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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 25 May 2017
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on 3 September 2012
When 'grunge' was taking off in the 90's there were a few bands who stood somewhat in the shadows. Left behind by the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and even the lesser 'grunge-lite' acts that came along a little later (Silverchair, Candlebox, Creed). Among those left behind where The Afghan Whigs and Screaming Trees, the bands fronted by The Gutter Twins. Since the break-up of both bands, they've kept exceptionally busy while remaining just under the radar - Dulli has been busy with his Twilight Singers project, while Lanegan has added a few more records to his incredible solo cannon (and that's not even touching on the wealth of collaborations).

Saturnalia isn't their first collaboration together - Lanegan has appeared on a number of Dulli's Twilight Singers' records - but it marks their first as The Gutter Twins. In many ways it's the record that you would expect from them both, it explores the same darkened streets (Seven Stories Underground), embraces the darkness that surrounds them (Idle Hands), yet never giving up hope (Who Will Lead Us?).

Sonically, there's the soul of the Whigs, the gospel of the Trees and I Was In Love With You sounds like a gothic Beatles number. It's not often that you can say there's a real etheral quality to guitars that seem be sparring ferociously (see the excellent Circle the Fringes), but Saturnalia is one of those records. It's not Black Love or Dust, but it finds Dulli and Lanegan right where they feel comfortable. In the shadows.
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VINE VOICEon 4 May 2008
As always with these two masters of American Gothic, the sacred and the secular entwine like two sides of the same coin. Lanegan can sound like the very devil, his gravelled growl rising from the depths to add weight to Dulli's lapsed choirboy croon. Their writing styles are also complementary: Dulli's deft way with a rock song produces some of the album's smoother moments, like the swooping Radiohead-meets-Alice-in-Chains "God's Children" - while Lanegan gives us tracks like the lycanthropic "Bete Noire".

When they write together, they produce everything from rip-roaring single "Idle Hands" to the album's centrepiece - the swirling, ritualistic "Circle The Fringes". Probably the album's only weak point is the rather dated "Each To Each", over-decorated with mellotron and synths. Emotionally, though, it feels like a redemptive closing track, the light at the end of the long dark tunnel.

Then, abruptly, we come out into the light and birdsong and acoustic guitars welcome us back...into hell. Closer "Front Street" is perhaps the darkest song on this penumbral work; seductive, weary, yet glinting with malevolent glamour. When Lanegan snarls "we're gonna have us some fun", you know he isn't talking about a trip to the seaside.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 March 2008
I believe I possess everything that Mark Lanegan has recorded. Not bragging, just stating a fact to support my absolute admiration for what he has done, and my belief that he has one of the great voices in rock. The only album that I didn't really like was his Ballads of the Broken Seas with Isobel Campbell - which won awards for goodness sake, but just didn't cut it for me. Otherwise his solo work is of singularly excellent quality, he has the standout tracks on any Queens of the Stone Age album and as for the Screaming trees, easily the best and most innovative of the "grunge" bands.

Greg Dulli? Don't know so much about him but enjoyed a couple of Afghan Whigs albums, especially 1965.

So put them together and what do you get? An exuberant slice of psychedelic, rocky americana. On this album you will hear rocking beats, mental metal guitar, slower acoustic folky numbers, excellent vocal harmonies and truly superb, proper songs. Just look at the instruments that are played on this album. Guitars - electric and acoustic of course, drums, bass and keyboards, so far so ho hum. But there are violins and cellos on some tracks which add a warmth to the affair, the harmonium is hauled out to lend an ethereal rasp to "God's children". "Each to each" features sequenced beats merged with mandolin, and the closer "Front Street" is a slow burning, more traditional epic, kind of creepy, poem set to music.

Maybe I'm being over zealous in my support for this album but anything released this year that overtakes this as my album of the year (or indeed the last few years) will have to be special indeed. This album is that good! In the past couple of weeks we have had an excellent album by Gary Louris which knocked my socks off and now this one. Maybe 2008 will be the year of "New Americana". You heard it here first!!
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on 13 August 2014
I brought this as Gentlemen by The Afghan Whigs is one of my favourite albums and I have also been enjoying Mark Lanegan's solo output lately. When I first received the album the first track was the standout for me but the rest of the album I wasn't too sure about. I put it to one side and came back to it a few weeks later. It's definitely a grower and is one of my go to albums at the moment if I'm not sure what to put on. I think if you enjoyed the grunge era, soulful indie or any of Lanegan's solo work then it's worth taking a punt on.
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VINE VOICEon 31 March 2008
If you're reading this, then the chances are you're already au fait with either, if not both, of the individuals that make up the Gutter Twins, and to a certain extent will know what to expect here (clue: QUALITY). Of course, there will be newcomers; curious and hopeful listeners, drawn in by the reputations and the rave reviews, and it's at those folk that this review is primarily aimed.

