Sunday, November 2, 2008

Samael - Worship Him (1991)


Samael are from Switzerland, the same country that spawned Hellhammer. Worship Him displays the inevitable influence that this band had on Samael, as well as other early bands, such as Venom and Sodom. This obscure and occult band rose in between the first and second wave of Black Metal. This possesses a very dark atmosphere, as if in a deep dungeon illuminated by torches, preparing for black rituals.

I discovered Samael in high school, through my best friend. I recall recording this album from him and listening to it for the first time while taking a long drive, through the winter night. That memory has never faded, nor has the impression this dark album made on me that night.

After a short horror intro, the album begins with "Sleep of Death" which is one of the faster songs on here, while not being excessively fast. The bass drum work gives the impression that it's faster than it is. Despite this, the guitars maintain a dark and occult tune, inspired by Hellhammer. The vocals are similar to what Abbath would use, a couple years later, on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. The lyrics on this album keep to esoteric and occult themes. At certain times, such as on the epic masterpiece "Into the Pentagram" there is a bit of a shriek to the vocals, but nothing too extreme.

"Worship Him" alternates between, somewhat, faster parts and slow, crawls. The guitars really dominate this album and often play open chords to give more of this doomy feeling. This is pure Black Metal. While Darkthrone was still a Death Metal band, Samael had already taken the spirit of Hellhammer and carried it to its logical conclusion, as heard with "Knowledge of the Ancient Kingdom". This song bludgeons the listener with its sheer power. The assault continues with "Morbid Metal", which speeds up the attack. This song is reminiscent of "The Third of the Storms". This song crushes your body under the weight of old tombstones and then hacks off your limbs with a rusty axe. The thrash riff, near the middle, wouldn't be out of place on a Sodom or Kreator album. Immediately following this, the song begins to descend into the pits of Hell. The atmosphere changes to one of dread and demonic voices surround.

"Rite of Cthulhu" is a brief instrumental piece, featuring a doom atmosphere created with open chord notes, followed by a bit of thrash. This serves as a half-way point in the album and lulls the listener into a sense of calm before "The Black Face" is unleashed. This song begins slowly, before speeding up and assaulting the listener. The vocals here contain a sense of desperation. Following this is the highlight of the album, "Into the Pentagram". This is the epitome of darkness and evil and is the successor of "Triumph of Death". Slow, doomy and dirty, there is nothing beautiful about this song. The flames have been extinguished. There is no light here. The air is thin and it is difficult to breathe. This atmosphere is carried on into "Messenger of the Light". Still slow-paced, the desperation in the vocals has grown.

"Last Benediction" sounds like score music from a Full Moon release, such as Subspecies or The Puppet Master. It is brief yet it does well to maintain the atmosphere of darkness and horror. This leads into the final song, "The Dark". Faster than the previous song, this instrumental features many more riffs and it quite dynamic.

Worship Him possesses the true essence of Black Metal and is essential for anyone's collection. If you haven't heard this, seek it out or kill yourself.