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Samael - Hegemony (2017) - Review

Band: Samael
Album title: Hegemony
Release date: 13 October 2017
Label: Napalm Records

01. Hegemony
02. Samael
03. Angel Of Wrath
04. Rite Of Renewal
05. Red Planet
06. Black Supremacy
07. Murder Or Suicide
08. This World
09. Against All Enemies
10. Land Of The Living
11. Dictate Of Transparency
12. Helter Skelter (The Beatles cover)
13. Storm Of Fire [bonus]

Swiss pioneers of industrial black metal are finally back with a new album. Now it's time for Hegemony, six long years after the album Lux Mundi, which in a nice way connected all the sides and personalities of this extreme musical entity. Samael are around for over 30 years now, and after their beginnings as a typical black metal band, they already showed their uniqueness on in 1994 released symphonic black metal masterpiece Ceremony Of Opposites, which was revisited in its entirety two years ago on their extensive tour and on some of the biggest European festivals. I won't deny that I'm a huge fan of their mid era, of albums that brought more atmospheric, rich industrial elements into their sound. Seminal albums like Passage (1996), then the cosmic masterwork Eternal (1999), also when the band experimented a bit more with electronics on Reign Of Light (2004) and on driving Solar Soul (2007), they showed their true force and what they are capable to do by bringing new things and ideas into dark metal music. The only exception is in 2009 released a bit controversial and in my opinion disappointing experimental "back to the roots" album Above.

Hegemony is without any doubt showing consistency of this band, it doesn't really bring any new things into their sound, even if there's a new member in the band, their longtime friend, producer and former Sybreed member Drop behind the bass. Samael on Hegemony explores the same direction once presented on Passage plus adding certain things from Reign Of Light and here and there also from Solar Soul, kind of a similar approach like on previous output Lux Mundi, but this time everything is taken one level above. Samael on this album offer more rich, saturated, dense and direct sound than maybe ever before. It's an album that hides a lot of things and needs a lot of listens to fully discover all of its layers and hidden things. If compared to their previous album Lux Mundi, use of electronics is certainly put on a much more explicit level, but don't be afraid, it's absolutely not an electronic album, this is dark industrial black metal done in a trademark Samael way.

Tracks like is the explosive magnificient opener "Hegemony", strong "Samael", twisted darkness called "Angel Of Wrath", captivating "Black Supremacy", atmospheric "Against All Enemies" or rather catchy "Murder Or Suicide" are the tracks that could be considered as some of the best this band did in the last ten years or even more. I was also pleasantly surprised by their rendition of The Beatles cover track "Helter Skelter". Samael's sound is characterized here by Vorph's penetrating harsh electrified strong voice, stomping decadent bass lines, pounding insane drum beats that are so very violent and intense that sometimes is almost hard to follow them, absolutely gripping guitar riffs, just listen to "Land Of The Living", but what makes Samael unique are lush electronic elements used in a way that you'll have a hard time by finding out another band that can make the same thing. Hegemony is in its core very brutal album, maybe even more than many death metal albums, even though it's not even close to that style. Samael on this album in their lyrics give strong messages about their point of view on the actual things that are happening in the world, not everybody will of course agree with how they see the things, but ok, that's another thing and I could talk a lot about it.

Even if Hegemony is if looking from the compositional side the best and most matured album Samael did so far, I can't go past the thing that after several spins of it I find quite a lot of tracks following the similar structure, there's not such diversity like for example on their Reign Of Light album, and after a certain time it might become a bit boring. I also miss some of that mysticism that was present on Passage, cosmic ambiances from Eternal or that driving groove from Solar Soul for example, still those elements are somehow all here, they are implemented inside the songs, the best example is for me the best track up here, "Against All Enemies", but are not coming into the front as it should, it just makes the sound a bit more rich, intense and multi-layered. No matter what, Samael once again proved what kind of a reckoning force they are and this album is an absolute must for each and every fan of the band, but if you are discovering this band for the first time then you should better try first with their before mentioned albums that were released between 1996 and 2007 and then return for your dose of Hegemony.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10