My connections with SAMAEL, Switzerland’s premier Dark Metal band (ALASTIS are not far behind though) is sketchy at best, I’ve been on the verge of liking them but there was something about their music that never made me take the last step and join their dark hordes. Having been released from a lengthy Century Media contract, the band has now signed with Sweden’s Regain Records, the first cooperation between the newly joined forces is “Reign Of Light”.
So what does this new album sound like? To the educated fan it might sound like progression or regression, Space Metal, or whatever they choose to label it, to me it sounds like SAMAEL, and that means a whole lot of electronics, keyboards, programming, simple guitars and that distinctive abrasive vocal. A small group of people are still waiting for a return to the early Black Metal stages of the band, which of course will never take place again, sorry, try again on the next album.
Most of the tracks are mid paced or slow with emphasis on, simplistic riffing, catchy choruses and spacey, oriental atmospheres, I like it, which is odd, it’s well written and performed, but what really holds back on the album’s potential are the monotonous vocals of band leader Vorph. I know that his voice suits the music but if he’d adapt to a more melodic style of singing, or just applied the smallest of variations, the results would have been better. There’s a subtle RAMMSTEIN worshipping in the way the singer approaches his arrangements that irritates just as much as the malformed narrations/spoken vocals he occasionally tries out.
“Telepath” is without doubt catchy and optimistic material (by Dark Metal standards that is) and so is “Moongate” and “On Earth”, but these tunes, like every other tune on this record, would’ve peaked with better vocals, as much as they’re one of the oldest trademarks of the band I can’t help but thinking about what could’ve been if they worked harder in that department.
Making a guest appearance on the album is Sami Yli-Sirniö (ex WALTARI, now KREATOR) playing some sitar, and Sandra Schleret thankfully adds some variation with her pleasant voice. The sound is modern and heavy, comparable to RAMMSTEIN and THE KOVENANT (around “Animatronic”), but as SAMAEL’s music tends to be more atmospheric than industrial there’s a certain warmth under the cynicism of the various modern influences used in the songs.
I reckon the album will be appreciated by people who like electronical dark music, it’s catchy but I don’t like the band’s Metal shyness which continues to grow with every release, not bad though. (Online November 26, 2004)