Review: Samael – Lux Mundi
At the turn of the millennium, industrial metal briefly became the hot new genre to watch. Established bands experimented with goth-tinged crust to mixed results (Kreator’s Endorama) while other bands made waves before petering out entirely (the Kovenant). For Switzerland’s Samael, however, the trend provided the final piece of their blackened puzzle. Now, over 20 years since their inception and a decade since their first electronic inclinations on Passage and Eternal, these four neo-kultists return with Lux Mundi, a polished horde of mid-paced shredders that show listeners a band happily settled in their chosen niche.
Opening track “Luxferre” sets the mood, crashing to life in a sweeping rush of thick fuzzy guitars, throbbing drums, and distorted vocals, with synth highlights during the more grandiose moments. Further tracks only see the band chugging forward with due diligence, stomping out one paean to tyranny and rebellion after another. Modern influences are easily identified throughout—on “Let My People Be!” and “The Shadow of the Sword,” the synth flourishes and primal drumming take a Middle Eastern bent a la Behemoth and Septicflesh. At times vocalist Vorph’s lyrics, when understandable, can come off as a little absurd (“This is a true story…based on reality!”), and the pace of the album can get a little repetitive and plodding, but Samael’s careful mix of tireless headbanging song structure and mechanized musical highlights keep the record interesting.
Haters will hate on Lux Mundi—grimmer-than-thou purists still holding out for another Ceremony of Opposites—but what do Samael care? While many passed over industrial metal as momentary NIN-inspired antics, this band was finding its sound. Lux Mundi may not be groundbreakingly original or shockingly extreme, but its prowess is that of a band invested in, and satisfied with, their current work. Many modern black metallers should be so lucky. CHRIS KROVATIN