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Samael: Above

06/04/09  ||  Euthanatos

I think it has been well-documented that a number of bands, particularly bands that were pioneers in an extreme genre, have gone gay, radically changing their style and fanbase. Occasionally, what will also happen is that said bands will come full-circle and come right back to where they started. Bands like Moonspell and Kreator are good examples, and it seems Samael decided to embark upon that very path. “Worship him”, “Blood ritual” and “Ceremony of opposites” were all albums that pretty much set a standard in the metal world, but after “Passage” Samael became a very different, much softer and electronic band. Some liked it, some hated it, such is life.

“Above” brings the band right back to the “Ceremony of opposites” days, and that surprises me quite a lot, to be frank. While “Solar soul” wasn’t a complete gay-fest, I never really expected to hear the same punch Samael had in their older days. But does this means that this is the best album since Jesus died? No, not at all. It’s actually pretty boring.

And why would that be? I have no idea. In theory, all of the old elements are here; the cutting guitar riffs, the melodic flair, the extreme vocals, the epic keyboards. But I keep listening to this album, and no track seems to appeal to me. It doesn’t sound like Samael, it instead sounds like a thousand bands that are out there right now. Having a shitty production doesn’t help at all, by the way.

But “Above” isn’t a complete failure, far from it. Since Samael has gone back to their original style, there are quite a few interesting moments, like in the opener “Under one flag” and the epic “Black hole”. On the whole, though, it all seems pretty repetitive and lacking a good pair of balls.

It’s a shame, really, because Samael really was a one-of-a-kind band, and it disappoints me to see them become so irrelevant. Maybe others will find this more appealing, but to me, it’s just a bitter reminder that some things do change. For the worse.

The cover: It’s a pretty neat, uh, being with a cool mask on. I like the color white on album covers too, by the way.

5 angels of death out of 10.

  • Information
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Website: www.samael.info
  • Band
  • Vorph: vocals, guitars
  • Makro: guitars
  • Mas: bass
  • Xy: drums, keyboards, samplers
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Under one flag
  • 02. Virtual war
  • 03. Polygames
  • 04. Earth country
  • 05. Illumination
  • 06. Black hole
  • 07. In there
  • 08. Dark side
  • 09. God’s snake
  • 10. On the top of it all