SAMAEL + HANGMAN’S CHAIR
@ The Underworld Camden, London
Tuesday 14th May 2019
Review by Dimitris Karagkounis
Photography by Sabrina Selkis
It’s Tuesday in sunny London and most people are working while some other are out in the parks enjoying the warm weather. Me, on the other hand, I’m anticipating SAMAEL’s performance at the Underworld.
Samael is one of the bands that morphed my taste in metal back in the early 90’s when I first listened to their masterpiece album Ceremony of Opposites.
In their 30-year-old career they have gone from black metal to electronic to black metal again and symphonic dark metal. They have influenced many bands back in the 90s and still create great music. So, I’m very excited to see them.
I arrive early at the venue to enjoy a drink and have a look at the merch stand as well. Samael were supported by French doom/sludge metallers Hangman’s Chair.
I knew them only by name and, even though they have released five albums, never had the chance to listen to them, so now was a perfect opportunity to do so.
I really liked what I was hearing: down-tempo, slow, heavy guitars, melodic leads, heavy concrete rhythm section.
Even though they were really different musically compared to Samael they were really enjoyable and most of all they seemed to enjoy their set as well, especially the bass player, he was really hyped and expressive. I’m definitely gonna listen to them carefully too and I would suggest for everyone who is into doom/sludge metal to do the same.
The time is nigh, it’s almost 9pm and the stage is all set for SAMAEL to storm the stage. From Passage and onwards, they stopped using drums on stage, so we have not a traditional stage set-up for a metal band, where the drum kit should be there is a synth station and a small percussion kit for Xytras.
Through the speakers, we hear Laibach’s B Mashina as an intro and it sets up the mood perfectly. Samael storm the stage with the title track from their last album Hegemony and the venue is roaring.
A big plus for them was the lighting arrangements they had, even though Underworld is a small venue, Samael’s lights gave a nice depth to the visual of the performance.
The energy they released on stage made the crowd give that energy back to the band and when something like that happens the energy flow of a gig becomes otherworldly. Vorph was spitting lyrics while playing Samael’s stomping riffs on his guitar, and in the background Xytras was headbanging while arranging and punching his synths to the rhythm.
The band was performing like a well-oiled machine and the outcome musically was perfect.
Samael’s setlist covered almost their entire career apart from Worship Him, Blood Ritual (which they played as W.A.R.) and Era One.
All the songs were performed near perfection, with great highlights Rain and, of course, Baphomet’s Throne, which probably is one of the greatest songs of 90s dark metal era. Samael managed to give us an enjoyable performance and made us all leave with a big smile on our face. Till the next time.