without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
This is magnificent. That is the first thing that popped into my head after playing it for the first time, and then the countless times afterwards, delaying my schoolwork. "Screw school, listen to metal!" right kids? No, I'm wrong. Go to school. Anyway, "Passage" is an almost perfect amalgamation of symphonic black metal and industrial metal. May be the best I've heard in a while, if not my entire career as a metal enthusiast. The album starts off with an amazing riff that made me smile the second I heard it, "Rain", my, what an opener.
The album continues down the same awesome path of industrial passages that make you want to dance (hence my title) and riffs that make you headbang 'til your head is sore. Needless to say, my teachers are worried as to why I like to nod to everything. Amazing to say it never gets boring, the riffs are all amazing, really heavy, really aplenty. None recycled. The guitars just might be my favorite aspect of the entire album.
The reason I withdrew from given the album a perfect 100%, is for the fact of the drum machine, the drums feel as if they have no soul. The drums are almost just there to keep a beat, but my what a beat. Now, if Samael incorporated a real drummer (in 1996, not that I'm asking for a remake because that always goes according to plan) this album would have easily scored higher than 100%, but alas, the drummer is a machine.
Highlights: "Rain", "Angel's Decay", "Jupiterian Vibe", "Moonskin", "Born Under Saturn", in no particular order.
An awesome album from start to finish, excluding the drum machine (I guess it might be suitable now that I consider, it is an industrial metal album after all), a great addition to any metalhead's collection, even if you're not into industrial, you might be after this. GET THIS NOW.
The mid-nineties marked many shifts in the metal world with new genres emerging and setting the pace as to what songwriting should be at the moment. Many bands were enveloped by these new flowing streams of creativity and as such accompanied the times and embraced the natural evolution of the species. Some however made evolution a matter of their own and set on a very unique path, some to obscurity and some to greatness. A good example of the later would be Samael, which from early on opted to embrace their own path to glory and marked themselves as a band different from the flock of imitators. The experimental path they opted for would endure from the mid to late nineties, more specifically from 1994 to 1999, with these years encompassing three very unique albums.
After the magnificent Ceremony Of Opposites much uncertainty reigned among the fans of the band as that album showed a great deal of experimentation, and next year’s EP was already showing further signs of change, but my guess is that nothing could have prepared them for the work of behemoth proportions that Passage turned out to be. This was the first Samael album I’ve heard, after knowing about the band for a long time but never having listened to them, and it’s the type of listening experience that touches you in such a way that makes you feel like you’ve waited your whole life for it.
I was hooked for life from the moment I first hit play and let the sound of Xy’s programmed drumming enter my hearing canals, brought forward with his sibling’s heavy guitar riffs and modulated vocals. From the moment “Rain” started with all its precious guitar melodies and harsh industrial riffing accompanied by the electronic drumming and atmospheric keys on top of that low and harsh voice, yet soothing and almost romantic in some ways, I couldn’t stop listening and listening until the final moment and the last chorus of “A Man In Your Head”. The description of “flowing entity” I gave to Ceremony Of Opposites is perfectly suiting for Passage as well, yet they’ve managed to refine that approach with a new and fresh sound by combining all this electronic paraphernalia. The band achieved in making Passage a very different album but one that as its predecessor has a great sense of flow on its songs.
This is the first album by the band to feature full programmed drums, but don’t let this be a reason to shun you off of it because Xy demonstrates here that more than being an excellent drummer he’s also a fantastic programmer and excellent keyboardist. He brings the responsibility of all the electronics to him and blooms out of his cocoon as a full-fledged master in the art of sampling beats and building atmosphere and momentum with his keys. This is the place where he finally finds himself comfortable and as such he would never relinquish that position ever again. The addition of a second guitar to the band has proved to be a good choice and they’ve maintained themselves as a quartet until today.
Given the flow of the album and the quality of its delivery, it’s hard to find lacking moments, and you’ll never find yourself wanting to skip any tracks as most have noteworthy moments. From the fantastic opener “Rain” and its infectious groove to songs like “Shinning Kingdom” that has a great main riff and makes you bang you head like a maniac with its great use of breakdowns, passing from the fantastic keyboard-driven mid-tempo beauty that is “Angel’s Decay” into the bombastic “My Saviour” with its thundering drums and vicious chorus or even the tribal intro of “Jupiterian Vibe”, there’s plenty to enjoy here. These are all moments that demand a lot of movement in your neck area and leave little time for you to breathe as the album carries forth in its destructive path. There’s no respite for the duration of this album as it never lets go and never relinquishes the intensity of its delivery. The ballad “Moonskin” with its gentle and smooth chorus and great use of keyboards is one of the few moments where you actually have a chance to sit back and enjoy the beauty that you’re beholding.
