Saturn’s Cross is the newly formed project of Sebastian Montesi, a Canadian artist who has spent considerable time in black/death metal bands Auroch and Mitochondrion. This debut album Cheat Death is far removed from the sound of those bands, foregoing traditional instrumentation altogether in favor of a synth-heavy sound that delves into darkwave territory.
The early cut “Hell to Pay” gives a good example of the album’s approach, opening with hearty kicks that give way to an expansive, atmospheric sound built on bright synth leads and disembodied vocals across droning pads. “The Past Is Never Dead” and “The Violence” share quite a bit of sonic ingredients with the aforementioned track, making up for the relative lack of variation with solid programming and effective application of the album’s core elements of sound. “Last Night We Said a Great Many Things” is a definite highlight of the record, starting with a deceptively quiet intro before washes of caustic noise and distorted vocals briefly take over, subsiding to showcase a simple synth hook and Montesi’s vocals cutting through the ethereal fog. While a bit overlong at just shy of 10 minutes, the title track “Cheat Death” features minimal vocals and serves as a canvas for Montesi’s programming prowess with waves of distorted synths alternating against sprightly leads, while “Exit Visas” excises the vocals entirely, working a hip-hop-inspired beat beneath whistling synths to craft a brief yet infectious instrumental.
A complete departure from the genres he was working in previously, Sebastian Montesi has thrown all caution aside and boldly plunged into a new world with Saturn’s Cross. Many artists have faltered with such audacious attempts to set themselves apart in a new genre, but Cheat Death largely sticks the landing and establishes Montesi’s project as a promising act with a distinctive sound that will certainly find dedicated devotees in little time.