Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Samael - Ceremony of Opposites (1994)

By 1994, Black Metal had undergone many changes, and it had become more acceptable than ever to experiment and to mix in elements that did not necessarily belong. An increasing number of bands infused their music with synth and other undesirable characteristics. Unfortunately, the mighty Samael succumbed to this temptation as well and their third full-length album, Ceremony of Opposites, was a travesty. While it did not represent a complete departure from their previous material, it was enough to cause many to lose interest in the band's output. It was at this point that they embarked upon a path that would lead them quite far from their primitive Black Metal roots.

Their third studio effort still retains some of the elements that they were known for, yet mixed in with many alien sounds that simply did not belong. However, even if one was to eliminate the horrid samples and the overdone keyboard usage, the result would still be awful. Despite using producer Waldemar Sorychta, yet again, the sound is far too modern and clean for an underground Black Metal band. Of course, this hardly seems like Black Metal anymore, anyway, and this record certainly was not made for the underground. The music consists of a lot of catchy riffs that seem designed to appeal to a broad range of listeners, going for instant gratification rather than attempting to create any sort of atmosphere. Actually, the primary vibe given off by this album is that of some sort of haphazard goth nonsense, instead of sounding dark or evil. There are brief hints of the band that created classics such as Worship Him and Blood Ritual, but those days were long gone by this point.

As for the positive comments, there aren't many. The vocals are still excellent, though too bad that they are accompanied by such horrendous music. Occasionally, they let a decent riff slip in for a few seconds, before it is overpowered by synth or just plain disgusting songwriting. The title track may be the most enjoyable song on the whole album, just for the more doom-laden feeling that is conveyed. Being signed to a label like Century Media and having the resources that they did, one has to wonder why Samael didn't choose to make a really killer Black Metal album and try to spread truly dark music as far as possible. Instead, they took the easy road and opted to incorporate so much synth and just overall horrible songwriting in a hideous attempt to make the band more accessible.

The main reason this CD is still in my collection is for the simple fact that a close friend gave it to me as a gift and I figured to hold on to it out of some idiotic sentimental obligation. Ceremony of Opposites is a miserable album, for the fact that so much talent went to waste in the creation of this abomination. Avoid this and pretend that the band died in a car fire, after their second L.P. All of their fans would have been better off, had that been the case.