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Samael: Solar Soul

Quick: What's the difference between this new release from Samael and Justin Timberlake's Future Sex/Love Sounds? Samael's album's a whole lot less sexy, though it features a lot of the same kinds of beats and bops heard on JT's last opus. At least that's true in this record's earliest and, perhaps, most exciting moments ("Solar Soul," "Promised Land") but by midway through the whole deal, Samael falls prey to the same ol' angry gothic metal bag that grows more tiresome than a Discovery Channel marathon of grass growing. True, "Western Ground" has some interesting moments, as does "Valkyries' New Ride" but, on the whole, Solar Soul stands as nothing special. Somebody step in and save metal, wouldja? All this subgenre stuff is getting out of hand and it won't be long before some joker decides that gothic reggae metal sounds like a good idea. Next.


Track Listing
1. Solar Soul
2. Promised Land
3. Slavocracy
4. Western Ground
5. On The Rise
6. Alliance
7. Suspended Time
8. Valkyries' New Ride
9. Ave!
10. Qusar Waves
11. Olympus

Added: December 29th 2014
Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin
Score:
Related Link: Nuclear Blast
Hits: 2210
Language: english

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Samael: Solar Soul
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-12-29 14:58:59
My Score:

Switzerland industrial metal band Samael have been around now for many years but this is another one of those bands I have heard of but have never had the opportunity to hear their music. That is until now.

Solar Soul was originally released in 2007 on the Nuclear Blast label. Metal Mind Productions has now reissued the recording as a special golden disc and is limited to two thousand copies. For those of you unfamiliar with the band the players are Xy (keyboards, drums, programming), Mas (bass) and Makro (guitar).

Black industrial metal is the order of the day here. Plenty of intense guitar riffs, electronic effects and thick synthesizer swells and gruff lead vocals. I can't say I love the vocals as the semi grunting style gets a little monotonous after a while so they are just okay for me. That said, there are plenty of melodies to be had, especially in the first few tracks. The album opening title track begins with a smattering of cymbal taps before a huge industrial beat and effects along with heavy guitar riffs enter the fray. Even in this heavy 'wall of sound' the distinctive synths and choir can easily he heard. "Promised Land" is similar in scope with some nice symphonic touches amidst the heavy black metal riffage. Even heavier still are the pummeling guitar riffs in the Eastern tinged "Slavocracy" while "Western Ground" has a slower mid tempo groove with a decided oriental/eastern feel in the synth workouts. The slower pace continues with "On The Rise" and "Alliance" but picks up again with the hard driving "Suspended Time" and the darkly woven "Valkyries' New Ride". The eastern themed "Quasar Waves" is another cool tune featuring some fine sitar from guest musician Sami Yli-Sirniö.

Besides the vocals, which have grown on me since my initial listen, another issue is the songs tend to blend into one another with not a lot of variation making it hard to pick out individual tracks. Whether this is a good or bad thing is completely a matter of taste.

The album is exceptionally well produced and comes in a beautiful trifold digipack with full lyrics and riveting artwork.

So, my first foray into the world of Samael is mostly positive and I found the music to be quite catchy warranting some repeat listens. If you are into industrial metal you are probably already familiar with this album but if you haven't heard the band and this review has you curious, Solar Soul would seem like a pretty good place to start.

Samael: Solar Soul
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-01-11 09:25:33
My Score:

Samael is nothing if not unpredictable from release to release and while their original sound and style from albums such as "Passage" have been inspirational to groups like Rammstein and Dimmu Borgir, their change to the more Darkwave meets Electronica style we found on "Reign Of Light" could clearly confuse a large portion of their demographic audience. Long considered one of the second wave bands in the Black Metal movement the changes to the Industrial and Technical side would find them a leader in the Industrial Metal genre. "Solar Soul" continues this journey into musical experimentation for the band and for the most part should appeal more to their original fan base as its much heavier that "Reign Of Light". Another thing about it is while it utilizes the electronic and industrial elements on every track there is also an inherent heaviness and a stomping groove that makes it a very interesting listen. Lead singer/guitarist Vorph seems in good form from the onset of the album as it opens with the title track and the programmed drums and keyboards serve well to set up the mood of the album. I love the chorus in it since it comes across with such majestic power and as you listen to the release on the whole it seems as though many of the songs offer a chorus of this kind. Different yet similar in the fact that they are sure to find the audience singing along with fists raised into the air defiantly. When "Promised Land" begins we see that this is more along the lines of the original Samael as it's clearly a Metal track albeit with electronically triggered drum tracks. There is more a Gothic flavor happening with the vocals on "Western Ground's" verse and there is a nice level of atmosphere happening in the background but it is not until the beginning of "On The Rise" do we see the band really pulling out all the stops for a few segments. I would have preferred that they left this as a sweeping thunderous number as opposed to slowing it down and picking up again a couple of times as this one had a lot of the elements that people enjoy in Dimmu Borgir today, and this could have caught their attention more had they left it one style and speed.

Clearly "Alliance" is one of the albums better offerings and I can envision it as a rousing closer in the concert setting based on the overall majesty that one can feel in the numbers riffs and chorus. Another standout track for me was "Valkyries New Ride". The album was produced by none other than Waldemar Scorychta who really did a good job for the band and one can expect no less from a producer who has the likes of Lacuna Coil and Tiamat under his belt of accomplishment. There are a couple of guest stars on the release such as Tristania's Vibeke Stene who sings in the background for "Suspended In Time" and I was excited about this since I am a big fan of this singer but when I listened to the track I noticed that she sang no vocal lead and instead was deep inside the chorus somewhere. Keeping a voice like Vibeke's under the darker male vocal of Vorph ruined her presence on the album for me as someone with her level of talent and what she offers a tune should not be buried under the other goings on in the song. This could have been any female soprano voice as far as I was concerned by the time I had heard it a few times. The other guest star is Kreator's Sami Yii-Sirnio who offers up some sitar for "Quasar Waves" but his contributions are the only stand out parts for this song as the risk of using Industrial elements often leaves a band sounding very similar from track to track and while this is a better effort in my opinion than their last – I still found a lot in the way of repetitive feels and groove as each song went by. Clearly the sound that Samael has strived to perfect over the last few years is something that fans will either love or hate and I think that with their choice to bring a lot of their older style back into play on "Solar Soul" we might find more in the way of the curious looking into this album. This is not a terrible album but it's not awesome either - it's just a good solid listen if you are someone who has an open mind to the vast array of genres that Metal offers up. I think this would be best in one of those pitch black dance clubs that cater to the Black and Goth Metal movement as it finally delivers them the chance to shake a little booty on behalf of the genre and lets them take a breather from being so intense all the time. Play that funky Metal Samael.



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