Reviewed: September 1999
Released: 1999, Century Media
Switzerland’s ever evolving Samael return with their fifth full length CD. The cover art is very fitting – spacey like the music contained therein.
Industrial flavored death/black metal with way too many keyboards. Quite the simplification, but that’s what I think of Samael’s “Eternal.” Fake drum sounds (the kick drum sounds more like an atomic explosion in some places) and often too loud keyboards distract from the music. The guitar rhythms are somewhat interesting with a mixture of choppy riffing a la Prong / Fear Factory and more drowned out distorted rumblings. The vocals are borderline death metal but have more melody and are not quite as ‘evil’ as your average death metal monster. Innovative? – Very! Is it Metal? – Well it is metal based but it’s a little too eclectic and electronic to be swallowed by most of us metalheads, and perhaps by fans of the early Samael material. After all, the band did begin as a straight up death/black metal band. After a few releases they began leaving behind their roots and so began the electronic experimentation. This is like some kind of satanic, atmospheric, evil rave music that has some metal leanings. Adjectives aside, I doubt this will make too many trips to my CD player as, to put it bluntly, it’s a bit too weird even for me. But hey, I’ve only heard this CD in it’s entirety a few times though, and it has grown on me since my initial impression. This is not something that you slap on and love right away, maybe if you give it a chance and more than a couple of listens you will appreciate it.
So who can you compare this to? No one! There are elements of bands like Moonspell and Fear Factory but they go beyond that with a sound that is all their own. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Sure it’s always nice to hear something on the fringe of musical experimentation that is afraid of no bounds yet still maintains an evil and ultra heavy presence without ever drifting into anything remotely commercial or pop music based. These musicians will probably never achieve mass acceptance, not in this galaxy anyway. If your tastes are for the more extreme, experimental and atmospheric then you have to have this CD in your collection.
Samael are currently touring North America with Dimmu Borgir, Monstrosity and Epoch of Unlight. The CD “Eternal” will be in stores on September the 14th. More info on the band can be obtained from www.samael.com
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