Despite their smaller size, SATURN is a band that has been kicking since 2003, releasing two full length albums, with a follow-up EP in 2018. “Stomping Grounds” is a fascinating release that packs a bit more of a punch than their previous albums.
SATURN is typically a fairly ominous band. Whether this is in the lyrics or the hazy, atmospheric musical landscape that they craft, most of every song has some kind of darkness layered into it. While this bleakness is omnipresent in “Stomping Grounds,” the atmosphere is ditched for stronger guitar licks and more dynamic lead work. While this does stand out a little next to some of their past work, the sound continues to compliment their strengths and avoids ditching their old sound completely. In terms of a band’s evolution, this is the “Goldilocks Zone” that most bands would strive to achieve.
To try and classify this release into a genre would typically land it somewhere in the alt-rock arena, but distinctive metal-inspired riffs flow through a few tracks. “August Heat” has this lead guitar that takes over the mix that sounds straight off a Black Sabbath album. The fuzzy hard-rock chords that flow through the title track further exemplify this idea.
Despite the “metal” comments, a strange similarity can be drawn to Gorillaz. Vocally, the similarities are occasionally uncanny. The filter layered over Brett Fieldcamp’s vocals in “A City Split By A Mountain Range” is distinctly similar to what Damon Albarn has done in the past. Take this with the synthetic drum work, sweeping synthesizers, hollow production and cryptic lyrics and the likeness to Gorillaz is undeniable. This all being said, it never feels like a cheap rip-off. SATURN establish their own identity without truly sounding like copycats.
The black tone of this album carries on to “Dorothy Gale,” a track that discusses a tornado, presumably one that hit the band’s hometown of Moore in 2013. Taking the title from the full name of the lead character in “The Wizard Of Oz,” the song discusses this Dorothy that comes and destroys everything in the narrators life. The literalness of this track can only come in the eye of the beholder.
“Stomping Grounds” is a truly excellent EP that helps establish a new sound to these local veterans. Demonstrating their immense talent, this release is not one to be passed over.