Released: 2007, Nuclear Blast Records
Fact: I`ve been a huge fan of Samael ever since CEREMONY OF OPPOSITES` blackened fury knocked me on my ass in 1994. Unlike most, I began an even BIGGER fan when they left Earth to explore the cosmos with 1996`s PASSAGE album, beginning the process of leaving their blackened past behind. It seemed like Samael would completely move into spacey techno-metal on ETERNAL, and even more so with REIGN OF LIGHT (an unfairly maligned album, actually). The keyboards and effects were coming to the fore, and the guitars were moving further and further into the background. Still, we always had Vorph`s distinctive, menacing vocals to get us by. Needless to say – the fans were justifiably divided. However, for me it was different. I found that by REIGN OF LIGHT I was getting tired of Samael`s schtick. Maybe the long layoff between ETERNAL and that album caused them to try too hard, but found I was kinda bored by the album.
Thus, with the release of SOLAR SOUL, for the first time, I wasn`t excited about hearing a new Samael album. Now, after hearing it over and over for months now, I guess I still don`t have a handle on it. Undoubtedly, it`s the heavier than their last couple of albums, more towards the controlled vehemence of PASSAGE in places, but I`m just not fully on board. Vorph is still abusing the mic with his vocals, Xy is still washing the tracks with cosmic keyboards, and the pounding industrial vibe is as powerful as ever, but something is missing. Don`t get me wrong though: Samael is still better than most bands, even on their most average day. To wit, songs like the title track, `Promised Land` and `Suspended Time` are classic vicious Samael.
It`s obvious from the flurry of activity (yes, two albums in three years counts as that for Samael) that the band have a new lease on life, away from their Century Media woes. Hopefully SOLAR SOUL is a stepping stone to greater things – I for one will be looking forward to it.