Samael – Lux Mundi (Season of Mist Records)

Thursday, 21st March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Clearly one of Switzerland’s greatest exports, Samael has always been one of those bands that has always done things their way, for better or for worse. Whether it be in the form of their particular version of black metal or electronica/industrial, Samael’s music has always been their own. The Swiss militia never pigeonholed themselves into one genre and it’s served them well.

Naturally, more traditional metalheads tend to favor their earlier works, but Samael slowly evolved into a band better suited for fans of Rammstein, The Kovenant, etc; one needs to look no further than their Reign of Light album. And when it seemed as though Samael had found a groove with a decidedly slower, more electronic take on their brand of hell-raising, they unleashed the brilliantly black Above in 2009, a celebrated return to old.

With that said, it usually comes as a bit of mystery as to exactly what one should expect with each ensuing Samael release. Will it be black metal, industrial or a mixture of both, or something else entirely are the questions one probably asks when trying to put a finger on how the new collection of songs will spring from the stereo.

Enter Lux Mundi, an album that marks the band’s tenth full length to coincide with several EPs, a few box sets and best-of collections. Each song has been soaked in the band’s trademark delivery and the production is thick and polished. Lux Mundi is equal parts of everything Samael has released in the past as well: It sports bit elements of black metal, Goth and industrial but it’s all woven together neatly; nothing is out of place and each song transitions seamlessly to the next, even if two of the passages are night and day in terms of differences.

The guitars are as clean as they are raw and the drumming is thunderous throughout the album. Lux Mundi does rely heavily on the keyboards, though, and oftentimes throughout the record that element of the sonic assault washes out the traditional instruments. At times it is a bit difficult to hear the guitars through the keyboards, which does take away from the songs at times.

In the end, Lux Mundi is a worthy release and it sounds most like Solar Soulwhen comparing the band’s entire discography. It’s not Samael’s finest hour, which is Above [what do you have against Ceremony of Opposites? – ed]. It’s going to be hard to top that opus and considering that Lux Mundi is the direct successor to Above, it might indirectly and subconsciously affect the overall score of Lux Mundi. Samael reached their zenith with Above and when listening to this newest one, it just doesn’t possess the same muscle. Though it’s a minor step backward, it is a step backward nevertheless.

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