Review : Samael - Lux Mundi
SputnikmusicWhen Samael released Passage it marked a turning point for them. With the release of that album they were able to gain a significant number of new fans by introducing them to a novel (at the time) combination of industrial and rhythmic black metal. Passage succeeded by retaining the main elements that had made their first few albums such favorites among the black metal community, but by also dragging them into a whole new light with the huge percussion, classical flourishes and electronic undertones. Unfortunately, future albums weren’t able to keep the same perfect ratios as they delved headfirst into industrial metal and left the black metal behind. In hindsight, it wasn’t as though these industrial releases were bad (although Eternal had a lot of growing pains), it was just that they weren’t the Samael that people knew and loved. The growls had been replaced with a slightly processed spoken word delivery that occasionally delved into cringe worthy singing sections, and the black metal riffs had been dropped in favor of your typical looped power chords. Eventually they released their ‘back-to-roots’ album, Above, by bringing the black metal influences raging back to the forefront, but it still wasn’t classic Samael.
Classic Samael was always about Vorph’s inhuman growls and Xy’s ability to create some of the most infectious percussive grooves in black metal. It was about the cold, nihilistic riffs and desolate atmospheres – and it was definitely about the varied ways that each album brought those elements together. These were all things that Above barely even touched on, but at least it got the band in the right mindset again. Lux Mundi marks the return of the bleak riffs that made Ceremony of Opposites and Passage so great. It also throttles back the tempos found on Above in favor of the rhythmic, mid-paced approach that they have always done so well. This has allowed them to return to the pounding percussion of Passage, but with an overall vibe that is much more similar to Ceremony of Opposites’ traditional black metal approach. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the band also chose to return the classical-influenced keyboards that always contrasted so well with the industrial influences on Passage, but it may surprise some that Vorph has also returned to the unrestrained growls of old. Of course there are hints of the band’s modern sound such as the occasional spoken word section or industrialized groove, but overall Lux Mundi is simply classic Samael with just the right amount of their modern sound....full text
MetalundergroundAll throughout the ‘90s, Swiss act Samael was busy pushing the boundaries of black metal, dropping all the standard frozen aesthetics and playing with electronic sounds. While there was still plenty of occult and anti-Christian sentiment, Samael always played to the beat of a different drum. Many fans didn’t care for just how different that beat got several years later, when the band could more accurately be described as an industrial or even symphonic outfit. Long time fanatics should brace themselves as the prodigal son returns to its roots and produces a sound that reminds the world why Samael was so highly regarded in the first place.
As though trying to make up for the less aggressive albums, Samael’s last release, “Above,” was unnecessarily harsh and heavy, with a production that made all the songs bleed together into one mass of incompressible screams. It seems the band learned a valuable lesson from that release, as “Lux Mundi” has a much more organic and fluid production, and all the instruments get a chance to shine. From front man Vorph’s distinctive growl to the melodic and menacing guitar work, all the best Samael elements are put on display.
The production and song writing style clearly brings to mind Samael’s 90’s era work, with some modern sensibilities. Generally the keyboard and electronic parts play a supporting role, with shorter intro or interlude segments that have a bigger emphasis, which leads to an overall heavier experience that still has loads of atmosphere. The electronic programming is used to vary the tone of each song, giving the various tracks a distinct feel.
Not simply a return to old sounds, the album is also a rising new dawn that combines the various styles heard throughout Samael’s impressive two decade career. The songs “The Shadow of the Sword” and “The Truth is Marching On” strike the best balance between the “Reign of Light” era and the “Passage” era, with just enough electronic sounds to match the fast paced guitar work. “Mother Night” gives a heavy take on the idea of a ballad, while “Pagan Trance” gives a nod to the band’s mystical roots. “Soul Invictus” is also worth a special mention, with a thundering drum beat and swirling dual guitar rhythm that is nearly trance inducing....full text
AngrymetalguyOK, I have a secret to tell you right up front. I haven’t listened to Samael with any regularity since the late 1990s when I first started getting into black metal. I had a love affair with Ceremony of Opposites and was actually a bit disappointed when someone played me Passage. However, over the years Passage is the one that I have come back more frequently to, despite (or because of) its industrial bent. I wasn’t a huge fan of Above when it was released—though I must have just been cranky because it’s a fucking killer record—but I’ve always been waiting for the follow-up to Passage that never came. And I gather that I am not alone in feeling that way.
Hey, apparently Samael has been listening, or the guys have gone through some sort of transformation that has brought them back to point B (I guess point A would have been Ceremony of Opposites, which Above brought them back to). Because Lux Mundi is very much like Passage in its mid-paced, groovy indstroblack approach. Music like this, laden with keyboards, electronica and that sort of waltzy rhythms that break through in places (notably “Antigod”) always make me think of stylized fetish clubs and evil bordellos. This music is simultaneously sultry, evil and oh-so-very addictive. It’s like it embodies deviance....full text
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