“Solar Soul” (re-issue) by Samael

Artist: Samael
Title: “Solar Soul” (reissue)
Label: Metal Mind Productions
Release Date: 12/2/2014
Genre: Black/Industrial Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

Originally released in 2007 on Nuclear Blast Records, “Solar Soul” is the seventh album by the Swiss Metal band Samael. The recording was recently re-issued by Metal Mind Productions and now comes in a Digipak holder but features no additional tracks or expanded liner notes. With that being the case my original thoughts on it remain the same and I have restated those views in the review that follows. The edition is limited to 2000 copies so diehards might want to act fast if interested in purchasing.

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.

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. Quasar Waves
11. Olympus

Official Website: www.samael.info

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