Review Summary: Samael return to the sound that made them great.
When Samael released Passage
it marked a turning point for them. With the release of that album they were able to gain a significant number of new fans by introducing them to a novel (at the time) combination of industrial and rhythmic black metal. Passage
succeeded by retaining the main elements that had made their first few albums such favorites among the black metal community, but by also dragging them into a whole new light with the huge percussion, classical flourishes and electronic undertones. Unfortunately, future albums weren’t able to keep the same perfect ratios as they delved headfirst into industrial metal and left the black metal behind. In hindsight, it wasn’t as though these industrial releases were bad (although Eternal
had a lot of growing pains), it was just that they weren’t the Samael that people knew and loved. The growls had been replaced with a slightly processed spoken word delivery that occasionally delved into cringe worthy singing sections, and the black metal riffs had been dropped in favor of your typical looped power chords. Eventually they released their ‘back-to-roots’ album, Above
, by bringing the black metal influences raging back to the forefront, but it still wasn’t classic Samael.
Classic Samael was always about Vorph’s inhuman growls and Xy’s ability to create some of the most infectious percussive grooves in black metal. It was about the cold, nihilistic riffs and desolate atmospheres – and it was definitely about the varied ways that each album brought those elements together. These were all things that Above
barely even touched on, but at least it got the band in the right mindset again. Lux Mundi
marks the return of the bleak riffs that made Ceremony of Opposites
so great. It also throttles back the tempos found on Above
in favor of the rhythmic, mid-paced approach that they have always done so well. This has allowed them to return to the pounding percussion of Passage
, but with an overall vibe that is much more similar to Ceremony of Opposites
’ traditional black metal approach. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the band also chose to return the classical-influenced keyboards that always contrasted so well with the industrial influences on Passage
, but it may surprise some that Vorph has also returned to the unrestrained growls of old. Of course there are hints of the band’s modern sound such as the occasional spoken word section or industrialized groove, but overall Lux Mundi
is simply classic Samael with just the right amount of their modern sound.