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Reign of Light

Samael

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Album Review

Samael's long-awaited sixth album, 2004's Reign of Light, was a significant chapter in the adventurous Swiss quartet's career in that it was less a heavy metal album infused with electronic elements (like its immediate predecessors) than a trip-hop/industrial album draped in heavy metal ingredients. As such, it was actually far more successful, on its own terms, than 1999's lackluster techno-black metal exercise Eternal, but for most long-term Samael fans who had waited half a decade for this, well, the generalized uproar was, uproarious. But then, most of these fans should have known better than to expect any sort of retreat into extreme metal purity (surprisingly, that would come later), and, as mentioned earlier, Reign of Light's greatest strength lies not in its musical direction per se, but in the consistency of its vision, sustained atmosphere, and quality songwriting. Yes, there are distinct similarities to German industrial fetishists Rammstein to be found in opener "Moongate," the female vocal-enhanced "High Above," and the hard-driving title track (among others), but this has as much to do with frontman Vorph's throat-lacerating croaks (still as inaccessible as it gets!) as the music itself. And as ensuing highlights like the Eastern melody-laced "Inch'Allah," the deep space-trekking "Heliopolis," and the digital death-waltz "On Earth" are paraded before the court, Samael's personal identity quickly and indubitably reasserts itself. Chief composer and former drummer (now all-purpose programmer) Xy never fails to push the electronic envelope with his varied arsenal of beats (taking center stage on "Telepath"), but along with his malevolent choir orchestrations, they almost always mesh seamlessly with Vorph and Makro's brutally scything guitars to generate that dark, demonic vibe that has always been one of Samael's best-loved trademarks. And, although "Oriental Dawn" and the unusually mellow "Further" tend to plod along somewhat, there are no outright blunders capable of toppling this Reign of Light — an album that reasserted Samael's songwriting credentials above and beyond their ever-questing creativity, and finally delivered a suitable, if belated, follow-up worthy of the sinister, robotically acetic sheen of their breakthrough 1996 opus, Passage. [Reign of Light comes enhanced with the promo video for "Telepath" and a bonus audio track in the form of its remix, simply entitled "Telepathic."]

Biography

Formed: 1987

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '00s

Swiss extreme metal group Samael quickly evolved from a run-of-the-mill black metal band into one of the most daring and eclectic sonic explorers of their generation; eager to tamper with their sound by introducing industrial, electronic, and gothic music elements into their formative black and death metal foundations. Formed in the late '80s by brothers Vorphalack (vocals/guitar) and Xytras (drums/programming/keyboards), along with bassist Masmiseim, Samael were initially influenced primarily by...
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Reign of Light, Samael
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