broader vision and an enhanced desire to forge a unique path. Songs like opening intergalactic rager "Orbital Command" and the sumptuous interwoven dynamics and dark drama of "Nighttime Badger" proudly proclaim their debt to the pioneering heavy metal greats of the ‘70s but there is so much energy, verve and ingenuity on display throughout that Saturn sound much more like the future than the past. As much as they exist in the present day, it hardly needs stating that Saturn are huge fans of old school, analogue tones and the ageless allure of that classic ‘70s hard rock sound.
For those with a similar passion for that bygone era, Beyond Spectra offers an object lesson in conjuring ancient vibes and emboldening them with fresh perspective. The sound of yesterday, filtered through the limitless refractions of an unknown future but rooted firmly in the here and now, Beyond Spectra pulls off the neat and laudable trick of getting everything right and making it look easy, while also offering great substance to stir the soul and a few, jolting shots of originality and effortless cool. If you're lacking some steel in your aural diet, look no further. This band's fascinating voyage into virgin skies looks certain to provide all the nourishment you could ever need.