Samael – “Hegemony” (Napalm Records)
Oh, those amazing Swiss people, inventors and originators of many different offerings! Pioneered by dark metal masters Celtic Frost, the Swiss metal scene was soon followed by the mighty Samael, initially a black metal band but soon adding their own masterful touch to the avant garde label fast being associated with that little alpine country. Having seen them at many festivals throughout the late-ish 90s, Samael continued to evolve over the years to incorporate industrial and even symphonic elements to their still dark core. Some 3 decades on and they return with their 11th offering that masterfully brings all these aforementioned styles together into one suave well oiled machine! Rather than falling into a cacophonous pitfall, Xy’s keyboards and programming are wonderfully dexterous, injecting cold, man machine beats on the one hand while sowing flowing, symphonic bliss to energize the 12 songs while simultaneously enshrouding them all in a dark atmosphere. Adding to this are the twin guitars of Makro and Vorph, providing the already steroided songs with even more muscle through harsh black aggression, industrial chopping riffs and dark, brooding melodies – not to mention that massive, pumping bass from Drop!! What it all adds up to is some incredibly catchy and captivating material, from the dance blast beating of ‘Black Supremacy’ to the slower symphonic darkness of ‘Red Planet’ and the futuristic machine soundscape of ‘Against All Enemies‘, while ‘Dictate of Transparency‘ amalgamates everything brilliantly. The variation may be wide, but the passion and catchiness are unrelenting throughout – as are Vorph’s still harsh vocals – with all the instruments building to intense levels allowing the majesty of Samael to be appreciated from some swanky neo goth club to yes, even a muddy festival!