Samael: Above

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By Jonathan Smith

Samael’s Above is an album that comes and goes very quickly, but while it hangs around it pounds those who hear it with a relentless return to form. Said to be a “tribute” to the Swiss band’s past, this new effort leaves behind the more melodic and organized sound of their previous album, Solar Soul, in exchange for an all-out torrent of black metal/industrial metal that rarely leaves any space to catch one’s breath. Whereas Vorph’s vocal delivery was downright catchy in recent songs, this time his high-pitched shrieks and growls (even when electronically altered) can barely be heard over the raging music that makes up Above. With an opening whine that brings to mind an incoming missile, “Under One Flag” opens the album with a tone that remains largely consistent. By the time “Polygames” comes along, it’s clear that things aren’t going to calm down in the slightest. All of the tracks are accompanied by Xy’s continually hammering drum tracks that keep things moving at a very quick pace. There’s not a lot of variation here, nor particularly interesting experimentation — such things are not what Above is about. For fans of the band who have been turned off by the band’s changes to their music, Above will serve as a reminder that Samael has clearly not forgotten their roots. For relative newcomers, this album will only further reveal the stylistic range of which the band is capable.

(Nuclear Blast USA)

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Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.