Review Summary: The song "Antigod" kicks ass, but the rest is just filler.
Samael have definitely had a polarizing career. They began as a mid-paced black metal band that specialized in creating a rhythmic groove that the genre wasn’t really known for. They eventually found that they could enhance that groove by including industrial elements (most notably a drum machine). This actually lead to one of their most revered albums, Passage
. Instead of just sticking to their unique style, though, they pushed further into the industrial genre; alienating a large amount of their fans in the process. In 2009 Samael surprised everybody by releasing the most aggressive album of their careers – an album that mixed the speed and atmosphere of black metal with the rhythmic pulse of industrial metal. This lead to the obvious question: Was Above
a one-time deal or were Samael back in the metal genre for good? While Samael’s new EP, Antigod
, can’t really answer that question definitively, it’s at least a good tentative “yes”.
The new song, “Antigod,” sounds like it could have been lifted directly from Passage
. It is the kind of rhythmic, industrialized black metal that the band used to do so well. It features the pounding percussion, thick orchestral synths, and Vorph’s long-missed growl that made Passage
so great. That song is followed up by the band’s second re-creation of the song “Into the Pentagram.” That song was originally found on the band’s debut and subsequently re-done on their Rebellion
EP. This version of the song has been given the band’s industrial treatment – replacing the live drums of the first two versions with a drum machine and additional synths – and while it is great, it lacks the dark atmosphere of the Rebellion
version. The EP is rounded out by two live tracks, a remix, and an all-synth finale. The live tracks are both taken from the band’s industrial era, but they’re much more powerful live. The remix of “Antigod” isn’t terrible, but it’s not really great either. It lacks the power and heaviness of the original, and is actually a bit grating due to the thin drum sound and distorted vocals. The all-synth track, “Ten Thousand Years,” is completely boring and was probably better off never being placed on the album. The orchestral synths sound cheap and dated (think along the lines of Mortiis
’ earliest stuff), and the track just doesn’t seem to go anywhere.
’s title track is a great surprise since it truly does provide the back-to-roots feel that we were initially promised with Above
, but it’s not enough to make this EP necessary for the average fan. The band’s decision to re-record “Into the Pentagram” is a questionable one, despite the fact that it still turned out alright. The live tracks show that the band is still pretty kick-ass and heavy in a live situation, but the decision to end with an underwhelming synth track was probably not the greatest idea. Overall, whether you choose to listen to this EP or not, know that “Antigod” (the song) is a great return to the band’s roots and hopefully it is a sign of things to come, but the rest of the EP isn’t really worth the effort for all but the most committed of fans.