The best way to describe Above, the latest disc from Samael is Classic Black Metal. Reminiscent of the early days of metal, Above definitely is influenced by the masters and founders of the Black Metal genre, Venom. As with most Black Metal releases the songs are extremely heavy though not always played at breakneck speed, there are some slower paced tunes as well.

The overall production is crowded and at times things get very muddled up making it difficult to decipher any specific instrumentation, a good example of this is the song “Illumination”, once this song gets going it is a full on aural assault with everything melding into a wall of undecipherable distortion. The guitar playing is intense but not all that technical and each song is delivered with an uncompromising ferocity full of sinister musical gloom and doom. Wicked esophagus-tearing vocals are the mainstay throughout the whole of Above.

Most notable to me was the tune “In There”, mainly because it is a bit slower than the rest of the album and begins with an interesting riff that quickly morphs into a steady, almost hypnotic groove that sort of sucks you in. Other tunes worth mentioning are “Dark Side”, (which also begins with a pretty intense riff) and “Virtual War”, which is a bit muddy for my tastes but still manages to highlight some killer drumming and shredding guitars.

At the end of the day I am admittedly not the biggest Black Metal fan out there, but this disc is not bad, (it definitely has its moments) and listeners of this genre will want to be sure to check out both the band and their new release.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Under One Flag
02. Black Hole
03. Polygames
04. Earth Country
05. Illumination
06. Virtual War
07. In There
08. Dark Side
09. God’s Snake
10. On The Top Of It All
11. Black Hole (Verso Mix)

Run Time: 42:06
Release Date: 04.07.2009