I could just as well point out great moments in each and every song in this album but the description I gave is probably enough to make you interested, and shrouded enough as to not spoil the actual surprise and energizing feeling that is to listen to this album for the first time.
There’s no longer a question if Samael are toying with the black metal formula or not because they’ve clearly abandoned it in favour of a totally different and unique approach. By mixing their earlier type of mid-tempo riffing with industrial overtones and flirting with electronics, they’ve turned this album into another defining moment in their career. No longer can they be accused of defiling black metal because they’ve opted for their own path and their own formula instead of trying to fit in the second wave. In fact with this album Samael dismissed it entirely! And while that creative boom was a moment in time that produced many gems, this was one that was meant to shine on its own merit and definitely marked itself apart from the Norwegian horde.
There are many bands that achieve perfect albums throughout their careers, but what’s actually rare are bands that manage to pick their own formula for perfection and reassemble it in a new and unseen way while stepping even further. It’s very rare when a band can accomplish two perfect albums in a row but Samael has managed to do so and carve a niche in history and in my mind that will live forever. Passage is a brilliantly conceived and executed album and shows that a band on the apex of its evolution can still reinvent itself and conquer the world in an equally brilliant fashion.
Somewhere between Samael's crunchy post-black metal sound (Ceremony of Opposites) and their predilection for industrial-esque/darkwave music in the future, is their swansong of an album 'Passage'; not just a ceremony of opposites, but full-fledged marriage of the two. While it's easy to see why fans of Ceremony of Opposites might not take entirely too kindly to this, as it's a much less gloomier or "purely metal" approach to that bombastic sound realized on CoO, it's a total departure from things like Blood Ritual (which as of this day (2/23/08), are a welcomed thing considering how dated Blood Ritual sounds).
Truth be told, when I picked up 'Passage' in 1997 or so, I wasn't even aware that a band called Samael existed. I was drawn to Passage simply for two reasons: 1. the fact that it was a Century Media release and 2. the kick ass astrological album art-work (which meant a band that probably shared similar concepts that I did about life on earth, spirituality, and the great beyond... which I know now, is quite an understatement). Surprisingly, what I heard from the disc was an amazing marriage of two different music styles I've always been into... darkwave/industrial and black metal. The strange thing was, never before I had it heard it (or figured it could work), but Passage made complete sense to me. Suffice it to say I was blown away by the sound on this disc and still am to this day. I mean, I can listen to it and it still sounds as fresh as it did in 1997... still cutting edge, still RELEVANT. Now that's a true testament to the quality of the music found within Passage.
Understanding that, it's no surprise this album is only for a select few people who "get" and appreciate this sort of thing. In fact, I can definitely say most metal fans won't get this as much as I would say most darkwave/industrial fans wouldn't. The reality is even people who are fans of both genres, like me, wouldn't get Passage either, but that's ok. This is an album that doesn't need validation from the masses. Anyway, it surprisingly lives up to it's namesake in the context of Samael's discography, as a 'passage' through one sound form to another (black metal to full-fledged darkwave metal). Which is exactly why one should be able to go a step backward with Ceremony of Opposites and still get into it as a rawer, more primal form of Passage and at the same time move forward with the Exodus (ep) as a continuation, or move ahead even further into a fully realized form of darkwave metal (hardly any underlying black metal tone, if any at all).
But you see, despite all this classification of albums, and getting caught up in the different eras of Samael's progressive career is something MUCH MORE than just a stepping stone from one musical plateau to another. If one really enjoys the music and the artwork, the next logical step is beginning to understand what the album is all about. And that's where the real glory of this album presents itself. Normally, one appreciates a black metal album as some arbitrary sound of raw, primal energy without much focus on the lyrics or concept (usually they're quite silly, so it becomes more about the feeling and the music, and less about identity, image or lyrics). Not so with Passage, however... and that is where it truly shines! When one delves into the lyrical content, thankfully provided by Vorph, you begin to understand the complexity of the sound, and the concept really begins to pull together. It's a spiritual journey into the unknown possible origins and evolution of mankind, in reality. Perhaps metaphorical or truly inspired by esoteric archives, the lyrics are paradoxically dark yet illuminating; certainly intriguing to say the least.
I can't begin to try and explain it for you... it has to experienced with a great set of headphones or stereo system with undivided attention given. It's something that made quite an impression on me as a young 17 year old kid; never having been exposed to such concepts or beauty made it all the more riveting. And to me, it still stands the test of time as a canonical piece of dark metal spirituality... a true behemoth of an album among a sea of uninspired, dull exposes of animated egocentric posturing, you know, caricatures of chest-thumping bravado (Passage actually succeeds in inspiring self-actualization where most of these miserable, self-loathing, xenophobic meat-heads do not). In reality, this is an album of pure essence over excessive materialism so to speak, and the enormity of it's grandeur can only be truly assessed when one pays close attention to the vocal stylings while comprehending their lyrical meaning in the context of the musical passages. Then, and only then, can one realize the full impact of this album in all it's splendid glory.
