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Samael: Lux mundi

05/07/11  ||  revenant

I have to admit upfront that I am only a recent discoverer and fan of the works of Samael. Go back a couple of years and I would have asked “Samael who?” Not anymore. Oh man, what I have fucken missed. Back in 1996, when they released their milestone album “Passage”, I was busy listening to groove metal, with Machine Head, Pantera and Prong being the three that I most loved. Come to think of it, maybe it was a good thing I didn’t discover them then, my music tastes probably hadn’t matured enough to appreciate the monster that was Samael anyway. But matured my music tastes have and, much like the colour of my hair, is quite different now. “Passage” is a malevolent beast, and it’s better to discover it late than never. And, with the release of “Lux Mundi”, Samael, too return to that classic dark electronic sound that I have recently gotten into.

Right now I’m going to say something I very rarely get to say in metal reviews. Ready for it? Here we go: it’s the keyboards that make this album work. Keyboards. Revenant circa 1996 would be shocked to hear that in 2011 he’d be writing music reviews and making statements like that. But it’s the brilliant keyboard work, which creates atmosphere, layers and textures to the music that makes this such a strong album. The songwriting of this aspect is superb, as the sound moves from dark aesthetic to majestically soaring before shifting back to brood in darkness, all the while accentuating the other performances. Indeed there are some jaw dropping moments of sheer brilliance when keyboards, guitars, rhythm and vocals all seem to be off doing their own thing, yet somehow all combining to create one collaborative monster.

The vocals, too, are fantastic. Fiendishly dark growls that seem to stalk the listener like a predator from the pits of hell. For some reason every time I hear Vorph’s vocals I picture in my mind they are being delivered by Pinhead from the Hellraiser series. It’s not that his delivery is like that of the character, it’s the brooding menace in his delivery that conjures this image. In “Lux Mundi” Vorph is bang on with his delivery. His performance is both dark and compelling.

Drums, guitars and bass all seem to be taking a back seat in my review so far. It’s not that they are insignificant, it’s just they are not the reason this album soars. Despite these, all elements are integral, and their support of the two “stars” (which clearly in my opinion are the keyboards and vocals) is mighty fine. They intertwine beautifully, and create one fantastic whole.

I am mightily fucking impressed with this album. All the disappointment Samael delivered with “Above” has vanished. In “Lux Mundi”, Samael have delivered a dark, atmospheric, majestic and at times cosmic album that is deeply intriguing and enjoyable. It swells and pulses, it’s catchy and yet grim. OK, it’s not all fucken roses. The album does go through a lull in the quality in the middle a bit. But the start and finish to the album are excellent. This is an impressive album overall. Not quite “Passage” level, but still damn impressive, and anyone who was a fan of their mid to late 90s work needs to get this.

8

  • Information
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Website: Samael MySpace
  • Band
  • Vorph: vocals, guitars
  • Makro: guitars
  • Mas: bass
  • Xytras: drums, keyboards
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Luxferre
  • 02. Let My People Be!
  • 03. Of War
  • 04. Antigod
  • 05. For a Thousand Years
  • 06. The Shadow of the Sword
  • 07. In the Deep
  • 08. Mother Night
  • 09. Pagan Trance
  • 10. In Gold We Trust
  • 11. Soul Invictus
  • 12. The Truth is Marching On