SAMAEL

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This phone interview with Vorph of the Swiss industrial extreme metal band Samael was done by Nicki Vassilev in mid September 2004.

According to ancient Jewish mythology, “Samael is the Prince of the Demons – an important figure both in Talmudic and post-Talmudic literature, where he appears as accuser, seducer and destroyer. His name is etymologized as "The Venom of God", since he is identical with the Angel of Death who slays men with a drop of poison. It is also possible that the name is derived from that of the Syrian god Shemal...”

According to modern metal mythology, Samael is a quartet formed some 17 years ago in Switzerland by two brothers – Vorph and Xy. Their full-length debut “Worship Him” (1990) became a milestone in what was destined to be praised as one of the most powerful styles during the 90’s – black metal. Then, about a decade after the beginning, Samael did an almost radical change in their genre-direction with 1996’s masterpiece “Passage”, adding tons of industrial, electronic and even symphonic elements to the extreme metal parts, and turning this way into one of the most avant-garde bands around. This quest continued with “Eternal” (1999)... and continues...

...until now. Today, with the help of long-time bass player Mas and the new addition Makro (guitar; also active with Sludge), Vorph (vocals and guitar) and Xy (dealing with the programming, keyboard and percussion duties) deliver their long awaited brand-new offering. "Reign of Light" shall come out of the dark on October 11 through Samael’s recently founded own label Galactical Recordings. The pre-listening session of this grandiose album – and I really mean grandiose! – took place on August 10, 2004 at the H.R. Giger museum in Switzerland and... Let’s better ask Vorph about the rest.

Let’s get straight to your new album. "Reign of Light" shall be released in October – some five years after the birth your previous studio work “Eternal”. How do you feel now, after the wait is finally over?
Oh, it feels really good! Besides, we didn’t spend that time doing nothing. We did an electronic project with Xy called “Era One” which wasn’t released, we toured a lot, played some festivals... You see, we’ve been quite busy, so now it feels great to have a new album coming and to go on tour again.

"Reign of Light" shall be released through your own label Galactical Recordings. Why have you decided to work on your own?
It gives us the opportunity to control everything. We’re not willing to let our things to other people anymore, and it’s really good to have control over the way our album is gonna be promoted and marketed.

Could you please say something more about your record label?
We just did it for ourselves so far, I mean we’re not thinking of signing other bands yet. We spoke about it, but it’s kind of a hard job, and I’m not sure we’ve got the energy to work with other groups and Samael at the same time, so this very moment is only for releasing our own stuff.

Another important news is your new guitar player Makro. Could you please present him in a few words?
He joined us in 2002. We already played some festivals with him and... You know, our previous guitar player Kaos left the band and we had to ask someone to take over his duties. I was sure Makro would be able to play our stuff well, but I didn’t know how things would work out on a human level. Luckily, it was a good surprise to us, because he managed to find his place within the band, which is kind of hard considering the fact that we three – Mas, Xy and I – have been together for more than ten years, we know each other pretty well, we’re very tight... Now I’m glad that Makro is already a steady part of Samael.

Let’s finally concentrate on your new album. What should be known about the recordings, I mean when and where did they take place, who helped you...
We recorded everything here in Switzerland. We worked at two different studios, as well as in our home studio, so we didn’t have any pressure about the time. We had the chance to focus on the recordings as long as we wanted.

We worked with Waldemar Sorychta (Grip Inc.) again – he produced all our albums except for the first one and “Eternal”. He came here in Switzerland and did his job for about a week, then we mixed the stuff in Sweden with Stephan Glaumann (a.o. Rammstein and Clawfinger), and... Yeah, we’re definitely glad about the final result.

By the way, what happened to "Era One" and "Lesson in Magic #1" – your last two recordings for your previous label Century Media?
Well, we delivered both projects to Century Media – “Era One” in 2002, and one year later was the other one, “Lesson in Magic #1”. I heard they might release them next year – that’s what they say to us – but I’m not sure about it... Otherwise, we wanted to try to create something as different as possible from everything we’ve done before, so that’s what these recordings are all about. They’re completely electronic, with no guitars. I tried some strange voice techniques there, but as a whole they’re very simple music-wise...

Ok, back to "Reign of Light". You did a pre-listening session of the album on August 10, 2004 at the H.R. Giger Museum in Switzerland, right? What was it like?
It was great! Besides, I’m a big fan of Giger, you know. I had the chance to meet him for the first time a couple of weeks before the listening session, and we discussed how to make it possible and... That was it, actually.

Mentioning art – what would you like to express with the artwork of “Reign of Light”?
We wanted to show the light in a very powerful way. We realized that it was kind of impossible to show it as it is, so we thought of this eclipse thing – there’s a big light behind it, but you cannot see it. That was the main idea.

What about the lyrics? Is there some sort of a red line going through the songs?
Not really. Since a couple of albums I’m not writing about definite subjects or topics. It’s just self-expression. I compile memories that I’ve gathered through the years, some experiments I’ve went through, some feelings that I’ve had, and it’s just a mix of all that... It’s like life in general, not just one thing.

As for the music, I think the new stuff is more diverse and melodic yet definitely more aggressive than “Eternal”...
Yeah, I would say so, too. I think it’s kind of a good compromise between “Eternal” and “Passage”. We tried to mix the most powerful elements of these two albums and add some new ideas in order not to repeat what we’ve done before

In this connection, how do you see the development of the metal scene in Switzerland nowadays compared to the situation in the 80’s and the 90’s?
I never really focused on the scene in a certain area. I’m more into music as a whole, so I don’t really know... Well, we used to have bands like Celtic Frost, which were really interesting at the time, but nowadays...? I don’t know. I like The Young Gods, but they’re not metal at all, as well as some other stuff like Yello, which is pretty electronic... Actually, nothing comes to my mind in the metal scene nowadays.

Too bad... And how do you see the metal scene in general developing and changing in the future?
It’s hard to say... This kind of music has been alive for a long time, it has influenced millions and millions of people, so I think it’s gonna be there for a long time ahead, too. Of course, it will probably develop as it does these days as well – there’s some old stuff which is coming back, although in a different light... Yes, it’s all about renewing things, to be honest.

What about you own future, I mean what should we expect from Samael from now on?
We’re gonna start touring when “Reign of Light” is out. Our first show will be on October 22 in Germany, and we’ll go all around Europe until December. You see, it’s planned to be a long and serious tour, so I hope to see as much fans as possible there!


Links of interest:

Samael @ Tartarean Desire
Samael
Regain Records