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Samael - "Lux Mundi" (CD)

Samael - "Lux Mundi" CD cover image

"Lux Mundi" track listing:

1. Luxferre
2. Let My People Be!
3. Of War
4. Antigod
5. For a Thousand Years
6. The Shadow of the Sword
7. In the Deep
8. Mother Night
9. Pagan Trance
10. In Gold We Trust
11. Soul Invictus
12. The Truth is Marching On

Reviewed by on March 26, 2011

"Long time fanatics should brace themselves as the prodigal son returns to its roots and produces a sound that reminds the world why Samael was so highly regarded in the first place."

All throughout the ‘90s, Swiss act Samael was busy pushing the boundaries of black metal, dropping all the standard frozen aesthetics and playing with electronic sounds. While there was still plenty of occult and anti-Christian sentiment, Samael always played to the beat of a different drum. Many fans didn’t care for just how different that beat got several years later, when the band could more accurately be described as an industrial or even symphonic outfit. Long time fanatics should brace themselves as the prodigal son returns to its roots and produces a sound that reminds the world why Samael was so highly regarded in the first place.

As though trying to make up for the less aggressive albums, Samael’s last release, “Above,” was unnecessarily harsh and heavy, with a production that made all the songs bleed together into one mass of incompressible screams. It seems the band learned a valuable lesson from that release, as “Lux Mundi” has a much more organic and fluid production, and all the instruments get a chance to shine. From front man Vorph’s distinctive growl to the melodic and menacing guitar work, all the best Samael elements are put on display.

The production and song writing style clearly brings to mind Samael’s 90’s era work, with some modern sensibilities. Generally the keyboard and electronic parts play a supporting role, with shorter intro or interlude segments that have a bigger emphasis, which leads to an overall heavier experience that still has loads of atmosphere. The electronic programming is used to vary the tone of each song, giving the various tracks a distinct feel.

Not simply a return to old sounds, the album is also a rising new dawn that combines the various styles heard throughout Samael’s impressive two decade career. The songs “The Shadow of the Sword” and “The Truth is Marching On” strike the best balance between the “Reign of Light” era and the “Passage” era, with just enough electronic sounds to match the fast paced guitar work. “Mother Night” gives a heavy take on the idea of a ballad, while “Pagan Trance” gives a nod to the band’s mystical roots. “Soul Invictus” is also worth a special mention, with a thundering drum beat and swirling dual guitar rhythm that is nearly trance inducing.

The album is clearly trying, and mostly succeeds, to be a successor to the “Passage” album, with only minor speed bumps. “Lux Mundi” is undoubtedly among the best of the band’s offerings and an album that will bring Samael defectors back to the fold.

Highs: Combines the heaviness and atmosphere of the '90s era albums with just the right amount of electronic programming.

Lows: Although much better than on the last album, in some cases the production could be more clear and crisp.

Bottom line: Samael returns to form and strikes the right balance between furious black metal, melody, and electronic sounds.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)