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Samael - Ceremony of Opposites

1994 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

Cracking things wide open with the excellent Black Trip, Samael have discovered how to successfully incorporate mood and emotion into dark, dark music. More akin to death goth than pure metal, I bet these guys never caught in white. Pacing of the album is pretty much slow to mid, an intentional mood created here for our listening enjoyment. Actually, due to the feel, this album took a few listens for me to warm to it, discovering the interwoven keyboard passages somewhere around spin 5. Being low in the mix, the symphonic quality is there, but not as prevalent as in other "black metal" works. Drumming appeared fairly normal as well, but Xy has an interesting style, somewhat bouncy. Time is kept, but weird things are done with the rhythms. Not quite as adventurous as Passage, but a nice spin on a sometimes stagnant genre, and considered a true classic to many listeners. Samael continue to push the limits given to them, and in the end, we get some pretty cool music to keep our ears busy. One of the best albums to succeed in the art of aural envelopment.

Samael - Passage

1996 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

Having not followed Samael much since their Blood Ritual album, I was incredibly suprised to find the transition that has evidently taken place within the band. Shedding most of their "evil satan" worship, Samael have realized that they are both competent musicians and briliiant songwriters, shattering the genre to create an opus of epic proportions. Change, of course, leaves much to be desired sometimes, and I can see where longtime devotees of the old school stuff would be turned off here. Gone are major components of the past sound, such as the live drums! However, as much as I can't stand synthesized/electronic percussion, it really works for me here. Maybe it's due to Xy being a kickass drummer as well as key orchestrator, but the drumming is ten times more intricate than it could have been, with pretty realistic sounds (especially since most bass drums are triggered now anyway!!). Now, this is a completely keyboard driven album, but the mix is so awesome, that the guitars just meld into the synthesized sections to create layer upon layer of patterns which swirl into a truly enveloping blanket of sound. Much more akin to industrial metal in sound, but alone in displaying true emotion through song. Vorph's voice remains muscular, but less demonic. The strength is there, but his voice accents without overpowering. Guitar lines are memorable, but it's the sum of these parts which makes this so spectacular. Highly recommended for those into the more experimental side, such as Therion or more recent Tiamat.

Samael - Exodus EP

1998 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-08

Another E.P., I'm starting to notice a trend here. I guess a positive to see here would be that these guys love the studio, and here give us a "filler" until the next long player, but at CD prices these days, it's a let down. Taking the same approach as Fear Factory (and now Vader???) by rexmixing old tracks and giving them "A funky beat I can dance to", this would serve best those who don't like metal, but did like the Passage release, as the new tracks are in the smae vein. As for me, going back and hearing the originals, I don't see an "improvement" here, so to speak, and recommend this only for the completist. Me, I'm eagarly awaiting the next progression which historically appears to follow these stop-gap E.P.s.

Samael - Eternal

1999 Century Media Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-09-04

Now I finally understand where they were going with the Exodus E.P., Eternal just being a ghost of the brilliance that existed on Passage. Similar to Rotting Christ, modern Samael holds no relation to it's previous incarnation, no being a synthy, techo band which kinda sucks. Now, I really liked Passage, and it filled a definite spot for me, but this is just lame, rehashing the same songs as that album, which makes the entire thing end up sounding fake. The "Hoo, Ha" choral lines in the first 30 seconds of the disc are an early warning that this is flying nonstop towards the land of eternal cheese. If you want to hear a near-perfect display of orchaestrated metal, get Passage, and leave this thing the hell alone. I was looking forward to this too, and my disappointment can be felt across vast galaxies, spanning multiple planes of existence, blah blah blah...