Originally written by Gregory Bradley.
Samael is one of the weirdest bands I’ve ever heard of. Like a bunch of bands I now enjoy, I first heard of the band from a metal compilation I got my hands on in my infantile days of being a metalhead. I can almost guarantee there are plenty of metal fans out there that absolutely hate this band, in the same way that Rammstein or Mortiis are hated. It’s probably because Samael could be called a mixture of these bands. They combine the driving, simple, and pure riffage of Rammstein with the weird, atmospheric electronica moments of Mortiis. Sound horrible? Then don’t listen!
The album starts off in style with odd tribal drumming. The vocals are almost a dead on Till Lindemann (of Rammstein) impression. The way he sings/speaks the lyrics with the beat make the vocals almost like a percussion instrument. I dare not call it “rap” or anything like that for fear of a young impressionable reader getting turned off, but trust me it’s as cool as it is weird. Similar to Rammstein, they keep a driving beat throughout most of their songs, yet somehow it’s kept fresh by change-ups. They’ll throw in a quick break with some keyboards, then go right back into the beat. I dare you not to tap your foot or nod your head to any song on here. The most Rammstein-esque songs are “Moongate”, “On Earth”, and “As The Sun” (which has a great little breakdown moment with some bubbly-sounding synth).
The thing I enjoyed so much about the album is the unconventionality of it all. The whole album sounds like it’s straight out of an apocalyptic-space-sci-fi movie. Aside from the Rammstein sounding songs, the rest of them seems more “classic” Samael, in that they are less industrial and more metal, even if subtly so. Vorph’s vocals are simply mesmerizing. He adds so much style to what could’ve otherwise been some straightforward, monotonous vocal lines. As stated earlier, he has some Till Lindemann moments, but for the majority of the album he has more of a guttural-black-metal style. In the song “On Earth”, he simply lists off a bunch of cities around the world, but somehow it sounds strangely evil for no reason other than the fact that Vorph is so goddamn compelling! The Swiss accent is also a plus.
The only way I could foresee a listener not liking this album is if they were a true old-skool Samael fan. This album definitely continues the trend they’ve followed lately of more electronics and less pure metal. I, for one, enjoy it quite a bit, as there are a lot more black metal bands in the world than there are unique, quasi-industrial, electronica influenced metal bands such as the Samael of today. I say give it a try, and lose yourself in the hauntingly strange, futuristically atmospheric Reign of Light.