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Premiere: Saturn – “Rokktori”

In an interview with Dom Lawson, Saturn‘s guitarist/vocalist Robin Tidebrink said, “We’re trying to not copy anything but of course we’re influenced by the music that we love. It’s as simple as trying to create music that we would like to listen to ourselves.” If you remember one thing about these Swedish retro rockers, remember that, as it tells you everything you need to know about the quartet. As Tidebrink stated, Ascending (Live in Space), Saturn’s newest album, pours metal into a mold made by Judas Priest’s Sin After Sin or Budgie’s Never Turn Your Back on a Friend or the NWO_HM those records inspired. Yet Saturn sound fresh because they love what they’re playing. You can’t fake that kind of connection. So, sure, Saturn are easily tied to their influences, but their excitement is authentic.

“Rokktori” occupies the all-important second song spot on Ascending, providing a bridge from the hard rocking opener to the more progressive jams in the listener’s near future. If you have the means, pick speakers over headphones and let it rip because “Rokktori” functions best as a room-filler. Saturn recorded Ascending mostly live, so feeling the music in the same way the band felt the music is key. Luckily, the rewards come early.

Following scene-setting bluesy chords, “Rokktori” gets galloping thanks to Oscar Bo Valentine Pehrson’s nimble bass work. The tone, the progression, and the vibe is a dead ringer for past masters without coming off as a museum exhibit. Indeed, it’s lively, spry stuff, sporting no wrinkles. From there, the track rolls and tumbles with a young gun energy, recalling guitar-centric underground acts such as Universe or Winterhawk trying their hand at early Blue Öyster Cult. Tidebrink and Linkan Lindgren tag team riffs with a playfulness that must impress in concert. (They understand two guitars can call and respond instead of lazily locking in as a single voice.) Drummer Ted Carlson’s has an innate sense of swing, keeping things moving while hammering down the ‘one.’ Most importantly, though, Saturn come off as caught up in the music. You can picture them in the studio smiling, not calculating how to best generate album sales. In fact, they’d probably be satisfied if they only moved four units: one for each member. That’s enough when you truly love and believe in what you’re doing.

“Rokktori” appears on Saturn’s Ascending (Live in Space). The album will be released August 5 by Rise Above Records and it’s available for preorder now.

— Ian Chainey

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