SAMAEL - REIGN OF LIGHT - NUCLEAR BLAST
Even metal fans have inclinations towards dance music and, despite seeming like a whale of a juxtaposition, this statement is a fact (though this dirty little secret tends to be kept hushed in our fiercely exclusive community). Duran Duran? Depeche Mode? New Order? I love 'em all dearly, and I'm not the only one it seems. Rammstein, and especially groups like The Kovenant and Crematory, have long flirted with danceable electro tones and poses, while Samael has kind of made a career doing it. The problem with Samael generally - and Reign Of Light specifically - is that the group has no conception of how to play pop or even dance-rock properly. Sure, this record is probably aimed at the goth crowd; however, poorly conceived music is still total incompetence, purely and objectively speaking. Man, this shit sounds like bad Madonna or, even worse, third rate (but slightly dirtier) To/Die/For. Again, I'll say it: I'm a sucker for electro-pop, but Reign Of Light is just utterly lame, sounding like the work of basement video game geeks desperately seeking out a date. And, uhh, not finding one. - James Tape
SAMAEL - SOLAR SOUL - NUCLEAR BLAST
The problem with Samael is not that the band’s orchestral manoeuvres are sub-par, silly or spineless, but that the band and review do not belong here - or in any kind of metal forum. It is the band’s, admittedly fading, momentum that keeps this album reviewed here. Solar Soul is a comeback of sorts for the band, which having gone through contractual disputes with its former label Germany’s Century Media Records took a detour through Regain Records only to return with a recording contract from Germany’s Nuclear Blast Records, which is distributed by Century Media Records. The more things change, the more they stay the same. That is the story of Samael.
Solar Soul is another electronic new age journey marketed to the heavy metal masses. More specifically, the band’s new album is a nod, a signpost, to the band’s earlier albums like Ceremony Of Opposites (1994) and Passage (1996) complete with Vorph’s uniquely menacing snarl and a total disregard for the guitars. It is not that SSS misses guitar solos, strong riffs or a thick rhythm; the album is bereft of guitars period. They apparently do exist, the band’s line-up be believed, but apparently buried beneath the heaps of keyboards, synthesized deposits and programmed beats.
Solar Soul is still interesting, and not for the guest sitars and female opera vocals, for its unique lyrics, aforementioned intimidating vocals and general originality, but for this to be marketed as, about or for metal is ludicrous. The label likes to think that with Samael some people get it and some people don’t. Quite frankly, I get it and am still not convinced Samael is relevant to us any longer. - Ali “The Metallian”
SAMAEL - ABOVE - NUCLEAR BLAST
Above is the band’s return to its black metal roots and is promised to be metal through and through. Supposedly at first Above was meant to be a separate project but almost certainly the quartet realized they needed a 'heavy' release in the hopes of outlasting trends. Under One Flag is certainly on the heavier side and can be termed black metal but unsurprisingly doesn’t escape the clutches of the extraneous influences. Virtual War continues the rather aggressive version of Samael. Polygames though moves further into heavy black metal territory and any keyboards are rather drowned in the chaos. Earth Country features a bit more of the more famous Samael in that it has some of what the band is known for, the industrial song structure and sound but one that is incorporated into the renewed heaviness. Illumination is similar to Earth Country and the sound remains somewhat muddled. Black Hole is straightforward, thick sounding black metal with a dose of Samael. In There starts off less cluttered but is nevertheless mid-paced. Dark Side features a heavy metal riff to start with the synthesizer barely audible in the background, soon after the song picks up for a good measure of black metal. God’s Snake is again somewhat chaotic and heavy. On The Top Of It All is catchier and more melodic but for the most part sticks with the heavy theme. Above closes with a 'Verso mix' of Black Hole. - Anna Tergel