You know, some biosheets on this band state they formed back in the little Swiss town of Sion in 1987... that´s like two decades back, I´d never guess this moniker was that old. Anyway, celebrating twenty years of making music together, Xy and his brother Vorph sign with Nuclear Blast and bring us their new release “Solar Soul”.
I wasn´t blown by “Reign Of Light”, but it was a catchy album with somewhat boring vocal performances. With “Solar Soul” the band has shifted into a higher gear, looking back at influences heavier and more symphonic. There´s certainly more bite to this album than any other SAMAEL release since “Passage”. The guitars are crunchy and epic, the atmospheres more haunting and driven and Vorph has gone back to his extreme vocals, which I can´t comment too much on (never heard that much of their old stuff) but they go well with the aggressive approach.
Sampling (still not sure if they´re using real drums) and different electronical gadgetry blend well into the sound, it´s hard not to think of RAMMSTEIN, but believe me when I say that the Swiss have some interesting interactions between the various instruments. The catchiness of the last album is heard in more straightforward songs like “Valkyries´ New Ride” and “Suspended Time”, the latter which features a scarce and barely audible participation of Vibeke Steene (Ex TRISTANIA).
The dramatic stomping of “Ave!” reeks of the band´s industrial and symphonic era in the mid nineties, this one would´ve easily had a home on the “Passage” album. They had the songs on “Reign Of Light” but somehow forgot to sprinkle that extra something on them, on “Solar Soul” the songwriting has been boosted and injected with spacious metallic majesty.
So yeah, I´m really impressed with the way the band has succeeded in taking the old influences and combine them with what they´ve been doing on the last two albums. A well designed, catchy Modern Epic Metal album.
(Online August 13, 2007)