Caring little whether or not SAMAEL have a political message, their “Hegemony” is one of “pleasure and delight, extended in souvenirs”.
It seems these French Swiss (and Spanish) charmers have arrived at one coherent blend to consolidate their sound throughout the years. The album could have well been self-titled, presenting the ultimate formula for our aesthetic satisfaction. This isn’t to undermine the artistic produce, but to emphasise it isn’t just interesting or challenging like many of the contemplative post-metal acts; that it doesn’t demand from the listener, but lavishly caters for him.
SAMAEL have a staunch yet not a huge fan base, which can be ascribed to the fact they are an exquisite pallette of rigor and splendour, which is rare in metal. The symphonic score enters into a racy relationship with the gutturally alluring vocal, both intricately nuanced and precisely accentuated. There are of course lovers of the darker, stickier SAMAEL side, as well as those enjoying their uplifting electronic rhythms; and while their previous album, Lux Mundi, was closer to the former (in The Truth Is Marching On in particular), Hegemony displays the brand of the Reign Of Light/Solar Soul era a little more obviously. Echoes can be heard from beautifully adorned songs like Heliopolis and Western Ground; and while the anthemic side (as in On Earth for example) is here, it is well counterbalanced with other elements as to not sound overly accessible. Black Supremacy is an example of older and newer era SAMAEL in one, and while Red Planet works as the compelling hymn of the album, anthemic nature is inherent in all tracks in its former half. While happy with the frenetic synth and copious melody, I begin to miss the enticing obscurity of songs like Born Under Saturn from Passage – and then we arrive at the second part of this thirteen-course plate, gradually catering for our darker, more decadent urges.
While I see SAMAEL as a lushly crafted Swiss clock counting intervals of delight, their social and philosophical appeal is never to be underestimated: conscience and autonomy of thought, in order to arrive at the appreciation that “our quest for harmony is the pinnacle of humanity”.
What makes SAMAEL a great band, in the end, is the fact their poignant offerings serve only as a reminder what awaits us live.
3.Angel of Wrath
4.Rite of Renewal
7.Murder or Suicide
9.Against All Enemies
10.Land of the Living
11.Dictate of Transparency
13.Storm of Fire (bonus track)
Diana Chavdarova (9/10)