To know 'Passage' is to know Samael's most enthralling musical and lyrical work to date... to pick this up all cost, would be perfunctory advice at best. On the other hand, perhaps this just made a monumental impact on me at a tender, impressionable age, rendering my observations on it biased to say the least. Or, perhaps, it is just that good. At any rate, no one album can ever achieve a perfect score, but rest assured this was one that's like 99.75%, which is awfully close.
And here we have...a black/industrial release? In fact...it's more like an industrial release with a few influences from black metal.
This description alone would not be enough to grab my attention. I'm a fan of other genres of metal, but industrial metal really isn't one of them. I don't have anything against it, but industrial metal is just not my thing.
Yet for some reason, this album is one of my favorite of all time. It is powerful, it is beautiful, and it is unique. Let me explain why.
Samael started their career as one of the first 2nd wave black metal bands. They were a very good one at that too, using some hints of electronica and keyboards over a powerful and hard-hitting black metal sound. With Passage, they lost much of that.
The music on here is heavily rhythmic, with some excellent electric drums to drive the beats. Perhaps the best part of the whole album is the sound of the electronic snare drum. It is so clear, so potent, and such a central part of the album that it is hard to miss. Just listen to the beginning of "Shining Kingdom" and see how it continues to drive the entire song. The keyboards employed aren't heavily abused; they provide some beautiful melodic passages to really set Samael apart from other industrial metal bands. In fact it may be the melodic passages of the keyboards that make the release so fantastic. Check out the haunting introduction to "Angel's Decay" and the soothing melody in "Moonskin".
Vocals are very deep and somewhat rough, though entirely intelligible. They're a little lighter than earlier Samael releases, but great nonetheless. The guitars provide plenty of heavy parts, as in the simple intro riff to Chosen Race and Liquid Soul Dimension. The guitars and bass don't play a big role in this album, but they are present and they help create a solid sound.
Best songs: Angel's Decay, Moonskin, Shining Kingdom, A Man in Your Head
Overall I'd recommend this to any industrial metal fan. Also, if you're a black metal fan who is open to black metal fusion artists (like Limbonic Art), you may like this album too. This is one of my favorite metal releases of all time.
Being release around two years after Samael’s best release “Ceremony of opposites,” this release, “Passage,” is easily their second best work too date. The style has changed quite a bit since CoO; it sound not as dark and grindier as previous releases. This is where Samael add in a little of their industrial genre. There are many changes in the style of music; I think that a few of the songs are less intense and more laid back then usual samael. Tracks like “MoonSkin,” are slower and not too intense, I would almost say that the song is kind of epic like something “Amon Amarth” would do. The atmosphere is more peaceful and happy…that is not saying its happy music it is just easier to listen to. Whereas other tracks like, “Born under Saturn,” are more powerful and demanding songs; so this album varies lots in its different tracks which makes it a brilliant release.
Several new aspects and styles are added into this album. Keyboard work is brilliant and is especially noticeable in songs like, “MoonSkin.” Vocals are about the same as other releases, maybe not quite as harsh. Lyrically “Passage,” does not have death or black metal lyrics as they used to be. The lyrics tend to be more about myth and odd twisted stories about gods and such. Some of the lyrics are rather disturbing. Drumming is exceptional in all of the songs keeping good time and such.
-Born Under Saturn
-The ones who came before
Quite a few of the tracks are a little better then so-so, there are really only two exceptional songs on the album…that would be Moonskin, and Born Under Saturn. This is a worth while release by Samael however Ceremony of Opposites is by far their best release to date.
Though an evolution from Samael's pioneering black metal sound, I really do enjoy Passage.
Sometimes this disc is hard to listen to, but every once in awhile I find "Rain", "Born Under Saturn", and "Jupiterian Vibe" bashing my face in.
This CD has a lot of synth and more "advanced" sounding material in it compared to earlier releases but much in the sense of transition albums like Amok and Chaos A.D., retains enough of the feel of earlier material to thouroughly brutalize.
Vorph's vocals are pretty decent here. I've always though him to be a different and entertaining vocalist.
Some slower parts of the CD are quite beautiful. The intro to Angel's Decay is a keyboard/drum/synth epic that leads into some slow crushing metal ala Sign of Fear and Skullkrusher. Moonskin, from beginning to end, is a stunningly enchanting song. The keyboards in the background almost mirror the lyrics in their hauntingness of the song. You feel the futuristic sound of desolation and despair throughout.
At 2:48, Born Under Saturn provides what I at once thought was the most headbangingly crushing riff I've ever heard. That was before I heard Beneath the Remains, but Born Under Saturn remains up top.
This is a very solid Samael album that should appeal to fans of the older and newer stuff alike.