Saturnalia - the first complete album of collaborations between Greg Dulli (ex-Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers) and Mark Lanegan (ex-Screaming Trees/Queens of the Stone Age) - is a dark and moody affair; blues of the blackest kind from two of music's great survivors. While it's difficult to decipher the exact details of the experiences that inform this set of songs, it's pretty safe to say that these guys have "seen some stuff" in their time, and so if you're of the introspective, heart-broken, love-lorn, or occasionally cynical ilk, you're likely to dig this. It's serious stuff, for sure, best listened to late at night, with a glass (or bottle...) of whiskey at hand, or during a long drive in the dark. Just check out the ominous opener 'The Stations' for proof, or the dirty rock-out of 'Idle Hands' (built around a hulking riff that simply could not have been written for anyone other than Lanegan) or even the Dulli-led, shamelessly covetous closer, 'Front Porch' ("if she's fine as your missus, then she's fine enough for me").

It's weighty stuff throughout, but Saturnalia stops well short of being depressing, thanks to the simplicity of the compositions, the lushness of their arrangements and the conviction of their delivery. There is also a surprising lightness of touch - most notably on the Lanegan-sung 'Who Will Lead Us?' - that you just don't get with the majority of today's bands, which elevates this album further into the realms of genius. These two guys - regardless of what you know of them or their previous incarnations - are once again proving to be masters of their craft and the whole of this album reeks of quality and class.

Matt Pucci
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2008
Where "Saturnalia" succeeds most is in fusing the styles and sounds of the two artists. Like all of Lanegan's solo albums, there is an overwhelming sense of maturity and wisdom in his delivery. His voice is as gravely and whiskey-drenched as it has ever been. The two voices are constantly shifted to great effect; the best examples of this would be "Circle The Fringes" in which Lanegan rips through Dulli's melodic lines with a rumbling quake, instantly blackening the song's atmosphere. If not within the same song, the two deliveries are often placed side by side, such as with Lanegan's Tom Waits styled romp "All Misery" and Dulli's beautiful ballad "The Body".

"Saturnalia" is yet another remarkable outing from Mark Lanegan, and for me, some of Dulli's work best since the Afghan Whigs heyday. Perfect for fans of either artists, or those simply wanting some real gritty folk blues.
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I have long been a fan of the collaboration between Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, and as a result have been exploring other work by both musicians. My first port of call was this collaboration between Lanegan and Greg Dulli, and whilst it was a bit of a surprise it was a very pleasant one.

This is a dark album of heavy rock, with many layers and textures as Lanegan and Dulli tell us of the price they pay for their hedonistic lifestyles and the things that they have seen over the years of excess. Musically it is genius, one of the best heavy albums I have ever heard. Lanegan in particular is on fine vocal form, his ravaged and gravelly voice dominating the album for me. It's a masterpiece, 5 stars.
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on 6 March 2008
North America certainly has the edge at the moment for great innovative music. Apart from Nick Cave who is in a league of his own, bands like the Gutter Twins are showing the way forward. This is a blinding collection of songs that will be in any serious top ten cd's of the year for 2008. The highlights are tracks 1 to 12, such is the strength of the music and its such a relief to hear outstanding vocals that are powerfully blended instruments in their own right. "Gods Children" and "Idle Hands" are the most easily accesible but to be honest, any track here is a winner. You will find it very difficult to stop listening to Saturnalia. British bands should take note - stop rehashing old stuff and follow the innovative raw beauty of the Gutter Twins.
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on 3 March 2008
hasn't left my cd player since i got it. from the great opening stations to the epic closer Front street this really is great, dark stuff. lanegen even goes up in pitch like the old days. only track that i dont really dig is each to each. but this is still a mighty fine record. 4.5 stars.
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