Ramon : Where Samael was once revolutionary with one of the most penetrating, on black metal based death metal records ever, and later by shifting style to symphonic industrial, the last couple of albums showed a more repetitive nature. Since the much more frantic ‘Above’ Samael has less trouble pacing things up to more extremes than before, combined with a bombast to knock you off your feet. And always with the intense vocals of Vorph to lead it, who by the way still has not improved much of his English pronunciation. None of that all matters, as with the first sounds I got to hear from Napalm Records, I initially thought it would be all too familiar, only to catch myself a minute later, completely drowning in that sound and vibe again, in that magical grandeur that is called Samael.
After having lost the record deal with Nuclear Blast last year, the Swiss supreme power Samael landed a deal with Napalm Records. By that time it was already known that they had once more crafted a cathedral of a record, but the insiders could officially not let go of any content for another year, since the official media campaign had not yet been launched. And now, six years after the band around the brothers Xy and Vorph released its predecessor ‘Lux Mundi’, this ‘Hegemony’ (with the “g”pronounced by singer Vorph as “zj”) is launched to celebrate the thirtieth birthday of Samael. To commemorate that even more, we find a song with the title ‘Samael’. A number of media reported that also the song ‘Angel Of Wrath’ refers tot he band’s name, but that is inaccurate. Samael in the bible is the male side of the devil (whereas Lillith is the female) and in the ‘The Satanic Bible’ by Anton LaVey it is described as “the venom of the gods”.
It is not all that important however. Samael comes as Samael is expected. Plus a cover from Paul McCartney. The drum computer again plays parts that are playable by an actual drummer, the guitars are low tuned and brought in with the fiercest venom, the orchestration of Xy is bigger than many a movie score in epic films and the vocals of Vorph go deeper than anyone else with a grunting or screaming voice. The band not really makes a shock with surprises anymore, but if you were a fan, at least you know you will stay a fan. However, they gave a statement in which they announced a new possible radical shift of course. If I had a saying, I would not mind them staying on this course for a couple of more albums. But the choice is theirs.