A primary innovator of modern black metal styles Samael begin as a speed metally old style black metal band and morphed into a doomy dark metal band, then returned with more commercial black metal styles. At this point their music is a cross between Kiss, Ministry and perhaps an old rock style like Venom.
flag of Switzerland Samael - Worship Him (1991)
Samael - Blood Ritual (1992)
Samael - Ceremony of Opposites (1994)
Worship Him
Production: This has the heavy atmosphere of a garage without being muddied; preservation of guitar tone is reasonable, and vocals have enough distinction not to interrupt guitar. There is bass in this recording although no particular peaks.

Review: Direct and confrontational power-chord black metal that preserves an affinity for older metal styles in its incorporation of the new. Riffs involve the forefathers of ambient strumming in their insistent rhythm and simple indirection, but have the epic structure of a black metal band with the ability that technical speed metal bands had for constructing complex and lengthy riffs in albums that also featured very simple rifflets and bridges in addition to some massively minimized virus. Vocals are the rasping scream that black metal bands overutilize today.


1. Sleep of Death (3:44)
2. Worship Him (6:31)
3. Knowledge of the Ancient Kingdom (5:05)
4. Morbid Metal (4:56)
5. Rite of Cthulhu (2:02)
6. The Black Face (3:31)
7. Into the Pentagram (6:47)
8. Messengers of the Light (2:43)
9. Last Benediction (1:23)
10. The Dark (4:29)
Length: 41:13

samael worship him
Copyright © 1991 Osmose

Sometimes painful simplicity, however engaging, can deprive a song of merit but here the songs hold together well with their simple elements featured for their connective strengths and not for their easy forgery of a riff. Distinctive cadences break apart subphrases into downstrummed emphatic progressions of a deconstructive idea. In the strumming and falling melodies there is some of the original angst of punk rock, but in the demonstrative percussion and sleazy groove there is an ancestry of hard rock and old style heavy metal.

The evil this release conjures comes from the insistent rhythm that holds the songs together by knowing when to die and when to keep consistently, both avoiding the repetition conundrum and allowing these simple riffs to link together into a structure stronger than the parts of each song. A classic of black metal.

Blood Ritual
Century Media
Production:Flat and dry, meaning there is little living sound to the guitars but they are starched and distant behind a smoothly mixed wall of sound.

Review: The slowest of the Samael albums Blood Ritual uses repetition technique to program its listeners with simple riffs and shifting rhythms which are carefully orchestrated through strumming and guitar/drum interaction. Vocals chant in dark priestlike desperation over asymmetrical riffs derived from the greats of older black and speed metal yet simplified and broken rhythmically to allow counterpoint phrasing and emphatic harmonic reversal and inversion to put hooks into the material.


1. Epilogue (0:39)
2. Beyond the Nothingness (4:31)
3. Poison Infiltration (3:58)
4. After the Sepulture (4:35)
5. Macabre Operetta (6:41)
6. Blood Ritual (3:25)
7. Since the Creation... (0:34)
8. With the Gleam of the Torches (6:26)
9. Total Consecration (2:40)
10. Bestial Devotion (4:49)
11. ...Until the Chaos (3:26)
Length: 41:46

samael blood ritual a black metal primate from 1992
Copyright © 1992 Century Media

These doomy long-repetition-phase works do not move as decisively as the similar but more intricate material of the first album. New direction is found in doomy bass heavy resonance and the corralling passages of cavernous narrative abrasion. Its chugging progress is meant to bow the head into a nodding rhythmic harmony. Where the blackest moments of "Worship Him" rested in dark cadence, on this release the rhythms become fluid and yet hopelessly recombinant and recyclic.

As an influence inevitably countrymen Celtic Frost are called to mind, as is Cathedral for the repetitive riff stylings (although it would be tough competition to find who "invented" various rock styles of repetition) but neither distinctly or consistently enough to disturb momentum, which rises like a leaping whale and descends in slow avulsion of harmonic texture. An uncommon dark ambience which drives periodically spectacular moments into your mind alight with contrast distinguishes this band and album.

Ceremony of Opposites
Century Media
Production: Crystal clear and bangy; almost digitally hard edged.

Review: Potent European style black metal with hints of commercial rock creeping into their style make an atmospheric but rigid and defiant album which in combining those antithetical traits finds a place for its misanthropy, like the tug of a lover in the night a promise of sweetness and hints of death. This album thrives on rawness and musicality.

Samael have always put an odd musical aesthetic into the influences behind their creation, from their first "Worship Him" with its penchant for creating requiem music out of well-played, diverse, harmonic black metal with a clear European heritage, to "Blood Ritual" which slowed the music down considerably, added a new drummer, Xytras (other band members: Vorphalack wielding guitar, and Masmiseim on bass - go figure)and developed some new tonalities for black metal. Here the emphasis on rock tempo is back, and while that is similar to the first album, the refined and sparse riffing accompanied by demented ambient keyboards is a new characteristic for this band as of this work.


1. Black Trip (3:19)
2. Celebration of the Fourth (2:54)
3. Son of Earth (3:58)
4. 'Till We Meet Again (4:12)
5. Mask of the Red Death (3:04)
6. Baphomet's Throne (3:31)
7. Flagellation (3:42)
8. Crown (4:06)
9. To Our Martyrs (2:37)
10. Ceremony of Opposites (4:40)
Length: 36:05

Copyright © 1994 Century Media

"Ceremony of Opposites" goes further into a more conventional musical sound but maintains the black metal core of powerfully designed and well-rendered structure depicted through an aesthetic of obscure, shifting and dark reactivity. While instrumentation is cleanly defined and exact in its placement it is not the focus of this art, nor is wholly the aesthetic, yet seemingly these parts conspire to suggest a communication to the listener far less evident than its fragments might imply.

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